Pleased to have you as our guest for this week on the “Women of Arts” section of mchaymaker.com
Before we start talking extensively, can you kindly tell who you are? I mean your real name, stage name relative to what you do, and what you do as an art in details.
My name is Afia Amoaa Nyamekye Oppong-kwakye. I am known on stage as NativeGirl. I write and perform poetry but once in a while, I act when I get the opportunity.
*When did it all begin for you, and how did it start?
It all began when I was just a girl, in class six, I wrote my first short story which I posted to junior graphic for publication, unfortunately, my short story was not selected. Well, I didn’t give up, I kept on reading a lot of fiction. When I got to the senior high school, I had a diary-like note book in which I wrote my feelings. A friend read it one day and told me I could write poems, though I doubted, I actually started writing for other people to perform. In second year, I started performing some of my poems as a friend encouraged me to also give it a try. Since then, I have been writing and performing my own works and that of other poets.
*What was your inspiration for starting and has it changed over time?
How my friend appreciated my talent was touching, very touching. She believed in me, so much to the extent that, she said poetry will take me to places and true to her words, poetry has taken me to a lot of places in Ghana, especially here in Accra. That inspiration has not changed totally, the writing family or the art family I am part of is also a great inspiration for me.
*How has the journey been so far?
The journey has not been easy but its been amazing so far
*What impact has/is your work had/having on society?
Some of my works preach about issues society tend not to pay much attention to or have completely ignored, talking about such issues is like a reminder or a prompter.
Have you commercialized your arts yet? If yes, how difficult has that been & If no, what are your reasons
Not really, the few times have been kind of very difficult as people do not see the need to handsomely reward a poet who is not really known out there like some of the big catches we know. It is getting a bit easier as Ehalakasa which I happen to be part of is much focused on promoting young artists and making sure due respect is given them in every aspect of the business.
*What is the current state of the arts industry from your perspective as a writer or a poet.
The current state of the art industry is not really good as the people in power who have to push are not doing enough. Some of the mentors we look up to seem to be more concerned about themselves and their benefits, just a handful of them fight to push young and upcoming poets and spokenword artists.
*Are women appreciated in our arts space? Comment extensively if possible on the state of women in arts.
Women are appreciated in our art space just that, there are not enough women in this particular space. However, the few women in here are doing extremely well as poets or spokenword artists. Example
MadaGhana, Apiokor, Poetra Asantewaa, Efua Benumah, Efe, Jo, Nana Yaa FanteGirl, Akuvi and other women are doing amazingly well, just that, there should be a lot more of us in the art space.
*Looking back, do you regret ever embarking on this journey?
Never! This journey has given me a family and a home, this family is shaping me to be a better version of myself. This journey has been a refuge place for me on several occasions. This journey has given me the opportunity to meet a lot of people I only saw on TV or read about in books and the news. I am glad I started this journey and I always thank God.
*Any setbacks in your field of endeavor and how you think it can be overcome?
The only setback is the fact that, most people do not appreciate spokenword artists, treating them with disdain sometimes and not regarding the upcoming ones. I think poets, no matter the level must be appreciated. We all can’t be a Nana Asaase or Chief Moomen, the public should know that, we are different people with different writing and performing style but in the end, we seek to educate, inform, entertain motivate and encourage. And also, I think we as artists should accept criticism in good fate and work on our flaws and also up our game with constant practice and reading wide and also being humble wherever we find our two feet.
*What are the plans going forward for you as an artist?
To be a better version of myself and my art every time I mount the stage and to also empower young women and men through my writings. As the years go buy, I plan to publish some of my works, both in print and online for people all over the world to get access to.
*Any other things you would like the general public to know about women in arts?
The general public should know that women who write about issues relating to women are not men haters. We tend to write well about them because some of us have been there, some of us have sisters, friends etc who have been there and they have shared those stories with us and we want the society to know, in a nutshell, we best tell our stories. Our elders say, the one who has been bitten by a snake is afraid of the worm. If a woman writes about these things, it is because of experience. It is true men are going g through a lot as well, we cannot tell your stories for you, you are the best storyteller. Not all women hate men.
That brings us to the end of another exciting conversation with the NativeGirl, Afia Amoaa Nyamekye Oppong-Kwakye. You can also connect with her on social media via Afia Amoaa Nyamekye Oppong-Kwakye on Facebook.
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