NAAM is Swahili for acknowledgement or yes and also means large water body in native Luo Language. The festival is an idea mooted by a group of young established creative operators based and operating around East Africa. The group enjoys a tremendous global exposure in the cultural sector and seek to establish Naam Festival for economic growth, environmental awareness, regional cohesion and cultural appreciation around one of the world’s largest lake that needs all the attention it deserves.
The festival is set up on the shores of Lake Victoria giving the audience a spectacular view of the lake. The 2013 Pilot Edition themed ‘FARMING IS COOL’ was geared at encouraging young farmers and the unemployed youth to positively exploit the environment around the lake for entrepreneurial and sustainable ventures. There is a lot of conflict around fish farming and fishing areas round Lake Victoria especially between Kenya and Uganda on the Migingo Island a rich fishing island on the border of the two countries. Hyacinth is another environmental threat that can be turned into an opportunity through craft and weaving. Going forward Justice for Lake Victoria will stand out as the festival theme and tagline.
As a buildup activity to the festival’s debut edition targeted for April 2018 over Easter holidays, a photographic exhibition titled #JusticeforLakeVictoria was designed with an array of images showing the current state of the lake and the activities around the shoreline.
The exhibition was curated in partnership with the Judiciary Training Institute through the office of Chief Guest Hon. Dr. Willy Mutunga, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Kenya and his counterparts from Tanzania’s and Uganda’s Judiciary in March 2016. The Chief Justices’ officially opened the exhibition at Kiboko Bay in Kisumu with a forum on Social & Environmental Justice during the two day event with participants from the legal sector whose work focus on environment, lake basin experts, local fishermen / fishmongers, select youth processing hyacinth into craft and other activities. Entebbe and Mwanza edition are scheduled for early August and mid November 2017 respectively. Further, a 1-2 week Music Camp with artists living in the wilderness is expected to take place early April 2018 leading to the Festival Launch. The Music Camp is expected to see the rise of a unique shoreline sound with conscious lyrics towards the realization of an East African Album in support of the Justice for Lake Victoria campaign through edutainment and social entrepreneurship.
“Today East African Artists have led the way in exploring the adequacy and propriety of our socio legal frameworks in the face of increasingly harmful impacts of fishing and other economic activities on the Lake. I applaud Naam Festival for documenting the visual aspects of a misappropriated resource, thereby giving a voice to the voiceless” Hon. Dr. Willy Mutunga, Chief Justice of Kenya at the JfLV Exhibition Opening.