In December, AFROCHELLA Festival kicked off their month-long celebrations with AFROCHELLA Talks – a series that serves to connect creative sector professionals with well-established industry leaders on various topics of African and African Diaspora business.
The popular end-of-year event, which took place at the picturesque BBnZ Live in the capital city of Accra, Ghana, in partnership with streaming giant Audiomack, focused on a necessary area of dialogue – ‘Black Girl Magic Breaks Borders‘.
Taking a deep dive into global barriers placed by patriarchal red tape, our panel discussion sought to highlight methods in which women have been at the forefront of the revitalisation of the diaspora.
that panel, I was surrounded by musician Shavone C., Teen Vogue’s Dani
Kwateng-Clark and sought-after video director and producer Scilla Owusu. These
are women who have grown into the power of their talents and using their
experiences as tools of allyship within the global Black community.
There was an air of excitement at the venue that demonstrated a willingness to create meaningful experiences, connect with emerging professionals ready to take the next step in their career and cohere on challenges that many black women face as they climb to the stairs to success.
Here are 5 things that blew our minds at AFROCHELLA Talks:
The challenges of being black and female is largely universal
After sharing some of our professional experiences, it was clear that there was a common trend in the equation: Our blackness and our femaleness were often seen as threatening to a wider systemic structure that sought to exclude our ideas on creating diverse safe spaces. My advice? “You have to know the rules in order to break them.” Whether you choose to work in a corporate environment or to establish your own company, understand that there is a wider ecosystem that needs you to be the change that you wish to see.
Reinventing culture can be a thankless task
Shavone C. explained that “…having a lens on data, trends and how we impact and move culture” is still an issue that our community has not been able to monetarily capitalise on. Whether it’s a chicken sandwich or a trending word, “we don’t make any money from our ideas, and that has to change,” she explained.
Get comfortable telling your own story in your own voice
Panel moderator and AFROCHELLA’s director of content, Tiffany Bender, posed a very poignant question to me: “How do we support the inclusion of Caribbean creatives into the wider African Diaspora?”. As one of the most diverse regions in the world that is home to various faces and spaces, it is important that we get comfortable with telling our Caribbean story our way and accept our value – before it’s told by someone else.
Lean into your learnings and take up space
As one of the most in-demand video directors and producers on the Afrobeats scene, Scilla Owusu is no stranger to being the only woman on set. She revealed that a key to her success is taking every opportunity to learn. “When I was in film school, I was reading well beyond my academic level. You will be challenged on the job by people who will try to bring you down, and your rebuttal must always be with knowledge. My age does not determine my worth.”
The African sisterhood exists, even when you don’t see us.
As the AFROCHELLA Talks panel discussion came to a close in Ghana, there was a spirit of camaraderie. We saw the faces of black women – relieved, happy, excited, curious – with a renewed vigour to join the ranks of building a community destined to support, build and celebrate each other.
Tenille Clarke is an avid wanderlust, Carnivalist and cultural enthusiast who pens about her ongoing love affair with travel, culture and entertainment through a Caribbean lens. She is the Principal Publicist of Chambers Media Solutions and Managing Director of Industry 360. (@tenilleclarke1 on Instagram/Twitter)