It was Father's Day 2003 when Malonga Casquelourd, internationally renowned drummer and dancer, was killed in a head-on collision with a drunken driver in Oakland. Casquelourd, 55, was such a Bay Area institution for so long, his presence was so large, it doesn't seem possible he has been gone that long.
But he has, at least in body. On Saturday his family and the numerous artists he worked with will present a celebration of his life, called a Malaki Matanga.
"Malaki Matanga is the name of the traditional Congolese ceremony," said Kiazi Malonga, his oldest son. "It is the celebration of the end of mourning when someone passes."
Because Casquelourd was so involved with the arts, the family decided to combine the traditional ceremony with a performance.
"It will show the collaboration of all the areas, artists, styles and cultures he touched and worked with," Malonga said. "It's a way to include the entire community to make it a celebration of my father's legacy."
Muisi-kongo Malonga, Malonga's oldest daughter, said the ceremony provides closure.
"During the time of mourning, life is on hold. The family decides to wear dark colors and do different things to show the world they're in mourning. When the period is over, it's time to go back to regular life," she said.
In accordance with Congolese tradition, Casquelourd's children shaved their heads in mourning.
"The last celebration was melancholy and sad,"she recalled. "Now, two years later, there will be a lot more joy involved. We're far enough removed to look at the happy things. We have more perspective on his life."
In October, Martin Burgermyer, the driver of the car that collided with Casquelourd's, pleaded no contest to vehicular manslaughter and DUI causing bodily injury and was sentenced to four years in prison.
Casquelourd, an ambassador of Congolese culture, founded Fua Dia Congo, a dance group, and Diata Diata, a women's drumming group, and he was a founding member of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. He was a major factor in the East Bay's development as one of the nation's most advanced African dance communities.
He taught in East Palo Alto and at San Francisco State University. Every Saturday for 25 years, he taught a dance class at Citicentre Dance Theatre, most recently based at the Alice Arts Center in Oakland. Last year, the center was renamed the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts. His children continue his work, participating in the annual Congolese camp in the Sierra foothills; Muisi-kongo does the warm-up for the Saturday class.
"There is a Congolese proverb, 'Wa Dia Fua Yiaa Dio,' that says when someone passes on something to you, it is your responsibility to add on and not just to keep it as it's given to you, but to build on that," Kiazi said. "What my father left us as family and kids, as community, it's up to us to continue and add to the foundation he built. When we pass it on, it will be richer, bigger. This is the first step in attempting to add on to his gift."
Malaki Matanga for Malonga will be held at the Stanford University Memorial Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Saturday with performances by CK Ladzekpo and the African Dance Ensemble, John Santos, Dimensions Dance Theater, Fogo Na Ropa, Diamano Coura, Carla Service and Dance A Vision, Fua Dia Congo and more. Tickets are $20 adults and $10 children, 12 and under.
Tim Barsky, a San Francisco musician and Jewish storyteller, returns to the Oakland Metro stage this weekend with a new production, "Invisible Cities."
Barsky is perhaps best known for his work interpreting Dante's "Inferno" through the critically acclaimed play "Bright River." In that play, Barsky combined an assortment of beat-boxers, classical and jazz musicians and his own unique voice to create a performance so compelling its run was extended for several weeks as shows continued to sell out.
"Invisible Cities," presented by Everyday Theatre and Epic Arts, also incorporates beat-boxing, body percussion and spoken word into a stage performance. Barsky joins Mina Liccione and Mike "Each" Tinoco on a journey through a set of narratives about San Francisco and Oakland.
The stories are about the streets, the buildings and, mostly, the people.
"Invisible Cities" is playing today and Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway. Tickets can be purchased by calling 644-2204 or visiting http://www.epicarts.org/invisiblecities.
- Tonight Vaughan Johnson Group, North and South American jazz, 8 p.m., the Jazzschool, 2087 Addison St., Berkeley, $10.
- Tonight Bobby Matos, monster Los Angeles percussionist in a rare intimate setting, 8 p.m., La Pea, 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, $12 advance, $15 at the door. Advance purchase advised.
- Saturday Praise Jam Family Festival, featuring the Oakland Innercity Gospel Choir, the Dance Theatre of the Gospel, Sisterly, Stars of Joy, Oakland Silvertones and more, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mosswood Park, Oakland.
- Sunday Shotgun Players' production of "Cyrano de Bergerac," 4 p.m. John Hinkel Park, San Diego Road and Somerset Place, Berkeley. Bring a lawn chair.
- Tuesday Warsaw Village Band, Bay Area debut, 8 p.m., Lake Merritt Church, 1330 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland, $18 advance, $20 at the door.
- Wednesday Downtown Berkeley Jazz Festival "A Celebration of Latin Jazz," opening reception, 6 to 8 p.m., salsa dance lessons, 8 to 9:30 p.m., concert featuring Orquesta America, 10 p.m., Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. Thursday, concerts at various downtown locations, for times and locations visit jazzschool.com/dbjf2005 and click schedule of events.
- Thursday Oakland International Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Film Festival, and Aug. 20-21, see http://www.bbitl.net for times and films, Parkway Speakeasy Theater, 1834 Park Blvd, $8.
- Thursday Photo: The Subvention and Subversion of Photography, artists' reception, 5 to 8 p.m., Oakland Art Gallery, 199 Kahn's Alley, off Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland. Exhibit through Sept. 24 (gallery hours 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday).
- Thursday New Visions: Introductions 2005, annual juried exhibition, artists' reception, 6 to 8 p.m., Pro Arts, 550 Second St., Oakland. Exhibit through Oct. 2 (gallery hours noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday).