The term Renaissance Man best describes the singer, actor, dancer, published author, illustrator, historian, educator, social/cultural activist, and native San Diegan, Fundi.
Boosted by Herman Salerno’s Opera Workshop Studies in 1977, Fundi began a professional singing career in San Diego as the lead singer in the Forward Motion Band. Three years later a theatrical debut was made performing in Starlight Opera’s production of “Showboat.” This led to starring roles in the Human i Theatre’s “Celebrations! An African Odyssey” and “A Tribute To Fats Waller: Ain’t Misbehavin’,” thus earning him theHuman i’s best developing actor award for the 1980-81 season.
Other classic dramas in which Fundi has played several roles include “Day of Absence,” “Ceremonies in Dark Old Men,” “Moon on a Rainbow Shawl,” and an original piece titled “Night Voices” which led to musical ventures between San Diego and Rhode Island. Fundi’s Bay Area theatrical debut was in the 1992 Jon-Al production of the Broadway hit, “Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope.”
Fundi’s training as an educator began in 1974 at a San Diego based crisis program titled: C.E.B.I.S. (the Committee to Establish Black Independent Systems). Originally hired as the program’s environmental developer Fundi soon found himself in multifaceted positions. Administrative responsibilities included: co-developer of a more expanded Afro sensitive curriculum; extensive investment in staff development training experiences; and co-organizing parent/student home outreach visits. Classroom responsibilities involved teaching primary math, positive self concept, Pan African and general world history, African song and dance, general arts and crafts and the basics of Kiswahili language. This quickly led to Fundi’s co founding of the Ndaba Performance Troupe—generating a five act educational program that toured extensively throughout San Diego’s City and County Schools Districts, and a host of specialty social/cultural workshops which gained national recognition.
In 1987 Fundi co-founded P.O.C.A.S.E. (the People Of Color AIDS Survival Effort), thus spearheading San Diego’s unprecedented response to the disproportionate impact of the disease within African-American communities. Fundi’s compelling crisis “call to action” Ndaba Performance, challenging the locale’s pervasive air of clinical detachment, galvanized a more than enthusiastic response from local health care workers, social activists, political leaders, the general “third world” populace, and of those representing the Lesbian/Gay diversity spectrum. The goal was to collectively set AIDS awareness life saving systems into action by challenging systemic stagnation and personal disconnect. As a crucial beginning it worked!
Such a monumental effort would reflect both Fundi’s 1988 elected post as 1st Vice Chair of the Los Angeles based Black Gay Men’s Coalition for Human Rights and being honored as one of San Diego’s 1990 Lesbian/Gay Pride Grand Marshals—the first African-American male chosen in the legacy of that city’s pride celebration.
Other Bay Area efforts since Fundi’s 1991 arrival include: a little One Man Show “jammin’” to benefit The Shades Project’s fostering of artistic fund-raisers for AIDS services; a venture to use performance and reintroduced cultural heritage as a “healing means” for young special education “students in crisis” at theRise Institute; a portrayal of the singer Sam Cook in a historic musical review titled, “Unforgettable,” benefiting the Black Coalition On AIDS; and providing as Artist In Residence a series of stage performance workshops for The Marin High School Academy, including participation in their 1995 annual spring concert titled, “ROCK/Music of The World.