Ghanaian Afro-pop, dancehall, and reggae artiste Stonebwoy have urged African and Caribbean states to join hands to confront common challenges, strengthen historical and cultural ties and build socio-economic and political linkages as one region.
According to Stonebwoy the commonalities between the historical and present-day struggles between the two regions should spur a deepening of cooperation in strengthening trade and investment and sharing expertise and knowledge amongst others.
Speaking at WoodxWatta, Ghana’s newest Afro-Caribbean festival’s inaugural business brunch at the Design Mix Hub, Osu. he said “I have had a fair share of criticism and discrimination from the Caribbean as a dancehall act from Africa sounding like a Jamaican but forgetting we are connected. There is a great need for deeper collaborations to help build ourselves as a united front to conquer the world in all aspects”.
“I think we the Africans embrace the Caribbean more and the Caribbean hardly embraces the African base on my experiences with Jamaicans. And this greatly explains why there is no direct flight from Africa to the Caribbean states,” he added.
The first Honorary Consul of Jamaica to Ghana Mr. Isaac Emmil Osei-Bonsu, in his address, said the African Caribbean must start trading with each other by increasing investment and people-to-people exchanges.
“According to my checks 95% of trade out of the Caribbean went up north; USA, Canada, and 5% goes down south. Almost nothing comes here in Africa. I think conversations like this need to be broadened by engaging ourselves on decisions to restructure the two regions to explore the enormous opportunity” he said.
Deputy Director of Diaspora Affairs, Nadia Musa on her part urged the diasporans to explore the opportunity to invest in the Ghanaian economy to support the country’s industrialization drive.
She indicated that diaspora investment was essential for industrialization and consequently the development of the nation. The event was aimed at connecting the Future of Africa and the Caribbean on issues including trade, investment, culture, entertainment, and many more.
The Wood and Watta Business Brunch organized by Ford Communication and the office of the Diaspora Affairs is the kick-off Afro-Caribbean event that highlights the investment and trade opportunities between the Caribbean and Ghana, from technology to culture and real estate.
The event was hosted by Managing Director, Ford Communications Lakeshia Ford with selected six (6) business magnates as panelists including, Tenille Clarke, CEO of Chambers Media Solutions; Ray Klein, COO, Republic Bank, Benewaah Boateng, Manager of Spotify Africa, Sandy Alibo, founder of Surf Ghana, Leticia Browne, Zeepay Head of Market, Inclusion & Advocacy, Ivie Ani, culture writer for Amazon Music, and special guest Stonebwoy.
WoodxWatta, a two-day Afro-Caribbean festival, kicked off with a Business Brunch on Monday, December 26, and featured two-panel discussions focused on culture and business with some of the industry’s top representatives, and closed with a tete-a-tete conversation with Ghanaian Dancehall Artist Stonebwoy and renowned Nigerian-American culture journalist Ivie Ani.
The brunch, which was organized by Ford Communications in partnership with Ghana’s Office of Diaspora Affairs, had a programme lineup that included panel discussions with culture and business visionaries from across the diaspora, live DJs, an interactive Afro-Caribbean brunch featuring an authentic Jamaican menu, and networking opportunities. The discussions focused on the long-term Afro-Caribbean visions of culture, technology, real estate, trade, and mutual investment potential.
The business brunch invited the visiting diaspora and Ghanaian investors to shift their focus to the collaborative future of Ghana and the Caribbean; and unlock industry, trade, and investment opportunities between the two regions.
WoodxWatta will conclude the “December in Ghana” activities on January 4 with a proper bashment at luxury venue The Underbridge in East Legon. More than just a party, this culturally immersive experience will celebrate the possibilities of our shared futures and the collective liberation of the Black diaspora through Dancehall and Afrobeats. Patrons can expect sounds from renowned DJ and producer Blaq Pages and others, as well as surprise appearances.
“Whether its homecoming or December in Ghana, we travel and gather – celebrate and party, but I think a lot is left on the table when we’re not engaging each other on the economic front,” says founder Lakeisha Ford. “WoodXWatta is about deepening and expanding our connection to create the future we want to see for ourselves.
“There is more than $1 Billion in trade and export potential between Africa and the Caribbean. We are anchored by our cultural connection, but it’s time for emerging markets to start collaborating, economically. This festival is the answer to that call for the Caribbean and Ghana, and Africa, at large.”
WoodxWatta is officially sponsored by Zeepay, Travel Deeper, Republic Bank, and Jameson. The festival is endorsed by the Consulate of Jamaica, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, the Office of Diaspora Affairs, and Beyond the Return with collaborative support from Chambers Media and Oaccess Jamaica. Stay tuned for more announcements on lineup, programming, and more.