"I’m a man of the people so that
makes me the people’s King. Not standing over them but being
with, so don’t expect the reveling to stop!”
Theo’s combination of gravity defying leaps, power steps, and
overflowing energy continues to make a strong impression. With an
extended hand and a smile, the King can get even the most reserved
subject to join him on the dance floor; leave inhibitions behind and
move in the spirit, which is Carnaval!
is an arts administrator and Director for Caribelinq. Caribelinq
fosters cultural and artistic exchanges with performing artists from
Africa and the African Diaspora.
I’m usually a behind the scenes guy.” King Theolonius I confesses,
“So this is a switch for me.”
Speaking seriously about the arts, the youth and Caribelinq, Theo
expounds on the fulfillment of working with young people in
Oakland’s Havenscourt Middle School, his recent work with Cuban
filmmaker Gloria Rolando and how we must continue to work to
eliminate the free trade embargo with Cuba.
He also expresses his concern for the future of large festivals that
bring the masses together in the spirit of celebration.
“I’m passionate about what I do and see my
position as a great platform for increasing awareness of
issues affecting Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America."
Oakland, California native speaks proudly about his hometown and
attributes much of his success to the exposure he received in early
years through the Oakland Public Schools. He points to everyday
lessons in multiculturalism with pride. “ We celebrated Chinese New
Year, Black History Month, Cinco de Mayo and listened to music from
all parts of the world. It was a great time and place to grow up.”
He also respectfully acknowledges a solid family upbringing in the
Pentecostal Church where joy filled expression is encouraged. On
Carnaval day our multi-faceted King says,”
"I will be
representing my family and ancestors, Oakland, Fogo Na Roapa and the
The assent of King Theolonius I begins with last year's Carnaval when
Theo’s returned to Oakland from Atlanta, GA. Fogo Program Manager,
Regina Calloway encouraged him to join Fogo’s Carnival Contingent
and participate in the Pipoca, which according to popular Bahian
Carnaval tradition means
popcorn-a jumping up frenzy!
Theo’s energy while Fogo laid down a musical backdrop of reggae and funk
laced Brazilian beats Theo was soon shirtless, running up and down
the sides of the contingent jumping 5 feet in the air, landing
spread eagle and bouncing up to hit a crowd pleasing dance move or
“ I’m still a
student. I thank Mestre Carlos Aceituno for teaching me and thank
the Fogo family for accepting me, and the Bay Area for welcoming me
home." He continues "I’m a man of the people so that makes me the
people’s King. Not standing over then but being with, so don’t
expect the reveling to stop!”
When speaking about Fogo’s Carnaval theme for 2001, “EXODUS.blingbling”
King Thoelonius I reflects upon Mestre Aceituno’s vision of struggle
and celebration and ties it into his own vision.
“ The exodus that Carlos is talking about is native peoples around
the world, starting with our own communities, I see it happening
locally in West Oakland through “gentrification.” The youth are
focused on the BlingBling cash money
culture and technology is moving society at a unbelievable pace. We
have to meet the issues of the day head on. The Carnaval spirit
allows the community to ignite creativity and deal with the best and
worst of life with passion. We all need to release.
The bateria lays the
musical groundwork and I create on top. It becomes somewhat of a
spiritual connection, the drums evoke the leaps and jumps and you
forget about how exhausted you really are."
Up he goes,
King Theolonius I, son of
Fogo Na Roupa, and reigning monarch of the SF Carnaval 2001.
When he hits the ground and blows his whistle; the people gather:
then get ready!
GET ON! The Party is About to Start!