In Tanzania, acrobatics has its place in society as a popular pastime and career, and Mama Africa school serves this need by instructing the youth in the art of acrobatics. Here, one can see photos of the Zimbabwean school founder Winston Ruddel‘s school, which offers a dynamic view of the Mama Africa experience.
During U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama‘s 2013 trip to Dar es Salaam, one of the chief ways she and her family were entertained was with a youth performance of acrobatics by Baba wa Watoto dance group.
Watch Baba wa Watoto dance group perform here:
The performance is indicative of the love many Tanzanians have for acrobatics, which explains why when Ruddel (pictured below), a circus performer, decided to look for young acrobats for a
performance he was holding in America, he came straight to Tanzania.
“I was offered a contract in Las Vegas for a circus show, so I came to Tanzania to find youngsters with some good basics of acrobatics.”
But, according to Ruddel, the Americans didn’t like the boys’ performance, so he was compelled to find them other jobs as acrobats — and this brought unexpected opportunity for all.
“We put a show together, but the Americans didn’t like the boys. I had already promised them a contract, so I started to look for jobs for them.
“In the end, we got so much work that I had to open an acrobats’ school to meet the demand. It went from a small mistake to a big success.”
To date, the school, which was founded in 2003, has trained more than 300 students who train during holidays, weekends, and after school. And while the school isn’t funded by the government or privately, all students are ensured a plate of food by the day’s end.
Mama Africa alumni and teacher Ally Kibwana Ally says of his experience, “For me, getting involved with Mama Africa meant that I was able to make a living out of my skills. I have toured the world and learned a lot from my experiences abroad. I am now passing that knowledge to other students so they can have the same chances I had.”
See photos of Mama Africa students and trainers here: