In conversation with

Maame Adjei

Producer Girl Going Places, Actor An African City, Writer

Introduction

Introduction

We first met Maame on a trip to Ghana for the travel magazine SUITCASE. A rising star in Accra, she had just finished playing Zeinab on An African City, a show dubbed Ghana’s version of Sex and The City. It was hailed as one of the first shows to nail a nuanced depiction of the modern African woman and recent returnee (someone who have returned to Africa after living abroad) and celebrated for showing a different, more fabulous side of Accra. Since then, Maame has dedicated her energy to changing the “single story” of Africa in her own way. Her web series, Girl Going Places, aims to encourage internal travel by exploring beautiful places on the continent while her instagram is a treasure trove of people, places, and designers from Ghana and beyond.

Question and Answer

What stories do you remember reading as a child?

I read a lot of Nancy Drew. I was slightly obsessed with her detective ways and it’s definitely crossed over into my adult life. I still love fictional books that unravel a mystery especially those wrapped in the law (so I love John Grisham. He’s excellent for a bit of courtroom drama.

Were there any particular magazines that spoke to you while you were growing up?

There was a magazine called Right On which was basically what social media is today. It had interviews, pictures and pull out posters on most black celebrities. It was a must have to get the posters. I miss that. I love social media but a lot of childhood memories are now stuck in a cloud somewhere.

Can you talk us through your decision to move home to Ghana after going through university in the US?

I loved the States and I think out of all the places I’ve lived it really was my forming ground. I moved there when I was 17 and stayed for over a decade so you can say I became a woman there. At a certain point I started to feel stagnant and uninspired. I would even say unhappy. I came to Ghana for a 2 week vacation and by the time I was leaving I knew I had to move back home. It was really one of those “universe” collaborating for your good moments. Because I had no concrete plans on what my life in Ghana would look like but I was sure it was time for me to return. It was absolutely the best decision.

Why do you think an African City struck a chord with so women of the African diaspora?

It’s such a niche group and what you find is that a lot of small groups never get to see their unique stories told on screen. So I think An African City tapped into a group of people that existed all over the world. They were finally seeing a semblance of their intricacies, stories and characteristics on screen.

“An African City tapped into a group of people that existed all over the world. They were finally seeing a semblance of their intricacies, stories and characteristics on screen.”

What do you hope viewers took from your character, Zainab?

That you can be a strong minded, opinionated business owner and still be vulnerable and yearn for love and need a tribe of woman to support you. I think a lot of times woman feel like they have to be one or the other: CEO or woman. Know you can be both with all the warmth and love that women are intrinsically built with. And that is absolutely okay.

Are there particular authors that you think really capture what it means to be a woman in Africa today?

Of course Chimamanda Adichie is such a strong voice for African women right now. I also like what Nnedi Okorafor (Author of Binti, Who Fears Death, Zahrah the Windseeker, Akata Witch) is doing. Her work is sci-fi but rooted in our culture and traditions.

Three books you would give to a friend?

Winnie Mandela – A part of my soul went with him

Toni Morrison – The Bluest Eye

Yaa Gyasi – Homegoing

What story are you hoping to tell with your new series, Girl Going Places?

That the continent is as viable a travel destination as any part of the world and it’s imperative that those of us from or connected to the continent explore it and share its beauty with the world.

What do you think makes a good travel story?

Authenticity and the travellers experience within the space. It’s not just about the location it’s about how it moves you and shifts your ideas and perceptions.

What are you favourite magazines coming out of Ghana right now?

I like Signatures magazine. They really focus on creative industries and the continent in a unique, forward thinking way.

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