Tuesday, February 12, 2013

African Boot Dancers Welcomed by Assemblymember Weber to the California State Capitol


SACRAMENTO, CA -  Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego) along with Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) and the California Legislative Black Caucus Members, welcomed the Kliptown African Gumboot Dancers  to the State Capitol on Monday, February 11, 2013.  They brought an extraordinary performance to the Assembly Chambers in celebration of Black History Month.

Assemblymember Weber delivered an exceptional speech and expressed how she is very supportive of the Kliptown Youth Program, which trains and mentors these exceptionally talented rhythm steppers despite the fact they live in a community which lack tap water and extreme poverty. 

The Kliptown Youth Program was founded in 2007 in Johannesburg, South Africa to eradicate the poverty of mind, body, and soul.  It also fights against the disadvantages imposed on the
children of Kliptown, which had an unemployment rate of 72 percent in 2005. The program, which has a membership of 400 children, provides educational support and after school activities that focus on tutoring, athletics and the performance arts, including the traditional South African Gumboot Dance. The dancers have traveled from South Africa to many areas around the globe, sharing their talents with spectators to raise funds for the program. The goal of the program is to develop young and dynamic individuals who are willing to participate in these activities to better their community and future.

Gumboot Dance originated in the African mines of Capetown. The miners were not allowed to talk with one another, so they developed a system where they would hit their boots. This soon became more than just a communication system as they started to incorporate dance and step into it. In fact, this form of dance is mimicked today by many sororities and fraternities throughout the country.

The Kliptown Youth Program grew out of a strong belief held by the program’s Director, Thulani Madondo, that a quality after-school program could provide the structure and academic assistance needed outside of school hours by the youth in their challenged township community. In recognition of his work on the program, Mr. Madondo was selected among 45,000 nominees as CNN’s Top-10 Hero of the Year in September 2012.

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