The more you learn about culture and differences, the more
peace you will bring into the world.


Congo Square, New Orleans | Founded 2016 | 20+ Youth Served

Why New Orleans?

For years, Chief Shaka Zulu, has been a LEAF Collaborator, ally and close friend. He has collaborated to help launch LEAF International programs in Haiti and Tanzania, been strong support in connecting local LEAF Schools & Streets youth to the larger black Diaspora experience as expressed in New Orleans, and been a shaker and mover in the revival and honoring of traditional black Diaspora culture in the United States. The culture of New Orleans is geographically part of the United States, yet in heritage, identity, and history, New Orleans is unique and distinct from the larger American cultural experience. Their culture is a dynamic expression of the collision and collaboration between the indigenous people of Louisiana and the first escaped African captives on the American continent. As such, we at LEAF International, and our partner Burial Beer Company assert that this program should be seen as international in its inherent distinction from ‘American culture.’

Program Overview

At LEAF, we recognize and celebrate New Orleans culture as one of the most vibrant living cultures in the world and especially in our country. Over the past 17 years, Shaka & Na’imah Zulu have performed at LEAF Festivals, teaching native traditions with LEAF Schools & Streets residencies. Additionally, they have gone to Tanzania and Haiti to start four LEAF International programs across the globe. This journey comes full circle. We recognize this global cultural treasure in our midst and support Shaka Zulu who is now leading his community in cultural preservation. As Shaka says, “New Orleans is another country and it is critical at this point in history for this rich tradition to be passed forward from the culture keepers to the youth.”

LEAF has witnessed Shaka’s practice of quintessential African folk rituals and his preservation methods of traditional indigenous art forms. It is this tradition that will be taught to program participants, to ensure the longevity of New Orleans culture for upcoming generations.


From music instruments to child sponsorship, our people-centered programs depend on generous givers like you to grow and thrive. Donate today! 100% of your gift goes directly to supporting Global Arts education & preservation!

LEAF is a 501(C)3 charitable organization. Your generous gifts in support of cultural arts education go directly to these programs.

Program Highlights

  • 7 years of partnership w/ Burial Beer Co and beer all for the love of NOLA!🎶 “The Pretty Hunters IPA,” for the champion of the battle, the keepers of the beat, and the feathered dancers of Super Sunday. 
  • Burial Beer Co did it again!!! The 6th annual beer dedicated to New Orleans culture is in stores NOW! Go get you one! The proceeds from this beer help to sustain one of the world’s greatest cultures. Shout-out to Jess for stewarding such an important partnership. Downtown Rulers – Indian Pale Ale
  • In celebration of Mardi Gras and Black History Month, Hancock Whitney installed a Shaka Zulu’s Mardi Gras Indian Suit exhibit as part of their Black History Month diversity learning experience. The suit, called Toucan, stands nine feet tall and features Zulu’s artistry through three-dimensional techniques using turkey quills, chalk beads, seed beads, sequin, and stones.
  • Shaka receives NEA Fellow grant for 25k and highlighted as the feature cover
  • Cultural Exchange and Festival performance  w/  Pisgah Elementary youth
  • Burial Beer Co. released War Paint – the 5th annual beer dedicated to #NOLA culture. This beer is for the prettiest champion of the battle, the masked walkers of the night, the keepers of the beats, and the feathered dancers of Super Sunday. 100% of the profit goes to keep them parading, jamming and sustaining one of our greatest cultures. The beer raised more than $14k in proceeds supporting the Feather Fund.

March: Burial Beer Co. released Tremé, the 4th Burial beer that they’ve dedicated to #NOLA culture. Tremé honors the history of the first & oldest African American neighborhood in the country as well as their black masking traditions.

January: First Cultural Immersion Exhibit installation – Black Masking history: Shaka set the bar high for future LI culture keepers curating this LEAF Global space.

March: Release of Three Dimensional (3-D), the 3rd Burial Beer Company beer dedicated to NOLA culture. 3-D honors the three-dimensional style of the uptown Mardi Gras Indian suits. The release of 3-D included a launch party at the iconic Fish Pot Studios. Check out this report to learn more about what’s happening with LEAF International New Orleans.

Burial Beer Company released the Golden Feather Pale Ale their second Mardi Gras Indian beer dedicated to New Orleans Culture.

Burial Beer Company’s national release of Shallow Water – a beer dedicated to the New Orleans culture. Chief Shaka Zulu has a mission of educating the next generation of leaders and creating resources to assist with giving feathers to the many cultures of New Orleans. The proceeds from Shallow Water will aid in supporting Shaka’s mission.

October LEAF International NOLA Program officially launched!

Burial Beer Co. shares their love of and dedication to helping support, share and preserve the New Orleans traditions by becoming a LEAF International | NOLA funder and supporter. Thank you!

Shaka & Na’imah Zulu help launch LEAF International Haiti

Shaka & Na’imah Zulu travel with a LEAF delegation to Tanzania and helped launch programs in collaboration with Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots programs in Dar Es Salem, Arusha, and Lugufu Refugee Camp

Shaka Zulu begins LEAF Visiting Artist Residencies, impacting 500+ youth in Asheville by connecting them to the New Orleans traditions

Shaka Zulu holds his first performance at LEAF Festival. A relationship begins. 

Chief Shaka is a Black Masking Indian (aka Mardi Gras Indian) who lectures on the rich history and folklore of this Louisiana tradition. He operates the Golden Feather Gallery, which displays this celebrated artistic aesthetic. Additionally, Shaka is co-producer of the touring production, Voices of Congo Square, a vibrant historical narrative of New Orleans magical music, electrifying dance, and mysterious Masking Indian culture. Shaka has been apart of LEAF for more than 20 years spell bounding audiences as a stilt dancer with his colorful and elaborate costumes, tremendous heights, extraordinary acrobatics, and magnificent dance moves. He is also a master of instruments of the African Diaspora i.e., the dundun, djembe, congas, balafon, etc.

Super Sunday, first organized in 1969, is a festival and parade featuring roughly 40 Black Masking Indian nations. The first Super Sunday was held in downtown New Orleans, generally the first Sunday in April. There is also the Uptown Super Sunday usually held the second weekend in March. During the two Super Sunday celebrations Masking Indians from both the Downtown and Uptown tribes come together to celebrate their yearlong ritual of honoring their ancestors and creating their stunning new suits. 



Mayani is a Maasai boy from longido Arusha. He went to boarding school at 6 years old and lost his Maasai language and tradition. Since joining the LEAF program, he has learned to sing Maasai songs, practiced the ‘jump’ tradition and wear Maasai shukas (traditional clothing). Mayani is extremely happy and is currently teaching other youth the culture.