When I was young, being of African origin was something that was not considered trendy. How times change, Africa and all things African are now deemed ‘the in thing’.
I now get people saying to me ‘where are you from?’ and when I reply ‘Ghana’ the response is ‘ I really want to go there’ or ‘I hear it’s amazing’. Trust me, this would never have been the response when I was a child.
Now when I go back to Ghana, I encounter an array of people from countries all over the world visiting with some even setting up home there. For me, seeing people appreciate the beauty that Africa has to offer, as well as the talent of Africans is something that I will never get tired of; finally the world gets to see what I have always known, Africa is beautiful.
GUBA Expo 2016
GUBA stands for Ghana UK Based Achievements, and the organisation recently held a three day Expo in Greenwich.
The Expo actually came to my attention via social media, and having read details of the same online, I felt compelled to attend. The purpose of the Expo is for the promotion of African businesses in the UK, and gives the opportunity for small and medium sized businesses to introduce themselves and their products to the UK.
I attended on the second day of the Expo. Upon entering the venue, what greeted me was an array of businesses, each exhibiting their various products. The variety was vast, from clothing to jewellery, interior design, to specially made bags.
I engaged in conversations with a number of business owners and was astounded to find out that a number had actually come all the way from Ghana to attend and exhibit at the event. Such is the desire to promote their products in the UK. What really hit home for me, was seeing such creativity which should (in my opinion) be available to a wider market, however at present this is not always the case.
OT & O Home interiors Ltd
The creative director behind this brand, Tosin Janes-Odukiya, makes contemporary African inspired home accessories such as rugs, carpets, cushions. To see the quality of the same, I personally felt that they wouldn’t look out of place in the window of a high end London store.
Upon speaking with her, she explained how the company was created and the difficulties she has had to overcome. Listening to her I felt nothing but admiration. However what I did find disheartening, was that the current market in which the products are sold is not as large as one may think.
As such events such as the GUBA Expo, are so important as it actively encourages and promotes trade. However there is still work to be done, as without the support (specifically the buying of the products), the products will never reach their full potential. This would most certainly be a shame, as the uniqueness is such, which deserves international recognition.
Cessa sells beautifully intricate pieces of handmade jewellery. In my mind, Cessa’s pieces look like they wouldn’t be out of place around the necks of well known super models. However as Cessa is based in Ghana, the actuality of that actually happening is very low. Cessa spends hours upon hours creating just one piece, and her dedication is evident. When speaking to her, she was passionate and you could tell that her creations were done for the love of the craft. For the customer, her pieces looked like art, and I truly hope that Cessa Limited soon becomes a recognised brand.
Africa and all things African shouldn’t be a trend for the moment, the same of which is forgotten in a year or two. The experience of attending the GUBA Expo has instilled in me the desire to promote African products and I for one, will certainly be attending future events, and purchasing their products; but more importantly I will be actively directing my peers and colleagues to consider products from African companies.
For now, I pay homage to Dentaa Amoateng and the GUBA organisation for working so hard to promote Africa and recognise the talents of Africans.
The role GUBA has played to date, has allowed Africa and Africans to be seen as a force to be reckoned with; the stars in Africa are too bright to be dimmed, as such it’s Africa’s time to rise up!