Ancestral Connections is a program that promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts within organizations of all sizes and types by offering structured opportunities for individuals to connect with the ancestors that came before them—and live on within them—through the power of music.

  • Project Summary: Ancestral Connections is a program that aims to awaken the connections of people to their ancestral roots through the power of traditional African music, rhythm, sound, and cultural experience. The project aims to:
    • Provide an opportunity for individuals to experience connecting with their ancestors as an integral part of themselves
    • Inspire a rich and vibrant individual understanding of self
    • Activate real experience of connection to and influence of their ancestors
    • Build confidence and positive self-identity of individuals and communities
  • Mission Statement: Ancestral Connections will deepen individual and community understanding of their real, lived identities in the trajectory of the past, present, and future.

Program Offerings

Ancestral Connections Mini-Program (single 1.5-3 hour session; up to 25 participants per program recommended)

Ancestral Connections Series (four 2-3 hour sessions; up to 25 participants per program recommended)

Non-profit rates are available to 501c3 organizations and government entities providing programming for community benefit. Please contact Nyttu Chongo for current rates and availability.

The Story

When Nyttu Chongo arrived in the United States in 2016, he was struck by the hunger that Americans have for authentic connections their ancestral past and the impact that lack of connection seems to have on individual identity and self-actualization. Nyttu Chongo has performed extensively throughout the Midwest since 2017, producing his CD Libandzuwa: The Power of the Sun in 2021 through support of the Minnesota State Arts Board and teaching in Minnesota schools through the Minnesota Public Radio Class Notes program from 2021 to the present. He was also named a 2021-2022 Cedar Commissions Fellow and 2022 MacPhail Global Artist in Residence and has appeared in Minnesota Orchestra Hall, the Guthrie Theater, and other prominent local stages. In each performance, Nyttu Chongo has observed the connection that the audience has with his music and has drawn upon practices learned in his upbringing in Mozambique to leverage the power of music to open one’s awareness of their ancestral roots.

What to Expect

The intent of Ancestral Connections is to provide a safe and inclusive space for individuals to experience connecting with their ancestors as an integral part of themselves through the power of music. Ancestral Connections is designed to serve nonprofit, education, and corporate entities with a sliding scale of pricing based on organization type. The program can be delivered in a mini-program (single 2-3 hour session) or the Ancestral Connections Series (four 2-3 hour sessions spaced out over the course of a month). We come to you, or arrange a neutral, public space to rent that can accommodate your group. The lightly-structured environment of the Ancestral Connections curriculum may be a new experience for many participants. As a Facilitator, Nyttu Chongo provides insights and reflections on the instruments he plays and the importance of ancestral relationships in African cultures, with a focus on his context of the  Machangana. However, the majority of time spent will be in meditative introspection and ancestral connection guided through acoustic traditional African instruments, played live by Nyttu Chongo. Participants will be welcomed to make themselves comfortable, move, or play along with the music, responding as the music and experience guides. To close each session, the group will be guided in focused conversation to unpack the experience individually and as a collective.