I attended the 3rd day of the Tamerri “Earth Made” Festival in Abuja at Sarius Palmetum, it was the finale. I had missed the festivities of the day, I was there for the music. The sound was excellent, just like last year, the lights were beautiful and bright, one in particular reached from the stage into the night clouds like it wanted to shed some light on the moon, or more daring still, touch God. A small bonfire spat sparks to the heavens and crackled some distance away from the village square.

Krump Studio Dancers did a flash mob performance that introduced the Festival closing event—the music concert—they slipped us a teaser of their upcoming show, Abuja: The Musical and amped up the energy in preparation of what was to come.

One music performer after, Elle Nkechi blessed us with beautiful vibrations from her vocal chords that were etched in the waves that broke out of the speakers. She did one of her songs with Isaac Isumanu of the Isomers playing the guitar.

Elle Nkechi and Isaac Isumanu performing at Tamerri, 2017

Frankie Walter brought a certain energy when he graced the stage, his was one of the best performances of the night. Africa Ukoh did poetry for a change of pace, “An ode to condoms he never used”right before Jessica Bongos sang the crowd into another world.

While other performers graced the stage, I decided to explore the festival grounds a bit, and then I noticed that the festival had been done a disservice, the crowd was far smaller than last year’s and the vendor stands around seemed empty and dry. There were too few side attractions on this evening to catch the attention of Festival-goers when they felt the energy from the music was waning, it wasn’t so last year.

The promoters and organisers had given us a grand stage, they had given us great sound, and they had given us a great line up of acts, but they had done one disservice, they had not told us about it. Advertisement for Tamerri was poor, starting barely two weeks to the date of commencement, the event lost an audience and even Festival loyalists to, perhaps, a bit of arrogance. You get the sense that the promoters assumed that Tamerri could coast on its former success – or maybe, they had just put so much effort in giving the best Tamerri had to offer and forgot to tell people to come and receive it.

Tamerri Map

There were lapses in the planning, and this coupled with the poor advertising, just played a sad tune for a Festival whose execution should have been perfected since March. You see, the sophomore edition of Tamerri was postponed to November due to the close of the Abuja Airport for renovation, so the shift in timing could also be another possible culprit.

Organising an event of even less than half the magnitude of the Tamerri Festival is no mean feat – it runs for three days and has elements of fine arts, music, poetry, film, fashion, culture, masquerade groups from all parts of the country and so much more – so despite the lineup of sponsors, the promoters must’ve still taken quite a punch to their purse, it’s sad that ticket sales might not have been able to offset it as not enough people were able to plan for or attend.

The Festival curator, Echefu Fortune, better known as Cef also graced the stage. The strain from organising such an event, as well as the flaws that plagued it, must’ve birthed demons that seemed to share the stage with Cef. His usually enthralling performance was less tangible than a ghost of what it usually is. He spent about 60% of his time on stage checking a seemingly perfect microphone, vibing solo without taking the audience along, and honestly coming off as a talented but arrogant rookie that failed to practice before coming out to play. I do hope by next year he and Tamerri have the resources they need to allow him materialise his ideas and still focus on being a great artist.

Tamerrians soaking up the energy

I drifted into my thoughts for a bit to curse the flaws that tormented the Festival, but Efe Oraka snapped me back to the stage lights, she was amazing even with a cracked voice that I heard earlier before she got on stage. I was getting ready to exit the venue, then Lady Donli was introduced to the stage, so I didn’t leave. Her voice was a stream, gentle at times, raging at other times. She had just finished singing “Mr. Creeper” when Tomi Thomas joined her for “Ice Cream”, he was moonlight, shimmering against her flow and pulling her to rage, together they were magical.

I didn’t get to see Bez or Jerimiah Gyang, it was past 11pm and they hadn’t shown up yet, so I left. But despite the flaws, Tamerri was great, and I look forward to it next year, you should too. Till then, I will savour the memories and remember that we are all Earth Made.