Jamaica’s Tribe Sankofa Initiates Youth Mentorship Programme – “It Takes a Tribe”

Digital faces collage

Fabian Thomas

Release Date

Wednesday, November 16, 2022


As part of their 10th anniversary commemorations, performing arts collective Tribe Sankofa has initiated a youth mentorship programme It takes a Tribe. The programme is the brainchild of Fabian M. Thomas, Founder/Artistic Director of Tribe Sankofa, who says it is a by-product of a workshop series focused on exploring gender-based violence through the performing arts. It was run as part of a research project, Representing Gender-Based Violence: Literature, Performance and Activism in the Anglophone Caribbean, funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and led by the University of Leicester (UK) in collaboration with the University of the West Indies.

In an effort to bridge the gap left by the completion of the project in the two high schools in Phase 1, the mentorship programme was launched in mid-October 2022 at Haile Selassie High School. with a session engaging the parents and guardians of students involved. The programme will begin at Green Island High School in 2023. It takes a Tribe will focus on the most pressing needs of the students and their parents/guardians and will include personal development, conflict management, academic tutoring, art therapy, creative expression and family support/interventions. The Coordinators and Lead Facilitators of the programme are Thomas and Triber Zahra Warner, who is also the collective’s Wellness Coordinator. They will be supported by other Tribers, as well as invited guests and experts. Though Thomas is currently the sole funder of the programme, he affirms that funding and support will be secured to ensure its continuation. Interested allies and supporters may contact him at tribesankofa@gmail.com.

Tribe Sankofa was founded in 2012 by its Artistic Director fabian m thomas, who describes their niche as “…. borrowed and original spoken word/poetry, soulful song-styling uniquely blended with other visual and performing arts”. The collective, since its inception, has sought to introduce a new dynamic to Jamaica’s theatre arts landscape and the world at large. They have shared their interpretations of works by critically acclaimed poets and writers such as Lorna Goodison, Derrick Walcott, Olive Senior, Mervyn Morris, Oku Onuora, Claude McKay, Toni Morrison, Sunni Patterson, Rudy Francisco and Paul Laurence Dunbar. They have also presented unflinching examinations of issues such as police killings/brutality, gender-based violence, racism, blackness and self-discovery.

 Thomas and his tribe have shared their distinctive style and repertoire in various spaces including the Lignum Vitae Awards, Gungo Walk Alternative Music and Arts Festival, Arts in the Park and the Investiture of the Poet Laureate of Jamaica. The collective proved their determination to their mission in 2017 when they performed at CARIFESTA 2017 despite having funding issues and not being part Jamaica's official contingent. Their resilience has further been proven through their quick adaptation to the changes brought by the Covid-19 pandemic. The collective overcame the obstacles posed, pivoted and presented its first virtual/online season via Zoom in August 2020.

 The year-long celebration to mark their tenth anniversary has included launch of their first chapbook of original writings, a 10th Anniversary Go Fund Me initiative, the World Premieres of a mini-documentary, the production of a full-length documentary and an assortment of performances, tributes and recollections.

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