Young Africans in America on a mission to rebrand homeland

Share The Grio Share The Grio
Sandra Appiah

Sandra Appiah

“We want to make sure Africa has a voice and is showcased in a positive and progressive light,” says Appiah, who works full-time as F2FA’s Editor-In-Chief/Chief Operations Director. “We also needed to start a conversation and bridge the gap between Africans and peoples of African descent to connect with their roots.”

She says the heart of the story is “we have done everything ourselves, without funding or a major investor.” The young multi-media mogul adds, “It was bringing a vision without investment.” As the brand has evolved, Appiah says individuals committed to the cause have lent their support.

As a testimony to the success of the Face2Face Africa brand, in December, Appiah and Boateng were able to launch F2FA Magazine, a high-end contemporary pan-African magazine. F2FA can currently be purchased online prior to it hitting retail stores across the States, Europe and Africa.

The maiden issue profiles Kwame Boateng, Kwesi Boakye and Kofi Siriboe, three Ghanaian young actors (and brothers) who are making waves in Hollywood. It also features a compilation of some of the most beautiful African women around the world, as well as interviews with BET’s Michael Armstrong and a profile of award-winning Ghanaian actress Lydia Forson.

Despite the digital revolution, the magazine has a multi-niche market “because it’s filling in an important void,” says Appiah. “Our vision was always to launch a print version.”

New York native Abi Ishola-Ayodeji, 31, is also using her multi-media skills to reconnect with people back home. By day, Ishola-Ayodeji works as a producer for a New York television station, by night she assumes her role as co-host of Culture Shock: Nigerians in America.

The talk show airs on Nigeria’s Ibadan-based radio station, Splash 105.5FM and can also be heard online. Ishola-Ayodeji says the show is a vehicle to connect Nigerians in Nigeria to Nigerians in America like never before.

Her husband and co-presenter, Kunle Ayodeji, was raised in Nigeria, so she says she’s well aware of the challenges facing immigrants in America. “Relocating is difficult,” with issues like “assimilating into a new culture to having an accent, a different outlook on life and even eating different types of food. Nigerians also have to deal with stereotypes about fraud.”

Ishola-Ayodeji was born and bred in Miami, Florida, though her family is from Nigeria. She says growing up as a Nigerian-American, she would even get asked questions like “did you sleep in trees,” does your family “use goats as cats,” and of course children made fun of her foreign name.

In reality, Africa still has many challenges to overcome, but these dynamic young entrepreneurs, driven by a desire to tell their own stories, are using multi-media skills to show the world that real change and new opportunities are taking place.

Follow Kunbi Tinuoye on Twitter at @Kunbiti