Is Sandra Appiah ashamed to be African? Not anymore, but she used to be! Growing up in the Bronx in the United States, Sandra suffered mentally and emotionally as a result of racism from her African-American kin who were downright abusive. So intense was the ridicule that she resorted to lying as a shield; lying that she wasn’t African and burying her Ghanaian roots as deep under as she could. That was then.
A visit to Ghana during her tertiary years at the Syracuse University set her straight on that score. The Graduate of Film and Television with honors from the Newhouse School of Public Communications and extensive experience working with companies such as the New York Times, HBO, and MTV is not just proudly African, but she is on a mission to set the record straight for other Africans in the diaspora and portray a different image of Africa than the one her playmates acted on all those years ago.
Why does the western world seem to believe that Africa is a country of tree-climbers? Sandra shared her two cents in an interview on newsone.com.
“CNN, PBS, all these documentaries, this is how they portray Africa. So in their [African-Americans’] mind-set, this is the only way they know Africa to be.”
Although Sandra had Hollywood in her sights, the very real challenges she encountered steered her on a different path and thus, adversity birthed greatness. She co-founded Face 2 Face Africa, a media company in March 2011 with Isaac Boateng and launched its flagship online magazine F2FA without any financial support or investment. In fact Sandra is a firm believer that you don’t need capital to start-up. “Utilize social media to get your idea in the public space, let it gather momentum, and resources will come,” she says.
The drive behind establishing Face 2 Face Africa was unequivocal. She explained,
“Unless we change that perception and we present another side of Africa, that will constantly be the way that Africa is viewed. We felt that there’s a need for a platform that will bridge the gap; that will remind us of our common ancestry…”
Named as one of Forbes 30 Under 30 Entrepreneurs in Africa, Sandra feels validated and appreciative of the fact that people are paying attention. She also acknowledges that though the journey has been long, receiving such recognition puts pressure on them to work harder to fill the big shoes they have been thrust into.
The first print version of the F2FA Magazine was published with pomp in December 2013 and copies can be purchased here.
An eponymous show is also in the works where Sandra hopes to bring the diaspora to Africa and vice versa. According to her,
“I am not ashamed to say that I grew up ashamed to be African, but that has changed and I want diasporans of African descent to break free of the detrimental perception of Africa and Africans that they have held onto. I would love anyone who portrays Africa in a positive light to be on my show.
Sandra’s Face2 Face Africa seems to resonate with Konnect Africa’s goals only we are doing it from the Africans in Africa perspective. With this many people working on the new African reality, change, positive, wholesome change is surely here to stay.
What part are you playing? Do share in the comments section below.
“ostracized by African-Americans in the United States…” –ALL African Americans…really? SEE–such statements not completely true and cause divisiveness–does harm to Pan African efforts.
Appiah must have had insecurities and self-esteem issues prior to her travels to the U.S. I am on the ground in Ghana –and I hear the skin tone debates, see skin bleaching, and the Western and European television images “continental African” youth are trying to emulate.
You have a point, KMM. Many thanks for your comment. We will keep this in mind as we continue to tell Africa’s success stories. Cheers.