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Bongo Sidibe (San Francisco) collaborating with African Advocacy Network (San Francisco) and fiscal sponsor Dolores Community Services

Award: $40,000 Traditional Arts Grant awarded in 2011

Presented: April 5-6, 2013 (The Madness of the Elephant) and July 2013 (African Street Festival)

Bongo Sidibe, a traditional drummer from Guinea, West Africa, and African Advocacy Network worked to bring together a diverse population of Africans living in the Bay Area through a project that culminated with a multidisciplinary performance at the San Francisco Jewish Community Center and an African Street Festival in the Mission District. The collaborators sought to foster greater unity within the African diaspora community and to raise awareness of the often overlooked African populations living in the Bay Area.

Bongo Sidibe and Duniya Dance and Drum collaborated with other Bay Area Guinean and African artists to create a full-length performance, The Madness of the Elephant in April 2013. The piece examined the history of Guinea’s first president, Sekou Toure, a complex dictator and patron of the arts. It took an intimate look into Sidibe’s nation of origin and provided insight into reasons some of African Advocacy Network’s clients have chosen to leave Africa. The first ever San Francisco African Street Festival, highlighting eight highly regarded Bay Area traditional arts companies and some 50 performers from African nations, was presented three months later.

Lead artist Bongo Sidibe studied drumming from a very young age with Mamady Keita, a world-renowned West African drummer. Until moving to the United States, Sidibe was Keita’s assistant at his school in Conakry. The African Advocacy Network provides African and Afro-Caribbean immigrants and refugees of the Bay Area with tools they need to lead independent, productive, and dignified lives. It processes legal cases ranging from naturalization and work authorization to family unification.