BAM Affiliation Baba Kwame Ishangi, born December 15, 1934, joined the realm of his beloved ancestors October 22, 2003 in the Gambia, West Africa. Baba was the artistic director of the world renowned Ishangi African Dancers, one of the premier African dance companies established in the United States, which he founded in 1958. His expert leadership molded a dynamic group that is touring extensively to this day. The name “Ishangi” means gatekeeper, or keeper of the culture, and emphasized Baba’s commitment as caretaker and preserver of the customs and traditions of his noble ancestors. His focus was the appreciation and understanding of African culture, i.e. history, philosophy, life-style and the arts. He received worldwide recognition for his work and proficiency. Baba Ishangi has appeared on stage with Baba Chuck during DanceAfrica as The Griot, an "African Storyteller" for many years.
The crowns of Baba Ishangi were many, he was an African folklorist, dancer, percussionist, and choreographer; lecturer on African philosophy, culture, history, current events, and the arts; storyteller, sculptor, African art collector and curator, Egyptian yoga instructor, nutritionist, poet, family counselor, spiritual advisor, teacher, brother, husband and father. After a performance, a teacher asked her students what did the Ishangis give and the children replied, “the gift of life.” Baba unselfishly offered the gift of life to all those with whom he came into contact with, so he was excellent at all the tasks he undertook and much loved by many.