Photo credit: AP


Inside The Rise of African Culture

Photo credit: AP

New technology spurs cultural appreciation, helping Africa to foster a complex, honest global identity

By Wale Oloworekende

October 2023

When Canadian pop giant, Drake, hopped on the remix of Wizkid’s balmy 2014 hit, “Ojuelegba” in 2015 — he ignited a global interest in the burgeoning Afrobeats scene. The musical union was brokered by British-Nigerian rapper and entrepreneur, Skepta, and in the eight years since, Afrobeats—and African culture by extension—has taken off, setting the stage for the continent’s recognition as a rising power in music, fashion, art, and film.


African culture’s rise to global prominence has, undoubtedly, been powered by its ingenious acts that combine their homegrown identity with global ambition. But it’s the contributions of key players like Skepta and members of the African diaspora scattered across the world who serve as unofficial ambassadors that have enabled this international awakening. 


“The African diaspora is the bridge between what’s happening internationally and on the ground in the continent,” Ronx Bamisedun, the VP of international Strategy and Artist Development at Love Renaissance, tells STATEMENT. “They’re well-traveled and are always on the move between where they live and their homeland, so they’re the ones showing their colleagues at work what’s happening or what talent to look out for.”


The African diaspora is largely responsible for the rise of Afrobeats as popular acts like Wizkid, Davido, and Burna Boy have steadily progressed from playing theater dates to selling out stadiums across Europe and North America. According to Bamisedun, the close involvement of the African diaspora with these acts comes from a place of pride in the culture. “10 years ago, it wasn’t cool to be African in America or the UK,” she explains. “In the past, you’d ask people where they were from, and they’d lie and say they were Jamaican when they were probably from Lagos because it wasn’t cool. Now because our creative currency is so strong,  our music, food, and culture are traveling.”


While popular music from Africa has undoubtedly been a success, other art forms are gaining similar prominence. Visual artists with African origins like Victor Ehikhamenor, Amoako Boafo, Ayanfe Olarinde, and Kwesi Botchway, have received critical praise globally for their work across painting, sculpting, and design. Ghanaian culture reporter, Gameli Hamelo, says that the rise in popularity of work by these artists is linked to a desire to change the narrative about Africa. “It got to the stage where the diaspora got tired of the negative imagery that is typically associated with the continent,” he says. “They have the power and accessibility of the internet now and want to use it to tell the world more robust stories about the continent. Supporting the art and artists from Africa is one of the ways to do that and it helps to project a different image of the continent.”


Outsider financial support has historically meant that African artists have less control over their output and the frequent elevation of works that propagate colonial biases, but the diaspora’s renewed investment into the continent has enabled a new level of freedom.  “The African diaspora is in a space where they have the power to control the narrative,” Hamelo adds. “In the past, that wasn’t the case because western institutions like the BBC and CNN were often the sole source of information about culture. Now it’s very different; you have people on YouTube, podcasts, X, and many social media platforms being the primary source of information for a new generation and it’s being used in the right way.”


Technology continues to play a critical role in allowing African creatives to share their work with a global audience, find diasporan audiences who get behind this work, and ensure that it’s not lost to time. The arrival of streaming platforms, in film and music, has played a key role in helping to shape fuller and more contextual narratives around the African experience. “I think streaming is a powerful tool,” Nigerian-American filmmaker, Amarachi Nwosu, tells STATEMENT. “I think it’s amazing to have these different conglomerates invest in Africa.” 


The investment made by Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Showmax allows African filmmakers to curate empathetic and multi-layered stories about the continent. “Even if you are in Japan and your friend doesn’t know anything about African filmmaking, you can go and show them films,” Nwosu says. “You can show them The Black Book and be like, ‘Hey. This is a really interesting film that tackles so many different narratives coming out of Nigeria. This is a story you should watch,’  and they can learn something from that experience.”


Ultimately, Nwosu believes that collaboration between the African diaspora and the continent is key to maintaining momentum going forward. “I think the African diaspora plays a role in just making sure that there’s an opportunity for the people that are the future storytellers,” she points out. “I think, on both sides, that I want to see an African diaspora that directly invests in the stories that we want to see come out of the continent, but I also want to see a continent that is equally engaged in stories from the African diaspora, especially these experiences of people who are navigating new terrains.”


Exploring Ghana Through Film

Ghana’s Cultural Diversity and Strife on Film

By Takunda Chimutashu

July 2023

  • Gold Coast Lounge depicts Ghana’s transition to a less corrupt economy after independence from Britain.

  • My Mother’s Heart a colorful representation of the diversity of Ghana’s tribes.

  • Aloe Vera invokes humor to explore the tribal conflicts that have long plagued Ghana.

  • Azali sheds light on human trafficking in Ghana.


Ghana is a country with a deep history, complex socio-political structures and a vast population made up of many cultures and tribes. These films are a fantastic resource for navigating Ghanaian social and historical nuances, and for gaining valuable understanding beyond the cliches often portrayed in mainstream media.


From the subtle political commentary of Gold Coast Lounge and the tribal diversity of My Mother’s Heart,  to the awareness raised on issues of tribalism and child trafficking in Aloe Vera and Azali, these filmmakers lay the truth of life in Ghana bare for us to see and experience. 

Gold Coast Lounge (2019)


Figuring Out the Independence Thing


Daniel (Alphonse Menyo), adopted son of a ruthless drug kingpin, money launderer and owner of Gold Coast Lounge is forced to legitimize his business or face the wrath of an anti-corruption government. He is opposed by his siblings, Wisdom (Pascal Aka) and Akatua (Zynnell Zuh), who choose to continue down a dark path.


This Cain and Abel film noir allows us to understand the fundamental sentiments that existed during Ghana’s early years as the very first country to gain independence from Britain in the mid-1960s.


Gold Coast Lounge takes place during the coup of 1966, which saw Ghana’s transition to a militant anti-crime government, led by Jerry Rawlings. The film is more than a stylized surrealist exploration of film noir. It pushes further, to help us understand post-colonial Ghana, through the eyes of a family of gangsters.


My Mother’s Heart (2005)


A Magical Film Explores Ghana’s Rich Cultures


Nana Yaa (Akofa Edjeani Asiedu) moves from place to place to avoid a war that is consuming the magic-filled lands of her country. Half-starved and desperate, she finds a village to call home, and becomes its queen.


My Mother’s Heart is a well-composed testament to Ghana’s rich cultural diversity—one of its most significant treasures. Ghana has more than 100 ethnic groups and tribes, and boasts one of the world’s most culturally diverse populations. Each has its own set of cultural beliefs, while still sharing incredible stories of their ancestors, histories, and traditions.


 Despite its magical elements, the film is for mature audiences. Sadly, even the most beautiful light casts a dark shadow and Ghana’s cultural diversity has a dark side that is addressed by the next film on the list: tribalism. 


This classic Ghanaian film captures the nostalgic Ghollywood editing and music, to the old-school green screen effects and folklore-based storylines, My Mother’s Heart still holds a special place in many a Ghanaian’s heart. 


Aloe Vera


Confrontation: A Romeo-and-Juliet Tale of Tribal Clashes in Ghana


The forbidden romance between Aloewin (Aaron Adatsi), a man from Aloe, and Veralin (Alexandra Ayirebi-Acquah), a woman from Vera, symbolizes the confrontation of two communities in the village of Kelelewe that are forced to confront the absurd reality they adhere to. Aloe vera is a romantic comedy with a stellar cast and a big heart that uses a simple, effective approach to address tribalism.


The film is a clever representation of tribal clashes in Ghana. The Aloes (who believe the chicken came first) and the Veras (who believe the egg came first) quickly create stereotypes and propaganda about each other and train future generations to hate everything about each other. The tribes even go as far as resolving conflict using intense tug-of-war competitions. The village of Kelewele (the name of Ghana’s beloved crispy plantain snack) is divided over the very trivial yet popular debate of the chicken and the egg (literally) and ultimately each side builds their lives and identities around the villagers’ failure to resolve the conflict.—a clever representation of tribal clashes. 


As with the confrontation between the Aloes and the Veras, relations between Ghana’s 100+ vibrant ethnic groups is far from perfect. The roots of tribalism, which existed before colonial times, were reinforced by both colonial and post-colonial governments. Ghanaians recognize this problem and, through education, aim to stress national unity and an understanding of different cultures and traditions.

Azali (2018)


Fighting Child Trafficking: Tackling Ghana’s Brazen Crime


In a desperate attempt to give Amina a better life, her mother (Akofa Edjeani Asiedu) gives her to a woman who claims to find young girls lucrative jobs, but instead traffics and sells them. Follow the sad tale of Amina (Asana Alhassan), 14-year-old from a poor village who has no prospects beyond child marriage.


Efforts to combat child trafficking in Ghana have been significant but slow. In 2008, the Ghanaian government established its first Anti-Human Trafficking Unit, to coordinate and implement national efforts to combat human trafficking.  


Organizations such as the IOM are trying to educate and engage people from around the world to raise awareness and find solutions to trafficking worldwide. 


Ghana has a deep history, complex socio-political structures and a vast population made up of many cultures and tribes. These films help viewers to navigate Ghanaian social and historical nuances. They offer a valuable understanding beyond the cliches often portrayed in mainstream media.


These filmmakers lay the truth of life in Ghana bare for us to see and experience. From the subtle political commentary of Gold Coast Lounge, to the tribal diversity of My Mother’s Heart,  to the awareness raised on issues of tribalism and child trafficking in Aloe Vera and Azali.