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Working Towards a Brighter Future

Mbongi is a Congolese word which means "learning place." It refers to the circle of learning in the African village where people gather to learn how to be contributing members of the community.

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"Our Mbongi, Our Learning Place"

Titos Sompa is Founder and Artistic Director of Mbongi Dance Theater Project, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to advancing and celebrating the cultural arts of Africa, especially the music and dance of the Congo. Titos Sompa takes the audience to "mbongi," a learning place, and asks that they say, "yeah! yeah!" to Africa's contributions to the world.

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"Congo is the Heart of Africa"

Originating from the Congo (Brazzaville), Tata Titos Sompa is a charismatic and extraordinarily gifted performing artist, teacher, and healer. Since arriving in America from Paris, where he taught music and dance and toured Europe with his band, Les Echos Noir, he has inspired artists, students and audiences with his African cultural orientation that holistically integrated music, dance, singing, folklore and spirituality. Mr. Sompa was the first to introduce the earthly and fluid Congolese style of simultaneous dancing and singing to America audiences. In the early 1970's, he and lead drummer, Coster Massamba, brought Congolese culture to the New York artistic scene.

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In the African village, the problems of the community, neighbors, and families are examined and solved by the people gathering together and expressing ideas, releasing feelings, and co-creating solutions. The people do this by talking, sharing, dancing, singing, chanting, and participating in rituals to mark important transitions.

Our vision is to create "villages" within our communities, so that people can come together and celebrate their gifts, experiencing the joy of being connected to body, spirit, and each other. We accomplish this by:

  • Providing instruction in the dance, music, art and culture of peoples of Africa.

  • Educating the general public, and thereby increasing the understanding and appreciation of the dance, music, arts and cultures of the African continent.

  • Sponsoring, promoting, and producing performances, demonstrations, lectures, and media presentations which will aid in accomplishing the above stated objectives.

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Programs include school assemblies, lecture/demonstrations, festivals and camps designed to instill the values and principles of the "village life." This means that young people learn how to respect each other, their elders, their teachers, and their place in the community.  For over 15 years, Mbongi Dance Theater Project has exposed thousands of school-age youth to the songs, dances, musical instruments, customs and rituals of African cultures.

“What we play is life.”

Louis Armstrong

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