Taratibu means "slow and orderly," in Kiswahili, the national language of several East African countries. Taratibu is also a Pan-African drill, based based on the South African “gum boot” dance. It combines traditional African dance with contemporary military movements, traditional Negro spirituals, contemporary gospel and traditional African songs in Kiswahili and Zulu, the most widely spoken language in South Africa.
Taratibu is similar in form to “stepping” done by African American fraternities and sororities, where rhythms are created with their feet and hands and performed in lines with chants and songs done in a cappella. Taratibu takes stepping to another level by adding influences in song, movement and spoken word from African and African American culture.
The choreography of Taratibu is used to instill messages of self-respect, responsibility, nation-building and spirituality. It is a fresh approach to teaching African history, cooperation, team building, leadership and discipline.
Taratibu began at Nationhouse Positive Action Center, Watoto Shule under the direction of Afia Akoto. Arla Scott (Mama Arla) studied Taratibu with “Mama Afia” and thereafter taught Taratibu with the DC Youth Ensemble (DCYE).
In 1990, Arla Scott started the DCYE Taratibu Drill Team and has since performed Taratibu nationwide as well as internationally in the Virgin Islands and Edinburgh, Scotland. After approximately15 years of teaching and performing Taratibu with DCYE, Mama Arla started the Taratibu Youth Association (TYA) in August of 2007
Taratibu teaches and uses the seven principles of Kwanzaa in its class structure and choreography:
Umoja – unity
Kujichagulia – self determination
Ujima – collective work and responsibility
Ujamaa – cooperative economics
Kuumba – creativity
Nia – purpose
Imani – faith
Literally it means, "seed of the wawa tree." The seed of the wawa tree is very hard. We chose this symbol to represent us because it means toughness and perseverance. To us, the wawa aba symbol speaks to our inner strength, stability, and resilience.