Ghana : Why Everybody Ran Back !

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After seeing this pic on the gram, I knew that the Year of Return in Ghana had to be my next topic I blog about. You guessed it, over 1.5 million people took plane, ferry, catapult or whichever method of transport to get themselves from all over the world, to the sunny and vibrant lands of Ghana. From Ludacris to Cardi B and her infamous chichinga incident to even the Queen B’s mother herself spent new years in Ghana.

Of course, I was watching like a lot of my friends from my phone via SnapChat and Insta stories. Whilst I was drying my eyes of the tears due to not doing up enjoyment like everyone else, I do feel glad that I somewhat saved money. Prices skyrocketed to over 1 grand, and that’s just the tickets alone. If you didn’t get transport and accommodation sorted also, then I guess your bank accounts definitely felt the pain! Nevertheless, 2019 was the definitely the year of African awareness and self-consciousness.

The Year of Return

I actually had to find out from a colleague what it was and why it meant so many people were returning home ( they need to teach this during BHM in schools ).

The “Year of Return, Ghana 2019” is a major landmark spiritual and birth-right journey inviting the Global African family, home and abroad, to mark 400 years of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in Jamestown, Virginia.”. yearofreturn.com

In hindsight, it was an invitation of all descendants from years and years of slavery to come back to their original roots, original heritages and come back to their true homes. The project has many goals and targets. One being for people to come and experience culture and enjoyment in their hometown, another to celebrate the freedom that Africans all over the world currently have and also to boost tourism as it can be a leading indicator to business and investment.

What does this mean for Ghanaians, Africans in general?

For me, I think it brings a new sense of emotion and patriotism for not only Ghana, but for Africa as a whole. If you think about it, Africa definitely wasn’t the dream spot that people wanted to spend their Christmas season at. If it wasn’t America, it was Canada. If it wasn’t the UK it was somewhere in Europe ! But the fact that thousands of people dream about going home to see the places where their parents were born and raised, really brings a sense of change and greatness.

Afro Nation, the festival which features many African and Caribbean artists sharing the beautiful and lovely music that Africa has to provide is also a massive contributor to many people going to Ghana. The festival celebrated the vibrant and emerging culture of Africa and it has definitely had an impact on the younger generation all over the world.

Overall, I am proud of where Ghana and Africa as a whole has transformed and come to be in this current year, it’s rise in popularity, public perception and view has made it a number 1 tourist destination. Who would of thought- not me ! and who knows, mabye Ghana will be seeing me this year after-all ! *crosses fingers*

Thanks for reading !

#ESSENCEINTERVIEWS 3

Welcome back to another Essence Interview!

Today’s post consists of me speaking with the lovely Laila, also known as FusionofCultures on YouTube. Her videos range from showing lovely tutorials of rich and bold hairstyles to sharing useful tips on managing all types of hair, whilst bringing positivity and female empowerment to her channel. In addition, she has recently become a business owner, launching her brand Wild Seed Botanicals in 2018, a skincare brand that focuses on vegan products, bringing benefits to the skin, hair and most importantly spiritual wellbeing. Since I haven’t spoken about my hair journey for a while here, I thought it would be great to bring Laila on here to share some tips, and also share her experience with her brand, for any young entrepreneurs who would like some start up advice!

  1. What made you want to be a part of an online platform such as YouTube?

    For me, it’s slightly different to what it is now. When I originally joined YouTube, it was just a video hosting platform and people used it to upload content and videos for their family members to see. It wasn’t necessarily a destination or a search engine as it has become now. For me I initially joined so I could do just that- to have the link to share with other people. I used to be part of an online community called Keep It Simple Sister (KISS), and this was a platform for black women to come from all around the world and share their hair tips, or healthy hair journeys. I was relaxed back then and when I decided to transition, a lot of people were asking me how you are achieving your hairstyles? you should make videos! That is exactly what I did, I would make videos just so I could share the link within that platform and then overtime it started to grow and then I decided to turn it into a channel, just a destination where everyone could come and see the content that I had been uploading.
  2. What has been the biggest lesson you have learned from YouTube?

    YouTube has definitely instilled a mentality of – there is nothing you can’t achieve or can’t have if you put your mind to it. It has made me bold in my approach to life in my career path that I took initially and my career path that I am on now. It has installed that mentality of being entrepreneurial. I don’t think I would have been that if I hadn’t started a YouTube channel.
  3. In 2019, it’s fair to say a lot of women have made the choice to go natural, do you think it’s due to women like you who can educate on haircare or has it become a trend to do so, so people just follow?I’ve had conversations in the past as to whether being natural has become a trend, and for us to be here now in 2019 still asking that question, it’s already been dispelled. It cannot be a trend as it is still happening. Even if it started out as just a trend, trends do start awareness and awareness creates change. So, something that may have been in the beginning a trendy thing to do, has now created long lasting impact within our community which was very much needed. Not that going natural defines your blackness, or defines you as a black women or man, however it does feed into changing the narrative of self-hate. As much as we try and deny it and as much as we don’t want to admit it, for a very long time, our natural hair or the way it grows on our head was seen as something to be ashamed of. Something that needed to be changed, something that was ugly and wasn’t beautiful and now that narrative has changed. I’ve witnessed people that I started out this journey with, being relaxed and changing to become natural and now their children have become natural,, it’s changing generationally and we talk about generational wealth a lot- and it’s not necessarily always about money, but it’s about building economies, building communities and shifting paradigms and I feel like the natural movement has done and surpassed that at this point.
  4. 4. Do you think women who aren’t relaxed feel a certain pressure from the natural hair community? 

    It could be that they do, within any community online, especially, it could be that there are certain agendas perpetuated and pushed in that natural hair community which we can’t hide from. There are people that do have a certain notion about what it means to be natural and they push that, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a certain pressure from non-naturals by naturals. If you dissect within the natural hair community, there are hierarchies even within the natural hair community unfortunately and certain types of naturals even feel that their type of hair isn’t good enough, and they may feel a certain type of pressure to have their hair look a certain way or be a certain way. I think with any other community, there are so many issues internally, that effect those in it and those around it and those who have a certain proximity to it.Coco Oat Bath Milk - Wild Seed Botanicals

How has the journey been with Wild Seed Botanicals so far?

It’s been amazing! it’s been fulfilling, eye-opening and also very difficult. I think that’s the one thing we fail to talk about on the journey, or on anything. If you start something new, or anything that is not intrinsic to you, something that doesn’t necessarily come naturally to you, it can be difficult. On the same side it’s slightly like a dichotomy as although it has been difficult it has been one of the most fulfilling things, I have decided to do in my life to date. I am very proud of it, to turn 30 and to lookback and see the idea that I had, something that wouldn’t of even been confident to move forward with, I took a leap and I did it and I couldn’t be more prouder. And if the business was to fail tomorrow, I would still feel extremely proud of myself that I did it. There are so many people whose dreams remain nothing but dreams. To know that I have actually tried it and gave it everything, makes me proud of where I am and who I’ve become.

Do you feel pressure to compete against other online brands from influencers e.g. hairlines, clothing lines, cosmetic lines etc?

Not necessarily. I believe we have started to move into an age, where I like to participate in a new age of collaborative effort. For me when I see for example other black women that are now entrepreneurial or starting their own business- I never see that as competition I see that as progress. For me, if they win then I also win. If they are able to break through glass ceilings, that means there is a possibility that I could do the same and vice versa. So, in that sense I don’t see anyone as competition, and I don’t feel pressure to compete with other people that have opened their own businesses or anything like that, however as a business, you have to have a certain level of strategy moving forward. One thing that I say to my current intern, when we are online and following brands within the same industry or niche as us, you see these brands as competition only because they are aspirational, following people that are aspirational allows you to strive to be your best, move forward and see something or understand the processes of how the industry works. So, we do have competition – it is business and that is how competition works, but in a broader sense and overarching sense I am more open to seeing a collaborative effort then I am about individuality.

What would be some tips you would give to a young person in starting their own business?

First tip- you need to have a vision that is extremely strong- something you can literally feel tangibly in your mind. You see it, you know what it feels like once you achieve it and you need to visualise every single one of these things because the journey is never easy. Being able to see that vision clearly will keep you moving forward and will stop you from throwing in the towel.

Secondly, unless you feel passionate about it, don’t do it. The passion is the other element that will keep you going and will help you to wake up in the morning, it will fuel and motivate you. There are things in the world that can inspire us but only you can motivate yourself, if you are not passionate about something, it is very hard for you to achieve it.

Finally enjoy the journey, at each stage that you achieve something, you always have to acknowledge it and celebrate every single win, and celebrating the small wins is what will make the times that seem difficult, easier as it would remind you- if I could overcome this, then I could do the next thing! 

CHECK OUT: 

IG: wildseedbotanicals, neffyfrofro
W: wildseedbotanicals.com

Thanks for reading, stay blessed!

Review : UNFAZEDBOX AFRICAN CLOTHING PIECES !

Heyy!

So I’m no expert at fashion but I do know that the use of African fabrics, whether it be Kente or Ankara or any other fabric has been very prominent in todays fashion. African fabrics as a whole has been incorporated into many styles from Jumpsuits to maxi dresses to even jewellery and it has taken a liking to many people including celebrities pictured in them

Its funny how it has become so widespread in terms of cultures, in the past you would never expect another person who is not from Africa or has any part of that background to be wearing such materials, however its really become popular, even when I went to a Christian Camp in Peterborough for the majority of the time I was spent there , many people where pictured in Dashikis, I was so amazed !

What I love about this is the creativity and the uniqueness it has, and the many designs you can use to make your desired outfit, after all it is a piece of material like any other that is used to make any other piece of clothing, so why has it been so long for it to suddenly be used by many manufacturers in their clothing lines?

That’s why I was so delighted when I got sent these pieces by a company called Unfazed Box , the owner , Tunde is an amazing young teen who has recently started to make her own Ankara designs with simple jewellery pieces which she asked me to review, Here are some pics:

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When I saw these pieces I absolutely fell in love with them, and I received many compliments from others when I wore them out, I was amazed at the detailed print in them and how simple they were to wear, I will definitely be purchasing more of these items and will do follow up reviews on them for you to see

You can check out their page on Instagram : @unfazedbox , or you can look at their website for more of their products : http://www.unfazedbox.bigcartel.com/

 

My Natural Hair Journey – Do I Regret It ?

Although I haven’t been strictly counting since I stopped relaxing my hair , I would say its been 3 years since transitioning and 2 years since doing my big chop (transitioning is where you stop relaxing you hair and allow you natural hair to come in, big chop is when you cut off all your relaxed hair and ends to allow your natural hair to grow )

So how has my journey been so far, and do I actually think I made the right choice by going natural or was it all just a big mistake ??

Well I guess I will just put out all the negatives first to end on a high note, this natural journey hasn’t been all that easy. I’ve had to learn so many methods and ways of keeping my hair with such a busy schedule of school and friends. I honestly do miss my relaxed hair as I was a big fan of pony hairstyles, leave outs with weave and just being able to have my hands run freely through my hair. The major lesson I have learnt is that going natural is hard, hard , harrrrrd , hard work. It takes a lot of effort and work with natural hair as you have to try many products and styles to see what and what it doesn’t like. It literally is like a baby to you, it’s your job and your responsibility to take care of it

I wouldn’t say its much of a burden or annoyance, however I realised it takes up a lot of work and honestly I really don’t have the amount of time I wish to spend on my hair, that’s why the majority of the time it’s in protective styling such as braids, twists or under a wig, just so it is hidden away from the outside world I guess lool.

Well enough of the negatives, let’s look at the positives-

First thing is I feel like I have joined a family! , with all the natural hair gurus here on YouTube I feel as if I have connected spiritually with them in a way that can’t really be explained. This year I really wanted to find out my identity more and appreciate my natural self. I had already written some posts on this (Embracing your culture post and Don’t Touch My Hair post) which can be found on my blog here. I get a great feeling once I take out my braids and see how much my hair has grown naturally, and I get to connect with other natural girls to share tips on what products to use or what tricks to use to improve my hair growth, this has definitely been a benefit for me

Also I’ve come across many staple products that have helped me tackle this 4C hair of mine that enable me to manage it well. One being my Shea Butter straight from Ghana, making sure that it isn’t processed and it hasn’t got any other ingredients inside it. I use this as a moisturiser after wash days and also to help keep my hair soft and easier to tackle. This has definitely been a favourite product of mine so far

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As well as essential oils to help with hair growth, one being Jamaican black castor oil which really helps with edge growth and scalp care. Not so keen on the smell of it though, but it’s not too daunting and it can totally be concealed with a good smelling cream or spray. These two products really do it for me as I don’t like to bombard my hair with all these products so I make it simple and neat at all times.

So overall , do I regret going natural ? Not really, it’s hard but I wouldn’t want to go back to where my hair was in terms of its volume and its health. I have to get used to the needs my new hair has, just like with any change. So far I am loving and enjoying it to the fullest ! And I would encourage anyone considering going natural to just take the plunge and do it, Best experience of my life yet.

Thanks for reading !

 

Embracing Your Culture

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“Wouldn’t you just wish you were British” Hmm now me personally I haven’t heard that line or question from anyone in my lifetime and to be quite frantic, a place where over 270 nationalities and 300 different languages remain in London alone, So I wouldn’t be surprised if I never get to hear those words come out of a person’s mouth. So, in this twirl up of immense diversity and multi-cultural city, one may ask – How exactly do you embrace your individual culture?

Well me, I’m Ghanaian. That’s’ all I’ve got in me loool. Of course, I was born here in London and I’ve lived here my entire life. I know that my origins and roots are instilled in Ghana. Both my parents are from Ghana and that’s where they were born and raised. So, I’ve automatically been brought up and surrounded by Ghanaian traditions all my life. To start with, my name is Efe which is Ghanaian, Fante (tribe in Ghana) to be more precise, meaning I’m Friday born. So when people meet me they automatically know I’m from Ghana (or I get the occasionally odd Nigeria…) but overall my name just sets me back to my African roots.

I feel like surrounding yourself with people from your country really helps too. All my life I have been surrounded by Ghanaians in pretty much everything I do. From nursery, even till now I have had Ghanaian or at least African friends, my church is mainly Ghanaian and my area of where I live has a high percentage of Afro-Caribbean members in the community, so I’ve always learnt the ways of people from not just Ghana but Africa alone, honestly I can tell whenever someone is walking past me, if they are Ghanaian or not. They have a certain look to them lool. Obviously, areas of Britain with a low percentage of Africans in the community can make you feel quite remote.

Music and Social Media play a HUGE part in me Embracing my culture, you may think me living in Britain, I’m subjected to listening to Take That and eating Sausages and Mash yeah… Hell No. Africa is literally everywhere in terms of music and lifestyle. UK Afro beats have absolutely taken off and has grown over the years. Before, people would of been embarrassed to listen to the likes of Kwabena Kwabena or Sarkodie when they’re out with their friends. But literally I find listening to them and even the classics a normal thing to me, as I’m learning to embrace my culture in terms of music. With the likes of DJ Abrantee, giving us the sounds of Fuse ODG, Kwamz and Flava, J Hus, Moelogo, Mr Silva, Mr Eazi, Jaij Hollands, Lola Rae etc. the list can go on and on. The point is as well as UK artist and sound that we get to enjoy, we also get to enjoy Africa in our sound as well

Almost all social media platforms incorporate culture in their pages, posts or in their videos. Instagram has thousands of Ghanaian food pages, clothes pages and lifestyle pages that get likes upon likes all the time. This helps in me embracing what my country as well as other countries have to give unto the world. Hashtags and popular sites are nearly impossible to miss if you have a great community of friends having discussions and debates about their own country, especially about who makes the best Jollof rice (obviously, it’s Ghana, but we will leave that for another day)

Overall, I encourage anyone struggling to be proud of their culture, even if you’re not from an African country, may it be Asian or Caribbean, to learn more and have a deeper understanding f were their lives are fixed in. Ask friends and relatives to understand your countries traditions, food, clothing, lifestyle, music etc. and before you know it Embracing your culture will come naturally !