Interviewed at Wedgewood Housing Estate Columbus by Sandra Grady
30 April 2011

Bantu MixedDJ is a dance troupe that performs both traditional Somali Bantu dance and contemporary American dance at weddings and other Somali Bantu gatherings. The group was founded by Hassan Hassan, a teenage refugee from Somalia, in 2006 after he attended a wedding in St. Louis, MO. The Somali Bantu are an ethnic minority population from Somalia who lived in farming communities in the fertile southern part of the country before the state collapsed in 1990-91. At that time, many Somali Bantu fled to camps in Kenya, where they remained until resettlement to the US began around 2003.

For the Somali Bantu, community gatherings are the central place to share their traditional artistic forms both in Somalia and in resettlement. One of the most important cultural forms for the Somali Bantu is dance, so weddings have become an important place to perform their culture. After his experience in St. Louis, Hassan gathered together a number of his siblings and cousins, not only to continue Somali Bantu performance, but also his family’s history as traditional dancers. The group practices dance routines at their housing project every day, and have traveled to Kentucky, Arizona, New York, Indiana, and Illinois to perform at weddings. They learn new dances from their parents, who are pleased to carry on the family tradition.

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