Masankho Banda learned the fine arts of storytelling and dance from his elders. "My grandmother's words, whispered to me when I was five, continuously echo in my ears: ‘Masankho (which means to choose) your destiny is to bring peace and healing through your talents as a dancer, singer and storyteller'."
Masankho arrived in the United States in 1987, and earned a degree in Theater and Dance Arts from the College of Wooster in Ohio. After graduating, Masankho turned down an invitation to study at the Shakespeare School of Acting in New York, opting instead to devote his life to using dance, theater, music, drumming, and storytelling to inspire people of all ages to work together to bring about peace, social justice, and cultural understanding. To further this goal, Masankho received his Master of Arts in Creation Spirituality from Holy Names University in 2001.
He has served as facilitator and participant for many major projects and conferences, among them: the 1993 Children's Conference on Human Rights; the Corporation for National & Community Service; Youth for Environmental Sanity Retreats; and the United Religions Initiative Global Summit meetings. He was associate producer of the Children's World Peace Festival in San Francisco in 1995 and has made peace education trips to Sierra Leone, Mali, and Malawi in Africa and Children's Refugee Camps in Croatia. For ten years, Masankho has worked with Bread & Roses, a nonprofit organization bringing inspiration to adults, youth, and children in Bay Area institutions through music, stories, and dance. In 1999, Masankho received his certificate as a certified InterPlay leader and has since produced and co-led many InterPlay intensive retreats all over the United States and around the World. Masankho continues to teach African dance classes at the Saratoga Community Center and performs with the Wing It Performance Ensemble.
Currently Masankho is on the Board of Directors of Pathways to Peace, an international peace-building organization. He is an Adjunct faculty member at the Sophia Center at Holy Names University in Oakland. In 1997, Masankho founded UCanDanc' African Healing Arts to bring dance and storytelling to communities around the world.