Eto’o is a a New York City Harlem native Afro-Puerto Rican recording artist, choreographer, dancer, and singer. She is a Summa Cum Laude graduate from Queens College and attended New York University for a Masters of Arts in Dance History. Born to Puerto Rican and African American parents “Eto’o Tsana” earned her name in the African dance scene as one of the best dancers in the Congolese field; being compared to the Great dancer Moseka from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who was a member of the 1980’s Empire Bakuba of Pepe Kalle. Eto’o has travelled all over to share her love of dance with the world and has collaborated, professionally affiliated and credited with renowned artist such as Tshala Muana, Ferre Gola, Papa Wemba, Ngouma Lokito etc.
After visiting Congo for several years, her experiences there inspired her to take her love of dance to a new level. Eto’o sees music and dance as significant platforms of development for both women in the United states and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She shares that it’s not just about dancing and singing but taking it to the next level where she is able to provide service to young entertainers especially young girls and women. “You Help them seek opportunities and ways for them to find sponsorship for their talents. When you have the tools and resources you need to learn to defend yourself. Education does that for you.”
Eto'o ecipient of the African Entertainment Awards 2018 “Best Upcoming Artist”m 2018
On Rebelling Through Dance
I wonder if I wouldn’t have went through the things I went through in Kinshasa and had people tell me that I had to stop dancing because I am a “whore” and the men started coming unto me differently as they would see me dance. People that were respectable in the beginning all of the sudden started changing their demeanors towards me because I chose to dance. I wonder if people would have just acted normal towards me as people do here in the United States would I have settled on just becoming a singer. I am a rebellious type. I don’t want to be told I can’t do something and so when we talk about empowering Congolese women yeah this isn’t just for me. When I win all other female artist win and every Congolese female artist wins. Even if I lose, that experience is an experience that I get to take to other Congolese female artist. So I feel like I am not just doing this for me, I am doing this for the greater good. Sometimes you do things because you have had enough but you don’t even realize how big the impact could be or the vision could be bigger than what you think.
Eto’o is also the founder of Mabina Danseuses, an all female dance group that challenges the perception of women in Afro-rooted dances. Mabina Danseuses focuses on Cultural Performance, Humanitarianism, and Anthropology from a Kongolese perspective and aims to challenge the complexities of ‘Our Being’ as displaced children of the Motherland. This dance company as Eto’o shared does not discriminate on age. Because there is a whole taboo with women and age, she wanted this dance company to be a platform where your age doesn’t matter. "As long as you bring your passion and love for dance, it does not matter if you are married or have children, you are more than welcome to dance with her. It doesn’t matter the age because a woman is a woman and your talent is your talent". You can see her dancers of different backgrounds dancing to afrobeats in her music videos, and together at shows and events.
Eto'o Tsana performs at the Congolese festival in Panchimalco, El Savador
On Building Platforms for Women
You can give a woman a platform but how you give it to her matters. What does she have to do to receive? What does she have to go through that she doesn’t even realize that what she is doing is wrong but she is doing it because it is part of the culture. It is embedded in the system. And it is very deep. I cannot change years years of these systematic ways however if I can open up a platform for somebody. Did I have everything I needed to be the young women I am today? No, I made mistakes, and did things I feel bad for. I have my up and downs. But these are things that create who you are. And I could tell girls to get education but we know in Congo education is not free. So if you don’t have any money, you are not going to school. So you can tell people do this and do that but if they don’t have the understand of it or have the resources they are not going to know what you are talking about. Some are doing the things they are doing to survive so you cannot judge these women. So how do you change all that because you can’t change it overnight but maybe building awareness and providing resources. School is great but if you don’t have a job or some kind of a system it means nothing. That is why I get upset with people here in the states.
Eto’o also shared her frustration for those who live in the US with certain opportunities but don’t take advantage of them. You could be poor in America but school is still free, regardless of where you are, at least from Primary to High School. Eto’o encourages people to take advantage of public assistance if it’s available, take advantage of free programs that can help you take a further step away from your current situation. In Congo, you have girls who can’t go to school because they lack the basic necessities but some of that can be found in America through many programs, so use it. “Don’t be mad at the next person that comes here and do what they have to do. When you come from nothing and you get a little of something, you gotta do what you gotta do.”
On Empowering Women
An empowered women raises strong women. Strong women raise their sons to be strong and respectful. Understand the dynamic is important in understanding what is going on in Congo and in our communities. One of the reasons of why rape is happening Congo is not just because men want to just rape women and babies it is because you destroy the women you destroy the family, you destroy the family you destroy the community. Women are the heart of family and culture and traditions. You see sometimes if you look at two homes, dad could be congolese and mom could be Puerto Rican like I was and more than likely you are going to pick up the ways and traditions of your mom because its your mom that does the holidays and the cooking. Dad is there as the enforcer, or dad is the worker and then comes home. But culture is deeply embedded by moms. Mom is the stronghold of family and that is why these rapes are happening. They are trying to destroy the community, they are trying to divide the people and to do that you destroy the woman. I saw a documentary where women raped in congo their husbands leave them and why do they leave them? Because they are ashamed. Because that rape brought shame to him because he could not protect his family. And what does he do? He leaves his wife and children and then go finds a new wife. Ain’t that some shit? It really speaks volume about the importance of women and building women.
Eto’o is a phenomenal woman who is driven to not only build herself up but those around her. She has recognized the power that comes from music and dance and has pursued to make her impact that way. She uses her platform to promote issues that matter and rebel against inequities she encounters within the Afro entertainment industry that many women face and are left broken from it; But she has chosen to persist, to rebel, not just for herself but for the next sister regardless of their age and situation. The Congolese identity has many faces to it, it is not static, it is fluid, just as are our languages, cultures, and families. It is important for woman like Eto’o to be able to share their story of struggle and successes because the Congo woman comes in all shapes and sizes, complexions and talents and gifts but in the end, the importance is that we exist, and we are proud to represent just as she does anywhere she goes.