WE ARE GIWAYEN MATA
The award-winning, dynamic, soul-stirring, all-sistah, dance, percussion, and vocal ensemble.
Giwayen Mata’s mission is to celebrate our lives as women and uplift our communities and our planet, while perpetuating the cultures of Africa and the Afrikan Diaspora through the study, creation, teaching, and presentation of artistic media including dances, rhythms, songs, poetry, and prose around the world.
Top row from left to right: Sarahn Henderson, Sauda Jackson-Bey, Ramatu Sabbatt, Gail V. Zuri Jordan, Omelika Kuumba, Andrea Richards Bottom row from left to right: Ife Hendricks, Osunlade Fatunmise, Shalewa MacKall, Ama Tyus.
The seed for the ensemble was planted in 1991 when Ramatu Afegbua Mahmud Sabbatt organized sistahs for jam sessions in city parks of Atlanta. This was done in the spirit of the principles of Kuumba and Kujichagulia (Kiswahili words for creativity and self-determination). This experience allowed many of the participating women to hone their respective talents either individually or with performing companies.
In 1993, GIWAYEN MATA was formed in response to a call to Gail Vernon Zuri Sami Ra Maati Jordan from Amirah Wazir, the coordinator for Celebration ’93, an annual fundraising fashion show and Mother’s Day celebration sponsored by the women of the Atlanta Mas-jid Al Islam. Amirah was seeking an all-female entertainment group. At Zuri’s request, Omelika Kuumba brought together eight of the other women from the jam sessions: Osunlade Fatunmise, Sarahn Henderson, Ife Hendricks, Sauda Jackson-Bey, Shalewa Mackall, Andrea Richards, Ramatu Sabbatt, and Ama Tyus.
Currently under the vision and artistic direction of Tambra Omiyale Harris who succeeds her mentor and Artistic Director Emerita Omelika Kuumba, Giwayen Mata produces performance works and classes that highlight the African Diaspora and the hidden treasures of Black womanhood.