On June 1, 2023, at age 76, Titos Sompa became artistic director of the Congo Kids drumming school — a project of the Positive Vibrations Foundation.
Sompa grew up in the Congo and, over his lifetime he’s witnessed his share of strife. But he is also a witness to how transformative music and dance can be — how they can bring people together.
In his early 20s Sompa moved to Paris where he started an African dance class. Eventually he moved to the United States — Chicago, then New York and then Santa Cruz. Eventually he found Congo Square in New Orleans and made the Crescent City his home.
They call him Papa Titos now.
He is driven to teach kids about community. About respect. In a world filled with divisiveness, Papa Titos sees unity and togetherness. But he’s not just a witness to it. He brings it. He shows it. He shares it. And he teaches it. He emanates positivity and an undeniable sense of joy.
To paraphrase an African proverb, Papa Titos is a library filled with wisdom gained over a lifetime of experience. When you see the way he interacts with kids, you can’t help but have hope for the future.
“The foundation,” he says, “is to teach the kids for them to see better. If we learn how to come together, that’s a good message for the world.” Working toward that goal is what makes Papa Titos Sompa a Peoples Health Champion.