Nothing quite kicks away the blues than unexpectedly seeing yourself as the cover girl of a brand new magazine! I had to do a double take when fellow British-Ghanaian journalist, Abena Sɛwaa aka MisBeee, tagged me on the gram premiering her new online magazine… The surprise element of course being I wasn’t aware I’d be on the cover! The hot pink background creating the perfect ‘pop’ for my sun-enriched skin, a creatively wrapped kente turban accessorising the shot, and a genuine look of happiness I haven’t quite perfected since leaving Brazil it was almost unrecognisable to me… I kid you not, every ounce of self-pity left my body at that very moment! I felt a sense of pride that a journey I’d under-taken to overcome a severe depression since losing my mum last year, lead to finding my light at the end of the tunnel…
Much of my blog has been based on my documentation of exploring my ‘Tabom‘ Afro-Brazilian heritage both in Brazil and Ghana. AKADi shares an interview conducted by Abena for her blog, which has been updated for the magazine. And of course the stunning photography by Matheus Len’s in Salvador da Bahia ended up as the magazine cover shot – still one of my favourite photoshoots to date!
I met up with Abena at the recent Africa Fashion Week London, where she was one of the official media partners. I wanted to share, in her own words, why AKADi was created and what we can expect from future issues…
The AKADi Magazine is an extension of my website msbwrites.co.uk which aims to challenge and disrupt stereotypes about what it means to be African. I am interested in people, their experiences and the art of storytelling because through these, we become informed, hopefully inspired and driven to think critically. AKADi was my way of shining a light (because it means light in the Ewe language of Ghana) on ordinary people with extraordinary stories. I started my blog in 2013 to record and share content from the perspective of a British-born person with Ghanaian heritage.
For many of us, growing up with this dual or multiple identities, often means we are searching to belong. I was….. and I didn’t. AKADi aims to bring those two worlds together by connecting the experiences of those children of Ghanaian migrants living in the West, to those in Ghana that never left. We should know that Ghana has a strong ancestral connection to the Afro-Brazilian Tabom people through descendants like Kai Lutterodt. We equally need to know that there are people like writer/director Pamela Sakyi who are championing the fight to curb language endangerment within our communities. And we must challenge stereotypes. Adventure sports are not just what Europeans do. Ghanaians like Jonathan Quaye – Ghana’s only certified paragliding pilot – are helping to change that mindset.
In terms of the challenges, there have not been many so far. I’ve actually been heartened by the support people I connected with years ago have given me. Where I have had challenges, such as with the technical part of putting a magazine together, I have been able to find support from friends and networks that have shared my vision. You can see it for yourself with the fantastic work of the designer!
The next issue of AKADi comes out this winter and includes Jonathan’s story. You can also read about a British-Ghanaian inventor who is revolutionising how we communicate in this global society. He has developed a device that can translate your speech from one language to another in real time. I am always learning more about my heritage through these stories and also about how dynamic, resourceful and creative people are. My desire is that these stories speak to others – no matter where you are from – because at the core, we are all human.
*Art work designed by Elisia Brown @elisia.jpeg. Special thanks to Abena Sɛwaa and team.
As always – I’d love to know your thoughts! Share them in the comment box below x
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