ENIGMA: A TRIBUTE TO REI AMADOR
YVES SAMBU (1980, DR CONGO)
‘Enigma’ is Yves Sambu’s ongoing project of conceptual research and creation in various socio-historic contexts. One of his goals for the Enigma project is to meet people and communities that maintain artisanal and spiritual practices, collecting facts about their societies, quotations, fables, humour, the irony of legendary stories, the national news and even Fake news.
For Enigma in São Tomé, Sambu was inspired by Rei Amador, a national hero of São Tomé e Príncipe. As the story goes, on 9 July 1595, Amador, one of the enslaved Angolares living in the south of São Tomé island, led a famous uprising against the Portuguese which was joined by enslaved people
from other parts of São Tomé e Príncipe. After winning the battle, Amador, supported by his followers, proclaimed himself King of São Tomé e Príncipe. Rei Amador ruled the country until 4 January 1596, when he was captured, sent to prison, and executed by the Portuguese. Amador’s rebellion is
one of the rst of this importance ever undertaken in Africa against the transatlantic slave trade: an important moment in African history.
With a performance created especially for N’GOLÁ, Yves Sambu wants to pay tribute to Rei Amador and his ght against oppression, as well as to the ght against oppression in general. The scarcity of information about Amador, and the fact that he was a self-proclaimed king, stimulated Yves Sambu to initiate a ritual of royal coronation and to create for this occasion a traditional and imperial costume. This costume is made of vegetable beads, as a symbol of the folklore of Bantu people, and with small glass beads found in tribute costumes of the people of East and Southern Africa.
The royal costume forms the centrepiece of a festive parade on Friday 26 July, at sundown, accompanied by singing and dancing Sapeurs from Kinshasa who travelled to São Tomé for this occasion. The people of São Tomé are invited to join. The nal destination of this performance is the ritual of dressing the statue of Rei Amador in the town of São João de Angolares. A video of the performance is shown at the exhibition in CACAU.
Video by SALT Amsterdam (www.saltamsterdam.com)