Story by Sean Beach and Jaharee Mack. Transcription by Michael Blackson. Photo by Jaharee Mack.
FEB. 9, 2016: In September of 2015, Jahree Mack and I had the opportunity to interview Mrs. Bonita W. Cacho. So who is Bonita Cacho? Currently she is working at Friendship Tech Prep as a teacher of performing arts and African/Caribbean culture and drama. We call her Mamma Cacho and that has a connection with Africa. She also works at the Theatre Department of George Washington University.
Mrs. Bonita Cacho got into African drumming when she had a dance company with her husband called Andrew Cacho African Drummers and Dancers. Mr. Cacho was one of the pioneers who brought African drumming and dancing to Washington, DC. He came in 1969, and incorporated the company in 1970. It is the oldest African dance company in the city.
Mrs. Cacho thinks it is important to teach black youth their history and culture. Mrs. Cacho stated, “If you know you come from kings and queens and scholars and prophets, then that makes your mind change, it makes you know something different about yourself. If you only know that you were made to be a slave, then that’s all you know. But if you find out that you are from kings and queens, it makes a difference for your mindset. You know that you’re somebody and that you have value. You know that you have somewhere to go, that you came from someone.”
Mrs. Cacho believes that she needs to teach black youth their African culture. She is from Ohio, and in 1971 she demanded that the school that she went to should give students a Black History teacher. If Mrs. Cacho hadn’t taken a course like that she wouldn’t be the person she is today. Mrs. Cacho told us, “We are what we have done. When you know who you are, it’s good as gold. When you know that you came from great things, you treat everybody differently”.
Mr. and Mrs. Cacho went into prisons and jails to teach the black youth about their culture. So, back in the day when they were given grants, they used to do performances at Lorton Reformatory. As they walked in the courtyard people called,“Cacho! Cacho!”
Mrs. Cacho started teaching African culture, dancing, and drumming in the year of 1977. She told us that stilt walking is a part of the African culture. It is the problem solver of
Africa. People would just get on stilts to forget about their problems.
When we asked Mrs. Cacho to rank African culture and drumming from 1-10, she told us that she has given it a 10 because, “This is my life and I am a part of a theater company”.
Mamma Cacho is a wonderful person to teach African culture. As we are taking her class it really makes us want to be more engaged in learning more about different African cultures. There is more information about her. You can look her up on this website https://theatredance.columbian.gwu.edu/bonita-cacho.
Jaharee Mack and Michael Blackson are 8th grade scholars and Sean Beach is a 7th grade scholar at Friendship Tech Prep Middle Academy.