MAPENZI is a dance documentary by Chani Bockwinkel chronicling the Bahiya Movement. Bahiya was founded in 2011 Afia Thompson and her daughter Nafi. Bahiya fuses hip-hop, jazz, modern and African dance to create an electrifying, energetic movement. In 2014, WYV interviewed Afia Thompson. Since then, the movement has grown.
“My vision for Bahiya Movement is to cross and break all barrier lines regarding body image and self-esteem through the art of dance,” Afia Thompson says. “Our goal is to show the world that it’s not about your body size or type that defines you as a dancer, rather the skill, technical training, creativity and love of the art that defines you as a great dancer.”
Born into the Black Panthers, Afia Thompson deeply embraces her Oakland, California, heritage, which informs Bahiya in many ways.
“I love Oakland because it is so diverse and a cultural melting pot,” she says. “I grew up in East Oakland and experienced different aspects of traditional Latin culture by being surrounded by it daily. My mother danced Traditional African dance such as Haitian, Cuban and West African, and would take me to all these dance classes. My father was a percussionist, and played the traps, congas and other instruments with his friends of all walks of life. My parents were involved in the Black Panther Party, and stayed very connected to our African roots. I grow up being exposed to culture here in the Bay area. I have lived in other states and have yet to see any other state offer the vast amount of culture that is grounded here in Oakland. I have passed the love of the arts to my daughter. I hope that she will continue with this love affair with culture, music and the arts.”
If you are in the Bay area, you can see MAPENZI and a Bahiya dance performance free on Saturday, May 21, at 4 p.m. at 970 Grace Ave in Oakland.