Two internationally distinguished African Artists have a dream of introducing a new phenomenon that would engender African culture amongst artists (musicians, actors/actress, visual artist and others from countries around the continent. Liberian international Curator, Sarah Güsten-Marr and Sir Black (Kojo Yibor) have embarked upon an endeavor that intends to acquaint artists with the culture of their counterparts in other African countries.
Sir Black is the founder of Ehalakasa Ghana and Güsten-Marr is the founder of GalleryGM, Yorkshire England and a philanthropist. They joined forces to create this new initiative called “Cultural Crossings“.
Cultural Crossings will yearly provide the opportunity for chosen Liberian or Ghanaian artists to explore other African cultures in other countries. Güsten-Marr, who was orphaned from birth, already runs her own international artist in resident program in England. Her mother died while giving birth to her and she was adopted by a German family from that day.
The launch of the initiative was held at the Best Western Premier Hotel in Accra recently where Güsten-Marr and a Liberian international actor, Omanza Shaw were in attendance.
“The both of us passionately bout this project because we believe the importance of cultural understanding and this is what we want our artists on the continent to be doing. We want a better image for Africa out there. Let us tell our own stories and let’s stop the strangers from doing that because they will just say anything they want to say which necessarily does not portray Africa’s positive image,” she told the Daily Observer in a telephone conversation from her Yorkshire home in England.
The Cultural Crossing project is firstly focusing on Ghanaians and Liberians Artists and the success from this pilot project will leads to its extension to other parts of the continent, Güsten-Marr said.
Traveling means finding education and knowledge and their plan is to network the African talents/minds. Sarah and Sir Black want to empower these local artists. “One of my major motivating factors was Rocky Dawuni. He has been a very great inspiration for me and congrats to him on The Grammys – his nomination alone means a great win and we are proud of him. I’m honoured to have his wife/Manager here with us who passionately supports the dream as well as Rocky Dawuni does,” Sarah added.
In addition to this initiative, Güsten-Marr has land in a subburd of Accra, (Kokrobite). She says this is where her next investment is to engage the school children at a foster facility there to engage in farming and hygiene, occasionally cleaning the community where they live.
“This is a good way to help ourselves improve our health and agriculture and as well teach the younger generation how to live for themselves and not to grow up depending on others. I have pledged to support from the start with Ghc 500 to Ghc 1,000 every 8 weeks. BBC London is also supporting me and I gather lots of clothes within Ghana, Nigeria, and other parts of the world to bring to foster kids. I was raised an orphan too so it is very dear to my heart to care for these people. I am looking forward to building an exchange team in various countries to share ideas,” she said.
Ghana Deputy Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Dzifa Gomashie, also graced the occasion and pledged her office unflinching support to the project. She is quoted as saying that “the Ghana culture forum group would get some form of funding to support the Ehalakasa group and the Cultural Crossings initiative.”
Present at the occasion were notable figures like Daddy Bosco, celebrated actor Omanza Shaw (of ’Deadly Voyage’ and ‘Ultimate Paradise’ fame) of Liberia and others prominent Ghanaian Artists.