N’Fungola Sibo African Dance and Drum Company


N’Fungola Sibo African Dance and Drum Company




This is about the history of N’Fungola Sibo African Dance and Drum Company located in the city of New Orleans.


An interview with the owner and director of N'fungola Sibo African Dance and Drum Company.


Aviwe DuBois


My Nola My Story via YouTube


Mass Communications department at Xavier University of Louisiana


December 10, 2019


Mikeall "Myienie" Caesar
N'Fungola Sibo Dance Company


My Nola, My Story


My Nola, My Story 2019 Exhibit




iMovie, Video




A Digital Humanities project by Xavier University of Louisiana’s Mass Communication department students, led by Dr. Shearon Roberts

Original Format



So my name is Mikeall, Myienie Caesar. Um, I am the owner-director of N’Fungola Sibo West African dance company based in New Orleans, Louisiana.


The meaning of my company's name is, uh, this is my dream and it's in Mandingo language.


My family, um, I had some, a little cousin, she was much younger than me, her mother, which, you know, looked at me like a daughter and I used to take care of my little cousin and stuff. So she was the one dancing, well one of the long-time friends who has a children's company here and that was founded by the late Papa Abdoulaye Camara from Senegal West Africa and um, Jean Curry from out of New Orleans, Louisiana. So I started in that group, which is Culu’s Children’s Traditional West African Dance Company and it still exists today. So I started with that company and based on the relationship with the inner spirit, what, me being in touch with the dance, the founder of the company late Papa Abdoulaye Camara who christened me later on in life and which is my godfather, um, he asked me to keep the legacy alive cause he always thought that I wasn't just a good dancer, that I was a good teacher. So I started at the age of maybe like 13, really teaching people to really dance traditional style as the and translated from the format, from how he showed because he didn't speak English fluently. So, and he did, he spoke French, but here we are not fluent in French. So a lot of people struggle with the interpretation of how he taught even saying left-right. You know, and by me studying with him in the 80s, he asked me to continue. He was then founded a company which was, I was the assistant artistic director, which is called Allahbatu. And it, um, I died after Katrina, but um, up until Katrina I was assistant teaching over there. And, um, that's when I actually picked up the name for N‘Fungola Sibo, which might've been in 1998. And then, and maybe exactly in 2000 is when he asked me. He was like, okay, you know, you need to have a performance company because Allahbatu was a community class so everybody in the city could come to that class for free. And he had told me, he was like, it's a lot to run a company like that. And by him doing a lot of charity work here for the city, for the boy’s home millionaire provided a space for us. So that's how we were able to still, um, do dance classes. So we had community classes and so when he sought a hardship of just still getting, you know, funding for us to get costumes made for us to do, you know, community shows and stuff like that. He told me, he was like, you know, you need to have a performing company. He gave me the name N’Fungola Sibo and he was like, that's your dream, to dance. So he knew


I think more so because I think it was something embedded in me. It was a spirit that probably knew it was embedded in me. It wasn't nothing that I was taught. I wasn't taught anything. You know, like I said, we come from mixed families. So you know here in New Orleans, in America, you still all blended family and I never saw color because you know, my family was still Creole family and you know, so we were still a blended family and they never taught me anything about color. So when I started dancing I liked the energy of African dance. So that's what got me moving. And I was already a dancer, like New Orleans dance. I was already a bounce dancer and stuff, but I never, nobody never trained me. That was already in me. Like my oldest brother, he believed in me way when I was a little bitty girl doing New Orleans, bounce dance. He was like, there's nobody in the city that could beat my little sister. It was like, you know, he always thought that of me and he will always put me in competitions. I was always in talent shows, you know, I used to have all my cousins and best friends. We used to always just come up with choreography, getting all types of competitions to win. Like we were just competitive like that. But competitive for the art, not just competitive to say, Oh, I'm better than that person. We never would do that. We always had our own specialty inside of our group. So like whatever I was good at, that's what I applied to our group. Like my cousin, you know, she was good at writing music and singing when I'm was rapping. My other friend, she was good at singing too as well. So we, and I was at, at rapping and dancing, so I will make up choreographies and beats, you know, so we kind of like gel that together. And when we saw that we could apply the African rhythms inside because she was the African as to when I started doing African dance, I brought home and we was like a real and it was like a, a real force together. And you know, he knew that he believed in us with that and he, that was the first thing. He was like, you know, I was a good dancer and I love what I do. It wasn't just I was doing it because I don't make a whole lot of money, but I still love what I do like is satisfied my spirit. And that's really why I do it. And I want to encourage other people to do that because what feeds your spirit is go for you to help. That's what gave you long life. I don't believe like when they give me you life, I believe like your health or you know, your spirit food. So


Well, we normally like in a rotation with the festivals. So we have done a lot of French quarter festival events. We have done Congo Square festival every year for the past maybe 12,13 years. Um, we have done Mmm Mmm. Oh, essence festival even we have done, you know, Oh Bayou Boogaloo festivals we had the jazz festival events and we do like a lot of private corporate events too. So you know, we have baby showers. So you have somebody who's doing wedding ceremonies. We do a lot of birthday parties too have been a big thing now. So we've been sending a lot of people, I guess since after Wakanda came out I got a people been done like you know, the soul searching and just like they always want to incorporate African dance. And not only that, um, you know, we're a dance company, be we're a drum a female drum performing company too. So you know, we and we sing. So we do a lot of different things. So, you know, we, we do a lot of performance throughout the city and out of the city, you know, and out of the state, you know, of course, you know, we travel a few places doing a lot of events. I mean, you would be surprised the type of events that people call me for


Problem is, is like, um, a lot of people don't, they're scared they'll put in the work behind picking up a start in another city. So like for me it's not about me doing the work cause I do all the leg work here for myself as well. And I have a good support system here. You saw my company that wasn't even, it's not even a third of them. So I have a really good support system and what we do is we do a lot of researching for other members. Like, you know, most of the time I have a lot of people that called me from out of town when they come in town, like I looked up online and you're the first person I saw. So I tried to introduce it to different cities, but they don't have a big community of, you know, cultural people like that. So sometimes it's a little slow start. But yeah, I do want to expand because you have other people that are still, they have like three people in that whole city that really liked doing it, but they just don't know where to start. So, you know, sometimes it'd be just, you know, trying to get out to the communities. Eventually, I'm gonna get to different cities and get to different counsel men in that city and then try to help them start some type of cultural group you know in their city just to help them out. And they have to be. We, like I said, I'm a diverse company, so everybody's welcome. It's not just this, just to get you in touch with your culture, everybody culture because if you are American, you a mixed group of people, so it doesn't matter, so you know, white, black, whoever, everybody can still feel music. You know, everybody has to have feelings, so, and eventually, they get there. Hopefully, before I die.


My ultimate dream is to open up our state of the art center. I want to open up a school that not only works with the American system to help educate the children and underprivileged children for special needs, all type of needs. I'm not just talking about mental, but I'm talking about disabilities. I want to be able to, to have a facility that gives children and the parents of blending bind because that's why our disconnect is so even like I said, it's not just for underprivileged. It's going to be for people, that can pay that can afford to pay, that want to give their children a diverse, you know, education on life, period. It's not just about the dance. It's going to be like far as systems education just worldwide. I like going outside thinking outside of the box cause a lot of our children don’t get a chance to travel. So even if they come, it's almost like a boarding school but not a boarding school. It'll be more like what you would consider your typical homeschool to be. But people don't are scared to put that type of effort and to fulfill in that particular homeschool. Like you would have to have a school for children who have special needs, like for physical disabilities, for mental disabilities. You know, you have to have, um, a school that can still have children that has to function at a normal capacity. You have to have a school that may have the arts in the school, not just dance, but music, like drums, basketball, football, baseball, music. I have all types of, you have some children that want to engineering chemical engineering. I have people that have, you know, I have degrees, you know, and all types of backgrounds, but it's just gonna take a small, you know, it's going to take a small pot of money to get to the outcome. And we know we're working on it, we're working on it, you know, we working on it hopefully, and probably after this interview, somebody might see that idea to see that picture and want to help. Like, you know what, let's make this school a state of the art school because you don't have a lot of, um, um, multicultural arts schools. That are state of the arts that can function at the, at a high capacity still for the youth, you know, and the family's like, you know, it's just, it's a lot that you can do like for cooking and teaching them what type of foods you should and shouldn't eat. You know we have, we have, we have a big, we have a big system right now that nobody don't know about and it’s time that people hear about my system because I have a group of people that you know, can really change. You know, a group of children, and when you start with one, you know it's a domino effect. You know, just like a style, just like clothes. Everybody want to put on something, you know, if they want to be half-naked, everybody, half-naked, everybody see that? You know, if you know these popular artists put this on, they may think that's cool because that's what they see. That's what's televised. But how about let's just start with a small group of children. You know, you can get 50 kids that might have a problem and put them in a facility and see what the outcome is. If you have teachers that specialize in reading, math, social studies, language arts, music, dance, drum, football, basketball like you can have the best of the best that come out of small school. That's undiscovered talents. And that's what I want to have a school for undiscovered talent.





Date Added
November 12, 2019
Item Type
Moving Image
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Aviwe DuBois, “N’Fungola Sibo African Dance and Drum Company,” MY NOLA, MY STORY , accessed September 24, 2023, https://xulamasscomm.omeka.net/items/show/102.