40 Days Around the World
Zhaneirie – One on One with KuuKua Eshun
By Zhaneirie Keita
Conversations with today’s most interesting people are one of the most extraordinary moments that we live for. Life takes an unexpected route when we try to focus all of what we are into just a single droplet of paint, that splatters onto a drop cloth while creating our self universe. Wait a second, you’re thinking…tongue twister for a feature introduction? No – But our minds are so powerful at times, that we begin to interpret and visualize what we read in our subconsciousness without us even knowing.
The droplet of paint might just be a droplet for many but, for others, it could represent the broken dreams that led to new beginnings to understand ourselves. This sounds like a confession of a deep thinker. When it comes to arts or cultural change makers, they are innovative and deep thinkers. It is true that the mastery of deep thinking is the root of creativity. With that said, meet my favorite arts and culture change maker Kuukua Eshun, an enthusiast with a purpose for living her best life.
Let’s get Deeper into the Femisphere
“ Don’t let the world swallow you. You don’t have to adjust to the world, the world can learn to adjust to you.” – Kuukua Eshun
Curious about the world around her, Kuukua — whose soul name is derived from the Fante tribe of Ghana, West Africa meaning Girl Born On a Wednesday is a Ghanaian-American storyteller, poet, mental health advocate, filmmaker, and philanthropist. How’s that for grabbing the world by the lapels? Through her work, she demonstrates that it is ok for a woman to be strong, ambitious and up to the task of being a leader in the field of her expertise. Vibrant, observant, humble and humorous are just a few words that I would use to describe Kuukua Eshun. Her infectious laughter is guaranteed to brighten your day, she is changing the narrative of a woman’s rightful place.
A Peek through the Kaleidoscope
“ Art is everything, art is the way you feel, the way you think, the way you dress, the way that you talk and walk. Art is my way of life, I can’t recall any part of my life where I wasn’t creating art. ” Kuukua Eshun
When she is not busy traveling the world from Egypt, Paris, to the United Kingdom — there’s no telling where she’ll go next but, we can always depend on her to bring some fire back home in Ghana. Inspired by the feminine energy, the motivational speaker at heart has graced the stages of the University of Cincinnati, Ohio State University, Ghana International School, Re: public and since recently Right to Dream Academy to speak on topics surrounding arts, mental health, and social issues. She has no fear to protest for the rights of women and her work can attest to that. She creatively conveys her thoughts and emotional intelligence through her short poetry films. One particular short poetry film that caught the attention of 21,000 viewers on Youtube was Kuukua Eshun’s “Stranger To Your Seed”.
Watch “Stranger to Your Seed” Here
Thinking about you always mostly feels
like having a time capsule in my mind
that could never be destroyed.
Is it just me or do you also feel sad about being a stranger to your seed?
A book a read last summer said,
“A daughter should never have to beg her father for a relationship”
I forgive you for thinking I wasn’t enough for you to change.
My scars are testimonies that tell the stories
Of how good and evil needs to exist in the same space for healing to take place.
I forgive you.
Written, Directed, Styled, Narrated by Kuukua Eshun @kuuksss
Shot by: @blackimagegh
Music/ Sound Design by @iambeatmenace
Her poetry takes a deliberate irregular structure that depends on an emotional pull effect from the reader. In this specific poem, she digs beneath your skin leaving a crippling aftershock within your body. She explores the theme of parent/child relationship, coming of age, coping with tragedy, in a story like fashion that you would expect from a ballad poem. With her poems such as “Women Act of Love”, and “Couple Black Kids; a collaborative work between Superjazz club and Kuukua, you can find solace, solidarity, and comfort to better understand the world experiences of those who deal with the harsh truth of realities we still fear to speak out about. In the near future we can expect a full series of Act of Love poetry films.
#BSGSurfGang – Skate Gal Style
“ For a very long time, I felt like I had to be just one specific thing. Now, I just let go – I consider myself a shapeless form that can fit into anything.”
By the time the brown skin girl anthem rolled in, afro hair was back in full swing, retro babes were wearing flannels and dungarees complemented by hot round glasses, Kuukua amongst other women were getting on board with skating fever. Skate Gal Club, as seen in Vogue magazine, Yahoo News, Konbini and Braperucci publication is Ghana’s first skate crew exclusively by and for women. This nonprofit was founded by kuukua Eshun and Sandi Alibo, the founder of Surf Ghana. A unique group consisting of students, teachers, entrepreneurs, filmmakers, journalists and more, was launched at the Berj Art Gallery. With an aim to change the lives of ( let’s put it at 600 and counting) women and girls through social inclusion, empowerment, and education, Skate Gal Club defies the stereotypes of women through sports. Skateboarding is a relatively new sport in Ghana, however it has the potential to unplug the marginalized society of Ghanian girls to create something bigger.
KuuKua Eshun “Woman, Act of Love”
For girls who became women, wives, mothers grandmothers.
You’ve been told to only take what you can.
That dreams get shuttered like waiting on the sun on a cold winter morning with dry lips and dead cells falling slowly at your feet.
That your womb is the only thing that makes you whole.
Because you are a tree, wishing, waiting for the harvest.
That your body belongs to all the eyes and hands that aren’t yours.
And even though your body spills open, splits, rips and your seeds bleed.
somehow you put it back together.
Although you were made out of love.
A combination of magic, the shape of your grandfather’s eyes and your mother’s beating heart.
You are still only pretty if he says you are.
His love for you is as big as the size of your breast.
As large as the size your hips.
As wide as your mouth could swallow.
Your body is only warm enough when his hands are searching for the keys we’ve locked away in your living enough soul.
Girl, woman, wife, mother, grandmother…
You carry the spirits of all the generations that came before you.
You are a builder, a fighter.
You were made of power and the right amount of beauty to produce an entire nation.
Behind the Glow-Getter
“ My ability to love and show love to other people is what makes me happy. ”
Food for thought — one of the most traditional forms of storytelling is recounted during bedtime. A book is like a garden that sow the seeds of knowledge and when nurtured, it grows into an ageless imagination. Back in time, Kuukua’s favorite childhood memory is her younger self snuggled up to her mother’s bosom and listening to stories from the Bible, these bedtime stories became her foundation for giving hands. As one whom her mother comforted, she became a mother to many children. Kuukua along with her partner Prince Gyesi are the founders of Boxed kids. Boxed Kids a nonprofit organization that provides educational opportunities to creative children in Jamestown, Ghana. This organization, since its inception, has caught the attention of many and spiked the interest of platforms such as Suitcase Magazine, Embassy of Netherlands, Nataal, Skoll, and Ignant. In September, the founders served as the Right to Dream Academy term’s first guest speakers at their education and character development event.
Her compassion for others does not stop there, during the month of October on #WorldMentalHealthDay , Kuukua shared a short film on Instagram to raise awareness by documenting people in her community about what makes them happy. The project received great feedback from her followers and she continues to blaze a trail of excellence. But, what makes Kuukua happy? With a certain exuberance in her voice, her response to that question during the interview was ‘Human connection, poetry, being able to create and learning from my mistakes makes me very happy.’
A Message to YOU
“ Self Identity can be confusing because sometimes you don’t know who you are as yet. The most important thing is to stay true to yourself by searching the core of your heart as often as possible, rather than to compare yourself to others to find yourself. Maybe you will never get to the finish line today, but believe in your process — your life cannot be defined in somebody else’s path.”
Interesting Fun Facts about Kuukua :
- She is obsessed with science fiction movies! I think she’d enjoy taking a ride in the famous 1967 Chevy Impala from the Supernatural series.
- She has a pretzel-like flexibility to do a prayer sign behind her back! Momma did good with those Bible stories.
- She does not have a favorite color or food, she strongly believes that everything is equal.
4. She speaks several languages that include English, Fante, French, Twi.
5. Her favorite poets are all the women who write from the depths of their soul. Every woman who writes from pain, sorrow, happiness, and even fear. Especially women who grew up climbing trees.
6. Her favorite words are pure and beautiful. She would use these words to describe a person or a moment. One such moment was during a teaching session with Zelda Books; a literacy organization that collaborated with Boxed Kids. In this session, the children were asked to write metaphors and one of the kids response was, ‘my mother is as beautiful as time’. Kuukua described the moment as the purest thing ever.
7. If she had a day to spend with a person that influences her, she would spend the day with Michelle Obama.
8. Do not book her to sing at your event ( sshh she can’t hold a note to save her life ) but book her to grace the lens of your photoshoot because she’s a fabulous model.
9. She believes that once you are happy, you are successful.
10. If you ever get the opportunity to meet her in person, a lunch date to an all you can eat buffet is a perf way to start a lasting journey ( she’s a foodie) and once your energy is right — she will be a friend to the end.
Love & Light