Ramatu Afegbua-Sabbatt

After relocating to the U.S. from Nigeria, Ramatu Afegbua-Sabbatt single-handedly expanded the cross cultural landscape on both local and international levels when she founded the dynamic non-profit organization Manga African Dance in 1990. Featured in the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic Games, the company’s high-energy repertoire includes dances and rhythms from all over Africa. The Annual Dance and Drum Conference was started by Afegbua-Sabbatt in 2000 and staging of the organization’s signature performance, “The Annual Osun Festival,” began in 1998 and continues to the present day. She began her campaign against childhood obesity in 2004, teaching healthy living through dance. Through African dance and drumming, youth learn about traditional cultures while engaging in a calorie-burning aerobic form of exercise. In 2012, she created a Black History Concert for the U.S. State Department at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria.

Contact:

Arts Disciplines: Theatre/Drama, Storytelling, Music, Dance

Core Content Curriculum Areas: Theatre/Drama, English/Language Arts, Science, Physical Education, Music, Dance, Math, Social Studies/History, Foreign Language 

Specialized Content Areas: Arts Integration, STEAM, World Cultures

Grade Levels: Pre-K, K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, University

Special Populations: At-risk Students, Special Needs Students

Pre-Service Learning and Professional Development: Post-Secondary/Pre-Service Learning, Professional Development for Teaching Artists, Professional Development for K-12 Teachers

Geographic Availability: Metro Atlanta, North Georgia, Middle Georgia, South Georgia

Program Fees:

  • Performances: $525 for one performance, $775 for two performances, $1,300 for three shows, $1,550 for four shows, plus $0.58 per mile from the home office
  • Workshops: $250 for one workshop (minimal requirement is 35 students for dance workshop, and 35 for drumming workshop, which can be run concurrently), $500 for two back-to-back workshops, $750 for three workshops
  • Residencies: $300 per day, $1,500 per week

Artistic Profile:

Before relocating to the U.S., Ramatu Afegbua-Sabbatt had an acting role on State Television in what was then the Gongola State of Nigeria during her teenage years. She single-handedly expanded the cross-cultural landscape, on both local and international levels, when she founded the dynamic nonprofit organization Manga African Dance in 1990. Featured in the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic Games, the company’s high-energy repertoire includes dances and rhythms from all over Africa. The Annual Dance and Drum Conference was started by Afegbua-Sabbatt in 2000 and staging of the organization’s signature performance, “The Annual Osun Festival,” began in 1998 and continues to the present day. She began her campaign against childhood obesity in 2004, teaching healthy living through dance. The “Health is Wealth, Fighting Obesity” campaign targets at-risk-youth. Through African dance and drumming, youth learn about traditional cultures while engaging in a calorie-burning aerobic form of exercise. In 2012, she created a Black History Concert for the U.S. State Department at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria. From 2012 to 2016, she led national ballet dancers, collaborative dance companies in Nigeria, and Kinshasa DRC and other individual artists to perform for the U.S. Embassy Black History Concerts in Nigeria in 2012, and in Kinshasa DRC in 2014, 2015, and 2016. While in Kinshasa, she worked for the State Department at the Congo American Language Institute where she created lesson plans for 45 university professors under her supervision, integrating the arts to teach American cultures. She is a member of The International Dance Council (CID) headquarters in Paris. She represented CID and Manga African Dance to perform solo for the opening and closing of the 42nd World Dance Cup in Whistler, Vancouver, Canada in June-July 2015.

Teaching Experience:

In September 2000, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students who were struggling with math participated in an African dance and drumming 3-week residency at Stone Mountain Charter School. Through dance, Mrs. Afegbua-Sabbatt was able to engage students on the verge of expulsion in learning math concepts such as percentages, degrees, and fractions. In teaching African dance and drumming, Mrs. Afegbua-Sabbatt was able to simplify the concepts and make it fun to learn. Students were so invested in her teaching that they petitioned for Mrs. Afegbua-Sabbatt to return for a two-year teaching stint with the school. Over the course of those two years, Mrs. Afegbua-Sabbatt was able to influence student attitudes about learning, increase self-esteem, and forge school unity. Additionally, Mrs. Afegbua-Sabbatt was able to implement a teacher training program which empowered teachers to replicate the arts-infused concepts in math successfully.

Sample Programs:

  • Rhythm in Motion: The pulsating sounds of Sunu (ceremonial music played by the Malinke people of Guinea and Mali during traditional festivals) transport students to the villages of West Africa, where popular American dances such as the Charleston and popular hip-hop moves were born. Manga traces the evolution of these dances from the marketplaces of the Congo, to the slave ships bound for the Caribbean, to the plantations of the American South, and the nightclubs of the urban North. Students discover how Africans absorbed elements of other cultures along the way and transformed them into new dance styles that have left an indelible mark on American culture.
  • Lokacin Wasa: Typical of many African dances, this program gives artistic expression to a common facet of Nigerian village life—playtime. The choreography combines the strong, energetic, rhythmic footwork and gestures of African dance with movements that communicate the unfettered joy of Nigerian children at play. Students enjoy comparing African games with their own and discovering the common threads that bind all the children of the world.
  • Dance Drama: Manga delivers a captivating dance drama based on the story of a king who travels to another town. There he discovers that knowledge is power. The program opens with a powerful drum call announcing the king’s entrance, follows with a performance of the Lamba (a royal dance), and draws on the dancers’ movements to tell the rest of the tale. Through this storytelling, drumming, and dance, students gain an understanding of how African people preserve their heritage and pass it on to future generations.

Sample Lesson Plans/Study Guides:

Program Photos:

Program Videos: