Socially: the program provides very entertaining and enriching alternatives to street gangs, drugs and prostitution. Read more

Economically: the program saves the city council huge amounts of money in terms of policing, drug, alcohol and other social rehabilitation programs and prison upkeep. Read more

Culturally: it enriches the city or country. Africa still remains a mystery to most people. Its culture is little known. Read more

Tourism: many cities and countries derive a huge chunk of their revenues from tourism. Read more

Health: the explosion of child obesity and other numerous health concerns tied to inactivity in North America provides a good reason for the introduction of these dances. Read more

Overview >>

This event will take place in front of a huge mural adorned with effigies of ancestors (Frederick Douglas, Booker T Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., Oscar Peterson, George Washington Carver, Toussaint L’Ouverture, Elijah Muhammad, Steve Biko, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Malcolm X, Imhotep, Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey, Ibrahima Njoya, CJ Walker… and yes, also of white folks such as John Brown, William Wilberforce, Ruth First, Abraham Lincoln, Robert Francis Kennedy and the many others who have been part of our struggles) whose positive spirit and sense of sacrifice for the common good mature initiates must formally swear to uphold and perpetuate. To those unaccustomed to African spirituality, this may seem a simple gesture.

It is, but the implication of taking an oath in front of ancestors is far more complex. Progressively, new cultural layers will be added to the framework, each of them with some specific objective to attain. One example that will be introduced is the West African “griot” culture which blends music with oral historical narration. This aspect reinforces the message of gratitude and respect the children show ancestors they seek to immortalize and emulate by retaining and regurgitating huge volumes of information about them. Pursued from a tender age, this ancient tradition exercises and prepares young minds for the eventual tedium of legal and statistical studies, journalism, medicine and other fields where memorizing comes in handy. In a similar vein, being initiated into adulthood instils in them a sense of maturity, responsibility, and leadership.

Children cannot be accused of acting irresponsibly when at no point in their lives they were formally entrusted with the mantle of adulthood. Another layer will introduce participants into creating their own dancing costumes and musical instruments. This is a way of teaching self-reliance. But most importantly, it provides them with the opportunity to exercise their own creativity as well as form the crucial link to a tradition that must be handed down. On the drums and other instruments they create for themselves, they may etch in motifs relevant to their own history and cultures (the Underground Railroad, the Maroon revolt, a black preacher, Dr Martin Luther King Jr.. the election of Barack Obama, Mandela freed from prison, Toni Morrison at her writing desk or lecturing at Princeton, Muhammad Ali in the boxing ring, Bob Marley or Jimi Hendrix strumming away at his guitar, Louis Armstrong or Hugh Masakela blowing his trumpet, a Rastaman in leonine dreadlocks drumming away a reggae tune…etc.) as they hone their artistic abilities and perfect an eye for details.

The various layers must be coated with an overall shroud comprising three key disciplines: mathematics to make them think; reading to make them understand; and finance to make them develop a nose for money. The whole idea, through such multifaceted activities, is to build a community around a culture that is relevant, resilient and serves for the next thousand years as the engine for unity, progress and self-reliance. The nascent culture should be solid enough to provide a counter current to an environment plagued with violence, drugs, gangs, prostitutes, self-hate, intellectual disdain and other negativities.

This basic outline will be extended over time to encompass special programs that include trips to Africa and other countries with a large African Diaspora population, partnering with governments to explore cultural and economic opportunities on resource-saturated Africa, the promotion of community businesses and many other endeavours.