SPECIAL GHANA ISSUE
YAV MAGAZINE VOL. 2 ISSUE FIVE CELEBRATING AFRICAN WOMEN
DARK IS LOVELY
VISIONARY OF THE MONTH:
MABEL OBINIM AND MAAME OWUSU-AFRIYIE
NEW ONLINE PROJECT FOR CREATIVES THE ART COMMUNITY LAUNCH
THE DREAM CATCHER OZIOMA’S PROJECT
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A BEAUTIFUL GIRL BEHIND LENS OF THE FILM “ASA”
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
JAMILA MAYANJA WWW.YAVMAGAZINE.COM
Letter From Editor Celebrating the Young African Women-Africaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Richest Resource
Young Africa We Salute You, In this issue of YAV Magazine we celebrate young African women who dare to dream what some may consider the impossible. Whether these young woman are using their talents to empower others, or just achieving thier personal goals, we are sharing their stories with our readers and hoping to inspire a new generation of young Africans both female and male. We also spent five months in Ghana making and developing this issue and have stories from young Ghanaians doing great things and exploring their passions. Thank you for taking this journey with us and celebrating our fifth issue and the new year! Rebekah A. Frimpong Editor-in-Chief /Publisher YAV Magazine-BGNB Productions
Visit YAV Magazine www.yavmagazine.com Follow Us on Twitter @YoungAfricanVis
CONTRIBUTORS Gilbert Frank Daniels Photography/Writer
Isaac Koduah Photography
Special Contributors Stylists & Photographers C E LEBR ATI N G AF RI C AN WO M E N Issue five of YAV Magazine: Celebrating African Women will feature stories of some of the most exciting and enterprising young African women working in African communities worldwide. These young African women are tackling major issues in their communities from areas of self esteem, healthcare, education, and more. As we connect to the next generation of African visionaries it is important to celebrate the young African women who will be spear-heading the next wave of great vsionaries out of Africa.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS Inside This Issue: OZIOMA’S PROJECT JAMILA MAYANJA’S STORY MIRACLE’S REIGN BOLD WOMAN AGNES NTOW DARK IS LOVELY GHANA ARTS SPECIAL
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Adoma Adae Akua Aye is our Visionary of the Month, seen here with featured visionaries Mabel Obinim and Maame Owusu-Afriyie. Photo take by Isaac Koduah.
REMEMBERING NELSON “MADIBA” MANDELA We celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela (Madiba) who was a great hero for Africa and an aspiration to many around the world. Heroes are often not perfect but a heroes are those people who have the courage to stand up for what they believe in and move to seek to find better ways to empower those around them . Mandela left behind a legacy of a true example of a visionary and that is why we YAV Magazine dedicate this issue for him for his work and tireless efforts to bring justice and equality to South Africa. Mandela influenced many youth today to be proud and to always strive for just means.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela 1918-2013
Many viewed Nelson Mandela’s death as the end of an era of African democratic reasoning in South Africa and maybe even the continent. Mandela’s impact on human rights and civil liberties was felt around the world. His struggle became the struggle of many who were not even in South Africa during apartheid but could identify with Mandela’s story of courage and conviction to fight a corrupt system. Africa as a continent has undergone so much social change and unrest in the past 100 years, and the story of Mandela is very similar to other African leaders or visionaries who have fought to bring about social order and justice in their countries. Nelson Mandela’s story is so powerful because he was a young man when he begin to campaign against apartheid in South Africa and later in his life he inspired youth worldwide to start looking at social justice on a larger scale. After he was freed from 27years in prison; Mandela’s legacy was fighting for what is just or wanting to encourage an African political mindset towards equality. This legacy Africa is still trying to grasp.
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CVJMEJOH B HMPCBM CSBOE
YAV Magazine Scholarship Initiative YAV Magazine will have a special scholarship initiative that will be available to three promising young African visionaries! We will be rewarding youth in these three fields of leadership: -Environmental -Social Awareness -Health and Science Here is How to Apply: Visit www.yavmagazine.com and submit an essay describing in detail your story and what makes you a visionary. All rules and guidelines are on the website and the winners will be announced later this year and get featured in an issue of YAV Magazine. For more information email yavmagazine@gmail. com to learn about the YAV Scholarship.
Interview By YAV Staff and Photos Courtesy of Ozioma Egwuonwu
Ozioma Egwuonwu wants to help people realize their dreams. She has created a network in which she is able to help others realize their dreams and goals and make them a reality. She shares more with YAV Magazine.
“I believe that greatness is the overall aim and objective for why we do the majority of things we do in life.”
What inspires you to greatness? I am inspired by “great need.” I find that no matter where my journey has led me my greatest moment came during a time when there was a problem that needed to be solved, or an issue that needed to be addressed and I was willing to “take it on.” I believe that greatness is the overall aim and objective for why we do the majority of things we do in life. Greatness is a possibility that is available to all of us no matter where we were born or how much money we have in our pockets. There have been both poor and rich women and men who have achieved greatness and there have been many who decided that “good enough” was enough for them. In most areas of my life, good enough just isn’t enough for me. My mother just didn’t raise me that way . What advice would you give to those out there wanting to start to pursue their dreams at a late age? Is it ever too late to do what you love? It is never too late to pursue your dreams. Some of the greatest works of art were created by people who were considered “past their prime.” The truth of the matter is that only YOU can decide if you have peaked, or if you are willing to investigate new opportunities. Dreams to me are nothing more than invitations to possible realities and after we have fallen in love with a particular dream, it’s up to us to choose wisely whether or not we want to “run with them”. For those who believe they are too old, I say keep moving. As long as there is breath in your body, the game of life is still on. Realized dreams become the fabric of our reality, and if we don’t make them happen, the world doesn’t benefit
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from the evolution we can cause within it. You are very active in mentoring and pushing others towards their goals, who were some of your mentors or role models that you feel shaped your perspective? Yes, I am quite active as a coach in arena of Personal Development and Business/ Brand Strategy. I have had some powerful mentors and role models, whether they were aware of it or not. I would say that my mentor in grad school, Jeanine Grinage’s words still have a last affect on me. She said to me “Ozioma, never limit yourself. The world will always try to limit you, but never place limits on yourself”. I took that within myself as directive to go as high and as far as I could go. As a result, a great deal of my life’s work is dedicated to empowering individuals, businesses and communities to push beyond their usual boundaries and experience their innate excellence. My mother was also a HUGE influence on me. She transitioned in 2010, but till this day, I thank the heavens that I was born to her. She guided me to become a goddess of sorts, always seeing myself as filled with great capacities. Her greatest gift to me was her wisdom. She was my personal guru of sorts. She said “When one door open step in and look around. If you don’t like what you see, step right back out.” Those words have guided me to be more willing to experiment in life, always knowing that I possess the power to walk away. What projects do you have coming up in the future and where can we find out more about your work? The main project that I am shepherding aside from touring across America and evolving my inspirational products and services is a global holiday I invented in
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2012 called the International Day for Dreamers aka World Dream Day. DreamDay is a global celebration of turning thoughts into action. It’s pretty easy to participate and you can do so from anywhere in the world: On August 24th, take one dream and commit to at least one action that you are willing to take to make that dream become a reality. By moving our dreams forward we affect change in the world and THAT is how we begin to “be the change we want to see in the world”. The continent of Africa is filled with dreamers of all sorts. Last year, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa participated. This year, we want as many countries from around the world celebrating DreamDay as much as possible. During DreamDay2013, we will share resources and tools, as well as connect dreamers with a global network of individuals that will help them move their dreams forward. Every major shift that existed on this planet came from a dream. Every new creation was called forth by a desire for it to exist. I believe that the only way we will ever experience the best this world has to offer is when we the people are doing our best to achieve our aspirations. My goal is to turn the Dreamers of the world into DreamRunners: Individuals, businesses and communities passionately moving forward with their dreams, while positively affecting the world as they do it. I am really excited about it and hope anyone reading this will join me and the world as we unleash a wave of possibility! Run with me at www.dayfordreamers.com Like Us at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DayForDreamers Follow us on twitter: @dayfordreamers We want to hear your dreams.
MIRACLEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S REIGN CARRYING A TITLE FOR WOMEN &AFRICA
Written By YAV Staff and Photos Courtesy of Miracle Edison
Miracle Edison is the former Miss Africa Texas and Miss Cameroon USA who has continued to campaign for her community initiatives even when not wearing her crown. Miracle studied pharmacy and still finds time to bring about awareness around breast ironging and other issues that affect African women. She currently is working on a new TV Show and shared with YAV Magazine more about her work and aspirations.
“I wanted to provide a show that engaged the Africans in America because many programs and networks don’t.”
You are doing exciting things as Miss Africa Texas, can you tell us briefly about your new TV show and what inspired you to start the show? My new TV show is called Millennium Broadcasting Channel (MBC) voice. I wanted to start a show that was geared to the community. It provides news, entertainment and information on new trends and things to enlighten the public I also interview all kinds of people as well as many nurses, doctors, and physicians as to encourage young people who are fixated in such paths. We have had a chance to go globally by interviewing the governor of Owerri, and United Nation Ambassadors. I was inspired to start the show because many times people are not aware of the things that are happening in the world around them and I wanted to provide a show that engaged the Africans in America because many programs and networks don’t. Because of this lack of African entertainment on networks, I wanted to provide an outlet to get information out and get people involved in the community. What have been some of the challenges you have faced in pursuing your career and what motivates you to keep going?
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When I started the TV show it was a bit difficult because there was not many guidelines to follow and or show to help lay out a path because it is actually the first Nigerian channel in the United States. Juggling the show, school, and the projects I am involved in as Miss Africa Texas has been a bit tough, and focusing on time management has been somewhat of a struggle, but I have a great support system behind me cheering me on. My mother, family, church and friends have been very encouraging and supportive and have given me the courage to continue moving forward in the process of making my goals a success and my dreams reality. You are an activist against the issue of breast ironing, can you tell us about why you feel this such an important issue? I chose to be an activist for breast ironing because of the
physical and psychological toll it takes on young girls in Cameroon every day. Such a practice can cause breast cancer which is a sensitive issue in itself. Breast ironing effects girls from 8-12 and these girls are so young and have to rely on their parents, the same parents who are inflicting the pain. Breast ironing is due to lack of sex education, if these girls and parents were educated on safe sex their fears wouldn’t lead to such extreme measures. The percent of breast cancer in Cameroon is rising and people are not speaking up on the topic, and what makes me so passionate, ready to speak up is to save innocent girls who aren’t given the chance to live freely. What projects do you have coming up in the future and where can we find out more about your work? Currently I am working with the African Woman Cancer Organization. This organization consists of nurses, physicians and doctors, who all aid in the fight against breast cancer. They have been around to African countries and they take mammogram machines and other devices and will be headed to Cameroon this summer to provide awareness and prevention. Information can be found about this organization on my Facebook page Miracle Edison. As a junior ambassador I work with the homeless at the Bread of Life Homeless Center where we provide clothes and supplies for those in need. My own organization, The Fight against Breast Ironing is also something I am very devoted to. Within all these projects, I am trying to educate those who may need guidance, help those who are in need, and speak for those who don’t have a voice.
Room Service Rising Star Agnes Ntow
talks with YAV Magazine about being the new host of the popular radio show in Ghana, West Africa called “Room Service” for Y 107.9 FM. Agnes Ntow is also an entertainment reporter for “This Morning” for Viasat 1. Agnes Ntow shares with YAV Magazine more about her goals and inspirations. Can you tell us about your new Radio show in Ghana with Y 107.9 FM “Room Service”? Room Service is a show dedicated to exploring love, relationships, and intimacy. It gives those in the younger age demographic a platform to openly discuss these topics and possibly receive advice if needed. This show was hosted by Caroline Sampson and now is being hosted by me. Who were and are some of the female role models that have inspired you to go into the field of media and communications?
Oprah, I’m a native of Chicago!!!! The Oprah Winfrey show began in 1985, and I was born a few years after and I can remember watching her talk-show each morning at 9am. Even if I didn’t watch her show on a particular day, it was such a hit that the topics from her show were discussed by anyone you encountered. During her last season in 2010, my lovely friend and lil sister, Change Kwesele, invited me to join her to a studio taping of the Oprah Winfrey Show. That invitation felt like receiving a Christmas and birthday gift in October. Can you believe we sat in the third row, and I was in between Oprah and Tyler Perry? I felt like our eyes locked, literally! Attending that studio taping and knowing her story reinspired me and has kept me inspired and energized since. Anything is possible if you just have faith and work hard towards what you want. What do you feel is the most important issue facing African women today and why? There are a lot of issues facing Africans as a whole, but when it comes to the African women I feel like there are two important issues we face. The first is our lack of solidarity, women uniting and standing up for each other, and the second is our society doesn’t allow or appreciate our voices, in turn resulting in a lack of respect for women. As African women, many of us tear each other down instead of uplifting ourselves. Moving to Ghana has allowed me to experience these situations first hand. What is next for you? What’s next for me??? Only God knows and I trust whatever he has in store for me.
PASSIONATE COMMUNITY ACTIVIST
A YOUNG AFRICAN WOMANâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S VISION FOR UGANDA Closer Look at the Work of Jamila Mayanja Written and Photographed By Gilbert Frank Daniels
Jamila Mayanja is a very fun and down to earth person, with a number of friends, a person who wants to be involved in everything that can bring value to her life and young people around her.
A YOUNG AFRICAN WOMANâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S VISION FOR UGANDA Who is Jamila Mayanja
Jamila Mayanja is the Founder and the General Secretary of Haven Anti AIDS Foundation, an organization that is empowering children and youth to alleviate poverty, illiteracy and fight against HIV/AIDS through the use of their talents to realize their potential and discover their worth. Currently, Mayanja is also a team leader of marketing at SMS One(U)LTD a corporate technological company, a board member of the Green Light Movement, and team member of many other youth based organizations such as Yo Home(U)Ltd, Toony Town Cinema, and Ummah National Community. Jamila Mayanja in addition is a Generation Change member of the Uganda chapter of an interfaith joint organization dedicated to young leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators for the purpose of sharing new ideas and information, networking, and celebrating a new generation of change-makers in Uganda. She answered a few questions for YAV Magazine and elaborates on her passion and work in Uganda.
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What is your passion and how have you used it to affect your community? My passion is mobilizing, I love bringing young people together and putting a smile on many peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s faces, and with my passion. I have partnered with several organizations and founded a few organizations to carry out a lot of community charity activities that have uplifted lives of many youth especially in my work to sensitize them on issues of HIV/AIDS.
Can you share with YAV Magazine the challenges you faced as a female marketer for a big company like SMS One? I’ve faced very many challenges as a female marketer. Am mostly undermined by men who are in the same position who don’t believe a woman can beat them at their game and that has been a big stress factor because we have to fight harder to prove ourselves, facing sexual harassments when I am going on with my day to day activities could go on and on but never the less, I try my level best to overcome these challenges. What are some of the things that ignite the fire in you to pursue your passion/dream? I have always wanted to provide for myself ever since I was young, this has been my fire to chase my dream and when I lost my father, and of course I love helping and making people happy; it makes me feel like a king. Why did you choose to create an organization that talks about HIV/AIDS out of all the challenges youth in Uganda go through? Many of my youth have friends who suffered because of HIV/AIDS, I personally had very many older relatives that had died from the same sad fate, so I thought and knew if they all had HIV/AIDS information before they messed up they could still be alive right now, that’s how me and my friends decided to start up this organization (Haven Anti AIDS Foundation). YAV MAGAZINE JANUARY/FEB. 2014
How has your work as a female activist changed your life? The very many networks I have made as a female activist has changed my life, I have met several amazing people who have believed in me and are now very important in my life.
What are some of the achievements you’ve arrived at as female young African entrepreneur and as HIV/AIDS female activist? The networks I have made a few profits as young female adult in corporate world, being chosen by the US Mission as a generation change member for Uganda is such an achievement too that has enable me to reach new horizons, and the achievement of making so many youth smile and being their cause to bring about change in their lives. Uganda is a country in the world where more than 70% of the general population is comprised of young people, what advise could you can give to the youth in Uganda who are frustrated with rampant unemployment in the country? The most important thing for youth in Uganda should be to learn to believe in themselves and learn to work together to develop themselves. You can make more money as a team and since the percentage is overwhelming it is more important that they work together to form small entrepreneurial groups and with time this problem will be history. What are some of your near future prospects we should look out for? I have so many dreams, I think am always dreaming. I want to start an educational cartoon film project that will help to teach little ones issues about their health. I want to venture into agriculture as well to remind my fellow youth that practicing agriculture is not only for illiterate youth but an untapped resource that can easily turn youth’s lives for the best. Of course I want a family, to travel more, become a photographer like you (hahaha), future is big Insha Allah (God Willing). What is the message you would like to give to young African female young adults out there who would like to create change in their community but don’t know how? Let them look inside themselves and use what they love to do to create change, if you love to bake use that to create change ,if you love playing with kids use that to create change; create a charity activity through that and bring a smile on everybody’s face. It takes what you believe to create the change you want.
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RECAP OF THE I LUV AFRICA FILM FESTIVAL IN GHANA ILAFF 2013 YAV Magazine presented with RWUL and the Goethe-Institut in Ghana, West Africa the 1st Annual I Luv Africa Film Festival (ILAFF 2013). Here are some highlights from ILAFF 2013 and look for the 2nd Annual ILAFF 2014 later this year! Visit www.rwul. com for more information.
Behind the Lens of THE FILM “ASA”
Insight Behind the Film ASA-A Beautiful Girl, An Interview with Filmmaker A.N. Sela Interview By Rebekah Frimpong and Photos Courtesy of Sela Films
You just premiered your short “ASA” in New York, how was that experience? It was an incredible experience. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but by the time the doors opened, I knew it was going to be glorious. We had an audience of 125 people, minus the crew and dancers, just audience members. That was amazing to me. The reception was very well received; we had a ton of food and drinks! I wanted to be really prepared. People mingled with each other. It was just a warm and inviting crowd, a very nice vibe. Then we all settled in for the event and it was amazing. The dance performance was great; people really reacted to the film, and shared openly during the Q & A. It was all in all, just grand. I couldn’t have asked for more. Why do you feel that stories like “ASA” need to be told on screen? What do you hope your audience will get from the film? I feel stories like ASA need to be told on film because it allows those who view it to glimpse an individual’s struggle on a one on one basis. Plus, I’ve always had this feeling that being “African” is this thing that’s intangible to the rest of the world. It’s as if we are not really considered human. I can’t put it to words really; it’s just a vibe I get when interacting with people or simply watching people. I people watch a lot. Africans have feelings. Though it seems a luxury we are not permitted to have. Africans come from multiple parts of “Africa” the continent, not a single state; and each region has its culture, belief systems, traditions, etc, both good and bad. Where you really glimpse it and the influence of “outer” worlds, is when you look at the individual. I hope this makes sense. It isn’t my intention to paint a negative picture of a part of the world that’s tagged “the dark continent.” A place that already has everything negative linked with it; or a people that are struggling to be taken seriously and portrayed differently in the media. My intention is to shed light, air out what’s “not be aired out” and ask “is this ok?” Regardless of race, class, gender, culture, Asa just happens to be Nigerian; she could be anyone from anywhere. Now, if your answer to that question is yes, then go about your business as usual. If it’s no, please pay attention and if you can, do something about it. Most likely, all you can do is acknowledge it, and that’s a big YAV MAGAZINE JANUARY/FEB. 2014
step. Keeping people quiet is not helping anyone. It’s destructive on so many levels. It’s oppressive, and we all know what oppression does to a person, to a people, to a nation, to a continent, and so on and so on. I am also not trying to say my biological parents are bad people. I don’t believe this at all. I do however feel that that doesn’t take away from the weight of what happened, and should not guilt me or anyone who’s had similar or worse experiences into being quiet. Speaking out, speaking up, is about you. My hope is that when people watch ASA, they see that not everyone which such experiences is a statistic, and that though you are shaped by your past, you can definitely choose what shape that is. Heck, you can choose the color too if you like! Be as big and as bright as your heart desires! With a little help, that’s the tricky part. No one is an island, no matter how much our egos may want us to believe we are. There’s only so much you can do alone. You can go “through” hell. You don’t have to live there. Can you share with us briefly some challenges you faced making “ASA” and how you were able to solve them? Wow, where do I begin? First, the writing - ASA is a bit of an epic tale (and I say that with humility). In 13:25 minutes we packed in so much information and emotion. That’s tough to do. We had a cast of 18 people and each one of them played a specific role. There were no extras on set. Then came the casting and finding the crew with the budget I had. That was tough. Especially since I was looking at a professional team and this is my first film. People didn’t know me well enough to decide whether or not to trust me. It was comical at times though, but it all fell into place. I got so lucky. It’s amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better crew or more amazing cast. Then the fundraising; that was really tough, and we didn’t succeed with our Kickstarter fundraising campaign, which was not only a blow to my confidence level, it created doubt in other areas too. But it was a good learning experience because I could have done better with my presentation and marketing perhaps. There was one experience I recall with my co-director. This was before the fundraising. We already had $10,000 pledge from my adopted dad, David Silverberg, and $5,000 from me, so we had something to start with. Our budget was $25,000 for
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the film - From start to Premiere and onto Festival submissions; and we stayed within the budget, which is amazing! I worked my tail off (my day job) to raise the remainder of the funds and everyone chipped in to help. My dad bought hard drives and food, and other things. We used his car, his studio, and his house for one of the scenes. My co-director, Michel Chahade, got us his family home for the main set, helped with rehearsal space on occasion, and helped wherever he could, with whatever he could help with. Anyway, we were looking for a Director of Photography and striking out, and it made my co-director question if the script was good enough, since no one seemed to want to work on it. He had met with another director who bashed the script. That was very tough for me because I felt he was the last person I needed to doubt my abilities, but it turned out to be a great thing, because I sent the script out to a few filmmakers I know that I hadnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t previously sent it to, and got amazing feedback from them. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m by no means saying the script was perfect. It has its flaws and then some. But the fact that they praised the script, gave me constructive input, and was 100% behind going ahead with filming, gave me the confidence to keep going. My co-director found the DP we ended up working with, via a referral from a friend of his, and it was a great fit. Funny thing is during editing the editor and I worked closely on the film with input from another filmmaker friend of mine we ended up rearranging a lot of the scenes, especially when we decided to go shorter. The film was originally supposed to be 20 minutes long. There were so many other challenges. With dealing with personality conflicts on set, staying on schedule, the works! I think how I mostly got through them was realizing that this was part of the process and by just letting things run their course.
What projects do you have coming up in the future and where can we find out more about your work? Well, my main priority is making the feature length version of ASA. It is gong to be a huge undertaking, so keep your fingers crossed for me. I am also working on two other pieces. One I have began writing; it’s another short film, fiction but based on a scene I witness on the metro that I found intriguing. The next one, I haven’t began putting to paper yet. It’s a romantic comedy. Again, a fictional piece based on actual events. I guess that’s a theme or a trend with me. I mean where else can you get good material, if not from real life? You may find more of my work on the production company site www.selafilms.com or by subscribing to our newsletter by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You could also LIKE us on Facebook (Sela Films) and get out news feeds from there.
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Over the summer of 2013 in Ghana, YAV Magazine got to interview the talented and innovative artist Michael Sowiah. Michael Sowiah is helping start a brand new technology based initiative for the arts called the Art Community which he and three other Ghanaians created. This innovative interactive online forum for artists will open up the idea of international curating via the internet. Read more about how Michaelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s vision help start the Art Community.
Michael Tawiah Sowah Launching the Art Community YAV MAGAZINE JANUARY/FEB. 2014
Interview and Photography By Rebekah Frimpong
Can you tell us your background? I am a trained painter with my BFA in Painting and my first job as an assistant curator I began to learn about web development so I looked at my knowledge of the web and saw how it could be useful in my field as a curator. Which was actually another inspiration for forming the project and for me, I see the project (the Art Community) as an artwork than I am still creating. It is just that this artwork opens up to people to also contribute to the project and expand it so for being a web developer has opened up to me an opportunity where I can explore my art as a curator as well. I was always looking for space to exhibit and show young upcoming artists and I began to explore other spaces other than the established institutions here in Ghana. As a web developer the internet became an optimal space to exhibit work. What inspired you to start the Art Community and how does it work? I actually wanted to create a system where by artists could try to engage critically about what they are doing but then also engage with other artists around the world. Since noting the couple of times where I have noticed artists working on the similar projects but were in different countries and did not know of each other. It is difficult for us artists to know or it is for us to think we are inventing new things or that have not been done before. But with the system (the Art Community) people get to interact and get to know what actually they doing and they can share ideas on projects and can share research information or resources about what they have. They also can collaborate on projects from the site. Another thing I wanted to do was create a resource for artists to create and archive for creative peers and art projects that are going on all over the world so that people and more so students could just go on our site and research about these projects. They could also get information that can be useful for whatever they are doing
so that information is build by members of the community and their interactions and data they upload on the system. I realized most of the available to artists right now from the major social networks to the more specific art communities there was not any critical engagement or interaction going on. I also realized local artists felt like they were producing interventions but then when I traveled out for a couple of weeks I realized â&#x20AC;&#x153;noâ&#x20AC;? they are doing similar things all over the world. They are facing similar challenges so how about critically engaging artists about
how to go around these problems and how to resolve them and what resources they have where they could see how related references in other artistsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; works. When will the Art Community be launched? We officially launched in July 2013, but before the then we were doing the preliminary stage where by we where we gave everyone that signed up an option to go direct into the system before we went live, so that we may give them feedback. They could move around the entire system, create profiles, and upload whatever work they are doing. They could do all this before the official launch on July 1, 2013. How can people get involved with the Art Community? People can get involved in many ways. There are four people on our team right now; the project is independently funded by our team of four. But we are working on a smooth run of the projectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s systems and people can attach to the project and plug into the system where they want to. We are looking to at the system where we can have lawyers engage with artists. The system will become a pool of information where businessman, lawyers, or developers can start to connect with creators. We see this data to be more useful than getting it from a book, the Art Community provides more options to connect artists to information they can use. Log onto the Art Community at: www.artcommunity.org To learn more and get connected.
Photography By Rebekah Frimpong BGNB PRODUCTIONS (C) 2014
Waiting for Love
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YAV MAGAZINE JANUARY/FEB. 2014
Waiting for Love Photography Assistants Ralph Humble Ashirfie & Charles Nortey Stylist Afua Asona & Netty Anang --Vintage GH Models Anita Anang Emmanuel Annang Rhodaline Parlon
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VISIONARY OF THE MONTH
ADOMA AYE Written By YAV Staff and Photography By Isaac Koduah
doma Adae Akua Aye founded Dark IS Lovely, an organization geared towards empowering women of African descent in the America by focusing on issues that affect them and holding events to connect these women with each other. YAV Magazine interviewed Adoma Adae Akua Aye and her member Mabel Obinim and Maame Owusu-Afriyie about how the organization got start and what motivates them to do the work they do to help empower African women.
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Can you tell us briefly how you formed Dark IS Lovely? I was inspired to start this movement after my first visit to Ghana in 2007. There I met groups of women who had bleached their skin. I had heard of individuals doing such a thing but never had the opportunity to meet someone who had actually done it. I didn’t understand why one would bleach to become lighter in color and to cause physical harm to their skin. They simply explained to me that being dark wasn’t pretty. It hurt my heart to hear them say this so when I returned from my trip, I did some research and found out that many women in different cultures (Hispanic, Indian, Caribbean, and Asian) bleach their skin as well. It was my goal to have this platform that allows women to embrace themselves how they are so I reached out to other like minded women who were willing to support the cause and help promote. I strongly believe that being Dark IS Lovely. Why do you think this issue of “skin color” is still such a problem within African communities and what solutions could make things better? I believe that our African culture is highly influenced by the European/American culture. While living in Africa, many see these different women on TV, in magazines or see women that travel from abroad which I believe causes the women to desire YAV MAGAZINE JANUARY/FEB. 2014
the look that they see. The media portrays beauty in one way, whiles beauty should be defined in many ways. If one doesn’t have adequate self esteem nor embrace how they look; insecurities will easily overcome their mind causing them to believe that they should aspire to become someone that they are not. It’s important that individuals learn how to love themselves at an early age because loving and embracing who you are isn’t something that can be taught. How do you think African women can work together to bring about change in their communities? Can you all share briefly some of the work you all do professionally or on a volunteer basis to better your community in particular issues that affect women? I think it’s important to surround yourself with positive women so it would be very helpful for African women to come together and support each other, embrace each others’ talents and beauty by participating in lots of self empowered or women inspired events that promote self-confidence, beauty, and self motivation. I tend to host many women’s inspired workshops and Dark Is Lovely has a mentoring program where we are able to reach out to others on a personal level. You recently hosted an event in the Washington DC metro area and had a panel entitled “I am a Ghanaian woman and I am not a Nurse” can you tell us more about that panel and how the event went? Absolutely! Well I grew up with a family filled with Nurses so when it was time for me to attend college, and I chose not to study nursing, the biggest question from others was: how will I be able to pay my bills and how will I get a good job. I believe that our culture considers Nursing to be the best field to be in and that it is one of the few jobs that pay a lot of money. It’s true that Nurses make good income but it’s not for everyone so I strongly believe that it is essential to get into the field that you truly desire to be in. I was privileged to meet amazing Ghanaian American women in different career fields within the past years. So being that March was Women’s History Month and our groups two year anniversary, it was a great opportunity to bring them together to discuss what they do and why they choose to be in that field. My goal was to have an open discussion that would inspire young ladies to follow their dreams. The event was very successful and I am very thankful that the women who sat on the panel agreed to participate. What projects will you all be working on in the future? What is next for you? Dark IS Lovely is working on our upcoming Father and Daughter dinner which should take place in June. We would like to partner with local mentoring groups to bring awareness to the cause this summer. We also hope to travel to different cities with some of our main workshops and programs. YAV MAGAZINE JANUARY/FEB. 2014
Maame Afriyie Can you tell us what interested you in being apart of Dark IS Lovely? I have worked with Adoma in the past on a radio show and simply loved this cause. I thought her organization was a brilliant idea to mentor young ladies and instill acceptance and confidence. Such causes are so dear to my heart and being asked to be a part was a no brainer. I have always supported visionary causes and this was a great way to give back. It’s so heartwarming to support young visionary leaders as Adoma. Why do you think this issue of “skin color” is still such a problem within African communities and what solutions could make things better? I think that it’s sad that we are still taking about “skin color” in the 21st century. It’s amazing to experience the many compliments dark skinned individuals like myself receive from people from other races... yet it’s hard for our beautiful “skin” to be appreciated by our own. The problem as I see it is lack of education. Perhaps self esteem also might play
a part in the “skin” issue. A better understanding of oneself and pride of one’s heritage can help make things a little better. Additionally, knowing the health concerns associated with skin bleaching can help address/eradicate this. It will be a great day when I go to a social event and not see one “bleached” individual! How do you think African women can work together to bring about change in their communities? Can you all share briefly some of the work you all do professionally or on a volunteer basis to better your community in particular issues that affect women? The first thing that comes to mind is support. That is such an important aspect of encouraging change in our communities. Ever so often the lack of support of our own businesses and loving and lifting each other up can bring about failure. In holding and building each other up, we are investing and sowing into greatness, fulfillment and success. I also think networking is key. I have, in the past few years met some phenomenal women (Adoma & Mabel included) in the African community doing amazing things - all through networking. It’s also great to be around greatness. It serves as an accountability tool for me and keeps me disciplines and keeps me on the up and up. Like Oprah nicely puts it “surround yourself with people who are going to take you higher”. Recently, I have lost a substantial amount of weight and my quest to maintain optimum health has decided to reach out and touch a few people every day to share the importance to keeping and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You recently hosted an event in the Washington DC metro area and had a panel entitled “I am a Ghanaian woman and not a nurse” can you tell us more about that panel and how the event went? I tell you, this was such a phenomenal event and I’m so honored to have been a part. It was a beautiful site to see a great number of young professional African business owners and entrepreneurs. I talked about my journey as a young marketing and advertising professional in corporate America dominated by none of my kind. I was lucky in that none of my parents forced me into one career path or the other. They just stressed the importance of education and were and are still extremely supportive of my career choice. It was great to share my trials in this field but most importantly my highs. My goal was to encourage a young African girl to reach for the stars and not let anything hold them back and that nursing while it is a great career isn’t the only way to success and career fulfillment. I expressed how important it is to do what one loves as that alone is fulfilling. I talked about how important it is to stay the course and keep moving forward when trials and tribulations come. They are par for the course and it’s important to keep moving forward. What projects will you all be working on in the future? What is next for you? I recently started a home based business and working with some amazing individuals that I call “my mastermind group” to get things off the ground.
Mabel Obinim Can you tell us what interested you in being apart of Dark IS Lovely? I was interested in working alongside who share similar interest and visions as I do. There is nothing more empowering than helping out the women who are goal-oriented and focused as you. For someone like Adoma, it’s the best I can do by supporting her and her organization’s vision. I think of what kind of young black, African girl I was and wish that I had a mentor or a ‘big-sister’ to look up to and by being a part of Dark IS Lovely, I can do that for another young girl. Why do you think this issue of “skin color” is still such a problem within African communities and what solutions could make things better? “Skin color” is a prevalent issue that surpasses our understanding of where it stems from. I feel that it is a present issue because Africans have yet to come to the point of true self-appreciation and self-love that is needed to embrace their “skin”. I tend to have an issue with it all because it’s quite absurd that this is still an issue today but I feel that the best solution to combat this kind of self-hate is educating and simply, growing up. From discussion, I know young girls who struggled with skin color acceptance for years but the only way they came out of it was with time and the right amount of self-reflection. How do you think African women can work together to bring about change in their communities? Can you all share briefly some of the work you all do professionally or on a volunteer basis to better your community in particular issues that affect women? I think African women can continue to reach out to each other through networking and good-ol’ fashion respect. I think it is important to respect each other’s craft and find ways to build one another up whether it is by financial support, solid references, or offering a word of kindness. I don’t do much volunteer work these days but I do support young women in my church through mentorship; I try to reach out to small businesses that I know from African women first; I take pride in knowing a lot African women and
their career fields and seek to refer other friends to connect with them on a need-be basis. You recently hosted an event in the Washington DC metro area and had a panel entitled “I am a Ghanaian woman and I am not a Nurse” can you tell us more about that panel and how the event went? I shared my experience as a young educator and how I came to the position I am in today. As a young girl, I watched my mother struggle and stress as a nurse. I also noted her absence or tiredness through some key events in my youth and felt that the nursing job wasn’t for me. I do believe nursing is an honorable career but not in the way that some African women abuse it! Like any job, it isn’t supposed to consume you physically and emotionally but.... that is the case for some. My mother encouraged me to do anything but nursing so I never felt pressure from her in that regard. I did feel pressure to pursue a lucrative career like medicine or law, just because I was ‘smart enough’ for it. Instead, I decided to pursue a career in education because I sensed it was my calling and something that I would be very good at. I was a bit worried in sharing this with my parents at first but when I finally did, they supported me 100%. With their support and God’s favor, I’ve been able to do things in the education field that surpassed my own expectations! I’ve traveled abroad to teach, worked in a variety of classroom settings, and have always had a job (don’t get it twisted--- we need teachers, but it’s hard to compete with the high application rate!) I love my career and though it is stressful at times, the aftermath is absolutely worth the while. What projects will you all be working on in the future? What is next for you? I look forward to pursuing my Master’s Degree in International Education and doing another short term teaching project in Africa--- hopefully, South Africa!
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SPECIAL GHANA ARTS SECTION YAV Magazine is highlighting the work of Peter Nii Narku Thompson. Recently exhibited at the Goethe-Institut exhibit “Muses”, YAV Magazine chose to select Nii Narku’s work because of the vivid use of colors and shapes. Nii Narku Thompson grew up in Ghana, West Africa, and graduated with a diploma at the Ghanatta College of Art and Design (Ghana). His works are centered on the universal themes of religion, culture, politics, and race. Painting mostly in acrylics, his works are heavily textures and Nii is a member of Art Community (Ghana) and Foundation for Contemporary Art Ghana (FCA Ghana). He is also coordinator of Tapped Talents project, a workshop-based project for children. He has also held the position on the Junior Art Club (JAC Ghana). Nii Narku Thompson has worked as a volunteer for Compassion International (Ghana) and Kinder Paradise (Ghana). His works have been exhibited in Ghana, Italy, and the United States. He has exhibited at Alliance Francaise, Goethe Institute, British Council, National Museum in Accra, Ghana. Cam Casoria Contemporary Art Museum in Napoli, Italy, the Blue Line Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, and in New York Museum for National Black Fine Arts of New York City. Other Nii Narku Thompson exhibits include: -Elks Lodge in Naples, Florida -University of North Carolina Wilmington at the Cultural Arts Building Art Gallery -University of North Carolina Pembroke at the Art League -Bomar House in Houston, Texas.
Learn More About Nii Narku Thompson at: niinarkuart.weebly.com
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Visit Mutombo Da Poet blog at www.mutombodapoet.wordpress.com and listen to tracks from PHOTOSENTENCES album at: www.tracks-hulkshare.com/mutombo amd www.soundcloud.com/mutombodapoet
A Street Artistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Story
YAV Magazine looks at the work of Ghanaian urban street photographer Tacitus Nana-Yabani.
acitus Nana-Yabani was born in Cape Coast in a village called Sibriso Abakrapa. He grew up in Accra, Ghana West Africa his entire life. He started working as a photographer when he was 23 years of age, and had to drop out of high school when his grandma died due to financial hardship, as a result he decided to work hard to make it as a self-taught photographer. Tacitus Nana-Yabani considers himself an urban street photographer. His work focuses around the lifestyle of local people and culture in Ghana. He depicts culture through festivals, occupations, food, and clothing, and is inspired by the environment where he comes from, which is a fishing community. He is also inspired by the street children in Ghana because he used to be in their shoes as a child. Tacitus aims to tells stories through the images that he takes. ( Excerpt taken from http://greeklord56.wordpress.com/)
To purchase photographs, request work, or to learn more about the work of Tacitus Nana-Yabani email: email@example.com or visit http://greeklord56.wordpress.com/
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About Young African Visionaries Project & YAV Magazine YAV Magazine’s mission statement is: “Envision Tomorrow Today”, meaning dream and make it happen. YAV Magazine strives to achieve a commitment to excellence by sharing authentic stories of real young Africans making a positive change in the world. YAV Magazine is committed to telling these stories without bias or subjective perspectives but rather allowing our readers to observe for themselves stories of success, triumph, and even stories that tackle challenging topics. We present to our audience the choice to have a say in the world they see beyond them and to also commit to excellence along with us. YAV Magazine celebrates the achievements of African youth worldwide. YAV Magazine is apart of the Young African Visionaries Project that is a three part project; a magazine, a documentary film, and an open forum to celebrate the achievements of African youth.
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