Madam Kamboulé
Adéọlá Dewis

Madam Kamboulé, Still, Adéọlá Dewis 2020
Madam Kamboulé, Still, Adéọlá Dewis 2020

Madam Kamboulé plays with embodying the mas’ energy of Trinidad’s Traditional Carnival character: ‘The Midnight Robber’. Madam Kamboulé is a work in progress, paying homage to the oral historians of Carnival tradition. This work addresses residues of my own insecurity in relation to how I perform, paint and write – finding the opportunity to play with, explore and remember my voice in my writing, through spoken word and performance.

Within the Trinidad Carnival tradition, the Midnight Robber is one of several performers that utilise voice as part of their presentation. This piece is an audio-visual exploration of my Robber jumbie. I am grateful to the contributing talents of Elizabeth Catherine Chiu, who manifested my costume vision and Keith Murrell, who worked on the soundtrack. Massive thank you to Carnival Institute of Trinidad and Tobago for the archive footage and g39 for the commission.

I am an artist. I am interested in folk and indigenous cultural performances involving aspects of masking – Carnival, masquerades and rituals. My work explores our expressions of identity and belonging in the diaspora and the ways in which we perform our fragments.



Robber Talk: Madame Kamboulč
Adéọlá Dewis


Non-mwen sé Madam Kamboulé

Mama-mwen, épi Papa-mwen conceived me on ah night
when the living, the dead and the unborn dance undistinguished

It was here that my blood was mixed with the fire from di belly of di earth

That my skin mingled with the oil and mud from di masquerade

It was here that my eyes were opened to see beyond kaka-ou

Sa ki sla-mwen, sé sla-mwen

And so, on the day that I was born,
I was endowed with a mighty Crown of Honour

A crown made from the gods of Guinea
And blessed with the dreams of fami-mwen mň

Leaping from my mother’s embrace
I began a journey to discover and recover
The riches of my birth-right

I have travelled over land and seas
Vibrating with the bones of ancestral energies

I have danced with Jumbies
And made love to sun, wind and seas

Flying through the night
I hold both life and death in my hand

Ready to kawé/ karé with whoever would dare

But beware

My moves does wreak havoc
Causing Gwan moun to hold dey belly and bawl
And buildings to crumble and fall

Plenty must break, for wrong to right

And as the guts of your greedy giants
Regurgitate what was stolen
Like mapipi, I ready to fight

Any (bwa) bois-man that stand in my way
As I IRRADICATE the rot and poison
Attached to the precious legacies
That were ripped from the blood of my blood
And the kin of my skin

Non-mwen sé Madam Kamboulé

I am born to be re-born and born again

My eyes have seen battles
And plenty bloodshed

I hear whisperings of incantations

And see spells that raise di dead

To bring forth warriors, resilient and strong

Lalin say she ready,
Di planets align to ignite

Di fire from my belly
And di BLAZE in my eyesight

Who doh run, hadda stand up and fight

Let di countdown begin:
Senk, kat, twa dé, yňnn…

Is kamboulé tonight!


  • Madam Kamboulé, Still, Adéọlá Dewis 2020
  • Madam Kamboulé, Still, Adéọlá Dewis 2020
  • Madam Kamboulé, Still, Adéọlá Dewis 2020
  • Madam Kamboulé, Still, Adéọlá Dewis 2020
  • Madam Kamboulé, Still, Adéọlá Dewis 2020
  • Madam Kamboulé, Still, Adéọlá Dewis 2020
  • Madam Kamboulé, Still, Adéọlá Dewis 2020
  • Madam Kamboulé, Still, Adéọlá Dewis 2020

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