Skip to main content

A Tribute to Nelson Mandela on what would have been his 96th birthday

Ethnic Dance Festival

San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival 2014 Season Closing Event

A Tribute to Nelson Mandela on what would have been his 96th birthday

FREE and open to the public Friday, July 18, 12noon

Media contact: David Perry & Associates, Inc / (415) 693-0583 /

Presented in partnership with Dancers’ Group, San Francisco Grants for the Arts, and San Francisco City Hall, as part of the monthly Rotunda Dance Series 

15 July 2014 – San Francisco, CA: On Friday, July 18th the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival will officially close the 2014 Festival Season with a free public program under the grand San Francisco City Hall rotunda. The final event will honor the late South African leader Nelson Mandela with a traditional African “homegoing” ceremony on what would have been his 96th birthday.

The program will include a procession of drummers led by Festival artistic director CK Ladzekpo, with many of the same musicians who drummed so powerfully during Mandela’s appearance in 1990 at the Oakland Coliseum. Thamsanqa Hlatywayo, artistic director of Jikelele Dance Theatre, will lead the crowd in singing the South African national anthem, and Jikelele Dance Theater will perform and lead a South African Praise. There will also be a sacred offering, including a libation, and brief tributes from dignitaries, including Naomi Diouf, artistic director of Diamano Coura West African Dance Company, and the Honorable Marilyn Hall Patel, former Chief Judge of the US District Court for the Northern District of California. Finally, Diamano Coura West African Dance Company will present three African dances celebrating Mandela’s life.

The San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival celebrates and fosters appreciation for the world dance and music artists living throughout the greater Bay Area’s diverse ethnic communities. On the Festival stages, audiences have the opportunity to experience dance from over 100 distinct world cultures. The New York Times called the annual San Francisco Ethnic Dance festival “a glorious achievement…one of the finest of all American dreams: a setting where cultures can celebrate their own traditions while honoring and applauding others.”

The Rotunda Dance Series is a partnership between Dancers’ Group, World Arts West (producers of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival), San Francisco Grants for the Arts, and San Francisco City Hall. It brings many of the Bay Area’s most renowned dance companies to City Hall’s rotunda space for free noon-time performances on the first Friday of each month (with occasional calendar adjustments). Events primarily involve dance, but often also include live music, theater or other performing art disciplines. 
 About Diamano Coura West African Dance Company ( Diamano Coura West African Dance Company is a nonprofit cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, education, and appreciation of traditional West African music, dance, theater, and culture. Since its inception in 1975, Diamano Coura, under the direction of Emmy Award-winner Dr. Zak Diouf and Artistic Director Naomi Diouf, has implemented its mission through ongoing workshops, performances, youth programs, national and international touring engagements, lecture demonstrations, community outreach, and creative partnership programs with renowned artists and performing companies. Diamano Coura in the Senegalese Wolof language means “those who bring the message.”

About Thamsanqa Hlatywayo, artistic director of Jikelele Dance Theater ( Thamsanqa Hlatywayo was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he began learning traditional songs and dances of many different ethnic groups at an early age. Later, he studied with Gibson Kente, considered the father of township theater, a storytelling tradition involving music and dance. After moving to the US, Thamsanqa joined the Tony-nominated Broadway show Sarafina! He founded Jikelele Dance Theater when he was the Laney College dance department’s township theater guest artist in 2011.

About CK Ladzekpo CK Ladzekpo is the director of the African music program at the University of California, Berkeley. His is a distinguished career as a performer, choreographer, composer, teacher and published scholar in the African performing arts. He is a member of a renowned family of African musicians and dancers who traditionally serve as lead drummers and composers among the Anlo-Ewe people of southeastern Ghana in West Africa. He has been a lead drummer and instructor with the Ghana National Dance Ensemble, the University of Ghana’s Institute of African Studies and the Arts Council of Ghana. He joined the music faculty of the University of California Berkeley in 1973 and continues to be an influential catalyst of the African perspective in the performing arts.

About World Arts West ( For over three and a half decades, World Arts West has supported and presented world dance artists throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. The main presenting program of the organization is the nationally acclaimed San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, which presents over 100 distinct dance forms and thousands of local dancers who are sustaining and innovating within those forms. The organization works year round to advance cultural literacy and build bridges of cultural understanding.

About Dancers’ Group ( Dancers’ Group promotes the visibility and viability of dance. Founded in 1982, we serve San Francisco Bay Area artists, the dance community and audiences through programs and services that are as collaborative and innovative as the creative process. As the primary dance service organization for the second largest dance community in the country, Dancers’ Group’s many programs help artists produce work, build audiences, and connect with their peers and the community.

The 2014 Rotunda Dance Series will continue with the following schedule:
August 1: Dohee Lee
September 5: Garrett + Moulton Productions
October 3: Dimensions Dance Theater
November 7: Fall Festival Feature Performance with Bal Anat and Karavansaray Dance Company
December 5: Sean Dorsey Dance

Calendar Editors please note: 
Who: A Tribute to Nelson Mandela, the closing event of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival Season
What: The Rotunda Dance Series, free monthly dance performance, presented by Dancers’ Group and World Arts West, in partnership with San Francisco Grants for the Arts and San Francisco City Hall.

Cost: Free
Where: City Hall, San Francisco
When: Friday, July 18, 2014, Noon
Info: Terry Conway, (415) 474-3914,

Images available for download: CK Ladzekpo, co-Artistic Director of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, photo by RJ Muna: Download photos

Naomi Diouf, Artistic Director of Diamano Coura West African Dance Company, photo by RJ Muna: Download photos

Thamsanqa Hlatywayo, Artistic Director of Jikelele Dance Theater, photo by RJ Muna: Download photos

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.