Tango goes to Africa

$5,600 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 59 people in 61 months

You don't need to know how to dance tango to be my partner in this program to enrich young people in Nairobi, Kenya. Mungai Waweru, my Kenyan-American teaching partner, and I hope you'll help us bring tango back to Africa.

Peace ambassadors in training

Mungai and I are asking for your help to continue renting the dance floor in Nairobi and helping to transport youth to and from the place where the training intensive takes place---since March 3, 2014. Your contributions have helped us procure for the students proper soles for the dance shoes, music, and sound equipment. Mungai and I have already devoted several months of our time in Kenya to getting the dance project on its way to being self-sustaining and youth-maintained. The success exceeds our expectations!

Ready to tango

You can see the exhilaration and engagement on their faces in the short video below. There are more than 200 city slums in Nairobi where the people are crammed into five percent of total available land. With a Kenyan friend, I visited two of the city's slums, Kangemi and Kibagari. I'll spare you the description because by now, given mass communications, you know something of this abject misery that even the poorest American will never see.

Our vision has been to use dance the way sports have been used, to promote self worth and respect for others, while investing youth with earning power, social and coping skills,thus reducing social ills and mainstreaming justice, and promoting inner peace and national peace. And it seems to be working!

The influence of Africans, former slaves in Argentina in the late 1800s, is well documented (see Robert Farris Thompson's Tango, an Art History of Love). African Argentines performed precursor dances called candombe and canyengue, both incorporated into modern tango. The popular form of tango, called "milonga" has an African percussive beat and its name is derived from African. Milonga is the tango style you see us teaching in the video. It is no wonder that the tango aptitude among the young Kenyans was impressively high. It is also due in part to the pent-up desire we all have to live a creative life.

Many of you know that more than ten years ago, I quit my day job as I was swept away by tango. I'm still in love with the dance. And I can say that in the way of the soul, tango has been a sort of "poverty-reduction" for me, its riches tangible and spiritual. I hope you'll be my partner in Tango Goes (back) to Africa and contribute what you can.
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I'd like to share with you the unexpected success of this project just one year since Mungai and I went to Nairobi to teach tango to young adults (economically disadvantaged, to put it mildly). Mungai and I have left Kenya, but today the youths are amazing, accomplished dancers. Newton just sent these three videos of him and Samuel dancing with Evelyn and Edel. Very few people dance tango this well after one year. Very few people can interpret tango music this quickly. (And let's not forget that tango has deep roots in Africa.) We are so proud of them---and much of the kudos goes to Mungai who spent a year working tirelessly with the Kenyan youth. Newton and Sam have developed their own style (you can't tell but Newton is about 6'4", graceful as a gazelle). You can see in the background that the space where they dance is quite ramshackle and that they don't always have real dance shoes. But they have PASSION and that coupled with all of your support made this happen. I continue to send them money every month to rent the floor space and I dream of going back, or supporting other tango teachers who would be willing to go and work with these now advanced tangueros. It really is nothing short of miraculous. Thanks to all!
Newton & Evelyne
Newton & Edel
Sam & Evelyne
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Hey, it's been awhile but four of our students in Nairobi just sent me 3 videos of them dancing tangos. Notice the real shoes (thanks to your donations) and that these four students after just seven months of dedicated study are ready to start teaching. That is the goal! For those who ask, yes, Mungai, my teaching partner is still there on site. No, I don't know when he'll return to the U.S. maybe never! I'm here still raising fund for this creative approach to poverty. Enjoy the videos!
Newton Lugasi & Rachel
Newton & Sarah dance tango (vals) waltz
Sam & Rachel raise the roof!
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Mungai has extended his stay in Kenya through the end of the year. Missing him so much here in SF where I'm still fundraising for Tango Nairobi, I watched the video below for a virtual visit. It's from March 18, 2014. Makes me misty.
Tango Nairobi class
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Back in the U.S.A! Culture shock. I have several things to update you on: 1. I'm back in SF, but Mungai continues with the tango instruction in Nairobi through July. 2. The success of some of our students exceeded expectations. 3. I am continuing to seek grants and financial support to stay with this program. It's got legs, literally and figuratively. 4. Mungai and I have broken from the two persons at Peace at Heart Network Initiatives (PHIN), our original contacts for this project, due to their unethical behaviors. I'll say no more on this for now. But please know that the youth we've worked with are beautiful, wonderful, talented individuals beyond reproach. And we are able to keep teaching them through July. I'm posting three videos that highlight just a few of the most edifying, inspiring, stimulating moments in my life. Watch and enjoy!
Nancy & Anne "Afro-Tango" fusion
Traditional African Dance & Acrobatics
Tango Nairobi Scenes, 2014
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Read a Previous Update
Juliet Nthenya
56 months ago

The project is so enriching. We thank you all for the support you continue to give.

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$5,600 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 59 people in 61 months
Created September 21, 2013
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EW
$100
Elizabeth Wright
44 months ago

Your new dancers - Newton, Evelyne, Edel and Sam, look great! Congratulations!

LL
$50
Leo Landa
44 months ago

You guys put me to shame. Nice going!

MK
$50
Mutheu Kivuvani
51 months ago

Keep up the good work Mungai!

JS
$35
Judith Stacey
54 months ago

muy impresionante, Camille! Here's another vote of support.

FO
$35
Faith Oswald
56 months ago

Good to see your posts/photos of your tango adventures in Africa. I loved reading "Tango: an Argentine Love Story". Would love a copy of "The Last Cannoli".....all the best to you and your students....(-:

$50
Etsuko Sakimura
56 months ago

Bravo!! You both really touched my heart. Big hug to you. Stay healthy. Etsuko

LD
$30
Lisa Duby
56 months ago (Offline Donation)

Thanks, Li!

O:
$100
Olivia (Snookie :)
56 months ago (Offline Donation)

Thank you, Olivia. XO

SW
$50
Sybille Weber
56 months ago

What a wonderful project! Bon courage!

LH
$100
Lucinda Hayden
56 months ago

Dear Camille, I will miss your wonderful tango teaching so much here in San Francisco but I am so happy to support you in taking that wonderful tango teaching to Africa. I can't wait to hear all about your journey with this adventure!! I'm sending you huge hugs and all my love, Lucinda

Juliet Nthenya
56 months ago

The project is so enriching. We thank you all for the support you continue to give.

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