Using the Arts to Change the World : United States (All 50 States), Germany, Australia, Malawi, Holland, Austria, Croatia, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mali, Morocco, Russia, Hungary, Spain, Bali & Brazil .... and soon India, Thailand, New Zealand ....
International Storyteller - Dancer / Drummer - Cultural Educator - Leadership Consultant - Spiritual Healer - InterPlay Leader
Mission: Using Education, Workshops, Performing Arts and Storytelling to motivate and inspire diverse people of all ages to work together to bring about Peace, Social Justice and Cultural/Spiritual Healing & Understanding.
Masankho Kamsisi Banda
Creating a worldwide legacy of peace messengers
It is most fitting to begin the story of Masankho Banda with the image of him, as a child, dancing under the moonlit sky in Malawi, Africa his country of birth. “I danced all the time,” says Masankho. “Even when I was not supposed to dance, my feet moved. When I danced, I was happy and my entire view of the world was transformed.”
Masankho learned the fine arts of storytelling and dance from his elders. In their company, he spent many long days and nights listening to stories and dancing to music that captivated his mind, nourished his soul, and strengthened his spirit. Says Masankho, “My grandmother’s words, whispered to me when I was five, continuously echo in my ears: ‘Masankho (which means to choose) your destiny is to bring peace and healing through your talents as a dancer, singer and storyteller’. Masankho’s Mother’s; a woman of great courage and wisdom continue to be great influences on his life.
Masankho’s late teen years in Malawi were extremely difficult. His father, Honorable Aleke K. Banda, was imprisoned in 1980 for his efforts to maintain democracy and economic stability in Malawi by the President who reigned over Malawi in a brutal dictatorship for thirty years. In the seventh year of his father’s twelve-year detention, twenty-five year old Masankho was forced to leave Malawi. “I was a refugee — scared, angry, and unsure of my future.”
Masankho arrived in the United States in 1987, and earned a degree in Theater and Dance Arts from the College of Wooster in Ohio. After graduating, Masankho turned down an invitation to study at the Shakespeare School of Acting in New York, opting instead to devote his life to using dance, theater, music, drumming, and storytelling to inspire people of all ages to work together to bring about peace, social justice, and cultural understanding. To further this goal and ambition Masankho got his Master of Arts in Creation Spirituality from Holy Names University in 2001.
Masankho goes to where there is pain, suffering, and sadness and brings healing, joy, and peace. He has served as facilitator and participant for many major projects and conferences, among them: the 1993 Children's Conference on Human Rights; the Corporation for National & Community Service; Youth for Environmental Sanity Retreats; and the United Religions Initiative Global Summit meetings. He was associate producer of the Children's World Peace Festival in San Francisco in 1995 and has made peace education trips to Sierra Leone, Mali, and Malawi in Africa and Children's Refugee Camps in Croatia. For ten years Masankho has given his time and talents to Bread & Roses, a nonprofit bringing inspiration to adults, youth, and children in Bay Area institutions through music, stories, and dance. In 1999 Masankho received his certificate as a Certfied InterPlay Leader and has since produced and Co Led many InterPlay Untesnsive Retreats all over the United States and around the World. Masankho continues to teach African dance classes at the Saratoga Community Center and performs with the Wing It Performance Ensemble.
Currently Masankho is on the Board of Directors of Pathways to Peace, an International Peace Building organization. In addition Masankho is also an Adjunct faculty member at the Sophia Center at Holy Names University in Oakland and Masankho is also a certified InterPlay Leader and Ambassador. In 1997, Masankho founded UCanDanc' African Healing Arts to bring his passion for dance and storytelling to communities around the world. He works tirelessly to establish a worldwide legacy of peace messengers. The young people he meets learn the power of choosing peace over conflict and are forever touched.”
Mine is a happy story adds Masankho. “My father was freed in 1992, and helped to lead Malawi to its new democracy in 1994. My grandmother is happy as I am fulfilling the vision that she had for me—to help the young and old lift their spirits, heal their bodies, enrich their souls, and work for peace.” Masankho received the Unsung Hero of Compassion Award from His Holiness the Dalai Lama in May 2001.