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GHANA: MAAME AFON

A Word From “African Queens Project” Founder:

It's hard not to notice Maame as she has a personality and a smile that will leave you feeling loved. Not to mention her voice! The woman can saaang (when it goes beyond just singing)! Maame is one of the Milead Fellowship Mentors and is someone I admire. She is a woman with an incredible love and passion to see people know who they are and know what the are meant to be. I encourage everyone to check out her new material on:

hhttp://maameafon.com/album/ekome/

This is what she has shared with African Queens Project. Inspire to Aspire!

BACKGROUND

 

I identify myself as a whole woman and whole leader, which simply means I bring all of who I am to everything I do. I strongly believe that when we show up in our “wholeness” we thrive in our passion and calling and everyone also benefits. I was born and raised in Ghana and moved to US in 1999 to attend University. Staying true to the notion of whole woman, my passion and gifting in music materialized with the release of my debut album Rise in May 2012 with a message using inspirational music from many genres to celebrate Africa and promote social justice. A true next generation leader in the best tradition of the continent, I am mother of three young children and have made a career of giving—working and volunteering with many organizations such as Global Fund for Women, African Women’s Development Fund, Global Women’s Leadership Network , and Moremi Initiative for Women’s Leadership in Africa.  I have woven music into conferences and programs such as the African Feminist Forum, the Bioneers conference, the UN Commission on the Status of Women and last year at the Caribbean Heritage Organization’s Salute to Hollywood and the Arts. My faith is integral to everything I do, including serving as a worship leader in church.  I have an MA in human rights, gender and international development and a BA in French and Spanish, as well as working experience in grant making, philanthropy, social justice, women’s rights and development focused on Sub-Saharan Africa.

  • What inspires and motivates you?

I am inspired by those who came before us and paved the path for us. I am aware of the toil and sacrifices that have provided the shoulders, on which we stand to reclaim, restore and recognize a space for women and girls as well as their contributions to society. In particularly, I am inspired by my mother who defied the odds on many levels as a single mother and in the process left a solid legacy and foundation on which future generations can build.

  •  What are some struggles you faced in your life that came about because of your gender?

While the women in my family are outspoken and push the limit with regards to the designated roles of women, there are still elements of constructed roles for girls/women that pertain. Growing up with all male cousins, I would always be called upon to do house chores while the boys played. And although considered equals, my responsibilities as a girl who would grow to be a woman, wife and mother, meant there were certain “things” I needed to learn,  which meant I could not “hang” with my cousins and follow them as I would have wished. Because of this I even considered myself a “tomboy.”

  • How have you overcome these struggles and/or insecurities?

At a very early age even before I could name it, I was practicing, speaking my truth, speaking truth to power and speaking up when and as often and as needed. Embracing and embodying whole woman has been an uplifting experience as I show up not in compartments or silos but as a whole woman bringing all of me---my faith, hopes, passion, gifts, fears, and triumphs among others. I continue to speak and own my truth, recognizing it is not about having it all but being comfortable showing up with all of who I am.

  • Do you believe it is important to share your story with other women?

The only way we have been inspired is through the stories we have read or heard of the visionary and bold leaders/pacesetters, and if we are to pay it forward and build a sustainable platform for future generations, then it becomes even more critical to share our stories--not just the triumphs but also the lessons to inspire hope, and equip and engage more women and girls. In Ghana we have a saying that “Dua kor dzi ahom obu” meaning when one tree holds everything together it eventually breaks down. So it will be if few share their stories—our progress will be halted. “So the more stories, the merrier.”

  • Why did you choose the path you did?

To pay it forward. In order to pour out what has been invested in me. In order to play a part in building a vigorous, vibrant and colorful movement of women and girls who embody whole woman, whole leader, for a whole world.

  •  What would you tell another young woman who wants to go down the same path?

Stand your ground and diligently pursue character not comfort because when all is said and done character will sustain your passion, and vision. Your unique factor will be character.

  • What do you do to give back to your community?

Investing in the leadership of young African women by calling out their potential.

  • If you could tell young women 1 thing, what would it be

Always speak and own your truth and never compromise your beliefs—no matter what.