Episode 9: Byb Bibene, African Renaissance Man

Byb Bibene. Photo: Courtesy

An the beginning, Byb Bibene’s story reads like a typical tale of an African immigrant in the west. Born Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo, Bibene arrived in the United States to find that even though he was educated in French (with masters degree)in the United States he was, as he puts it, “illiterate”. He could have done what some immigrants once they find out that their degrees are worthless in America: Take a menial job and find a way to stay afloat. But Bibene decided to shoot for the sky.

Not only did he learn English, but he also earned another masters degree. And he did all that while running a dance company he founded as soon as he arrived in order to keep a spiritual connection to Africa. Today, Bibene is a highly regarded writer, actor, dance teacher, choreographer, and artistic director of San Francisco Bay Area-based Kiandanda Dance Theater. In this episode, he talks about his upcoming show and film festival, how he uses art to advocate for social justice, and how staying true to Congolese culture through the philosophy of Mbongui fuels his ambitions.