ONUA X ECLECTIC KYEIESSA
ONUA caught up with the beautiful and talented illustrator and educator Vanessa Danso also known as Eclectic Kyeiessa. In the last few years, she has taken the internet by storm by breaking down the Ghanaian and African culture in bitesize interactive illustrative videos. Read on below.
[ONUA] So Vanessa, tell us a little bit about yourself ?
Vanessa: My name is Vanessa Danso and I’m actually a medical student surprisingly! I know it may seem a bit odd, a medical student with a huge affinity for history, culture and graphic design but here I am! We do exist (laughs). By day I work in a family practice office where I have my own consultation hours. During these consultations, I manage patients with diabetes, cardiovascular problems, hypertension, hyperlipidemia and renal dysfunctions. Furthermore, I also manage asthmatic patients amongst people with other diagnoses. So, in a nutshell, you could say I’m pretty busy. Then, after working hours, I’m a digital graphic designer. I make it my business to resurface the culture that is disappearing by putting it into an appealing, engaging and interactive package so people would want to watch it.
[ONUA] What does your culture mean to you in this day and age? And how does it influence you as a person?
Vanessa: That’s quite a broad question (smiles) but I will try to keep it short. With each passing day, my love for my culture grows and grows. With each passing day, my awareness towards my culture increases. In this day and age, we can't deny that “going through life African-ish” has become the popular thing to do and/or be. And I’m not going to lie, a few years back I was among the huge crowd that found it to be incredibly “lit” to be African without truly knowing what it meant. Over the years, after diving into piles of literature, reading through history books, listening to elderly people, I realised that being “African” is more than just having the DNA that proves that you are. It’s also about the state of mind, it’s about the awareness, it supersedes the outer appearance of wearing Kente, wearing dashiki’s, growing afro’s, listening to afro beat. It is about the why and not necessarily about the what. It has been a learning process that has taken time. I’m surely not on the same awareness level yet as many of our iconic pan-Africanist forefathers were, but I’m growing. That is how I realise that the people who enjoy my work may not necessarily be on the same level of awareness that I am, so I make it my business to get them to that point, one video at a time.
[ONUA] What is your favourite Adinkra symbol?
Vanessa: My favourite Adinkra symbol is the Dwennimmen symbol. It stands for humility and strength. I wholeheartedly believe in this. In order to make it in life, being acknowledged for what you do, to be respected for who you are, and to be great, you need to be humble. There is a certain grace that comes with humility. I find it extremely beautiful. And as for strength, well, it is no mystery that this world is very hard and it takes strength not to give up, giving up is easy, relaxing is easy, but nothing comes to you when you don’t have the strength to make the decision to do something else, to go another direction that will benefit you. I definitely did not acquire strength overnight, it is a learning process, but it surely isn't impossible.
[ONUA] How does the above help you in your chosen career?
Vanessa: I must confess that they do remain 2 separate worlds still. I dreamt of being a physician ever since I was a little girl, I never thought I would find something else so much fun so many years later. At this point, both careers do not influence each other. But in the future, I do see that happening since I’m studying integrative medicine. Which stands on the philosophy that the body is an exquisite machine that is capable of healing itself when you give it the right products and provide it with the right environment. In the future, I do see myself implementing this back in our homeland Ghana. Life expectancy was quite high back in the days when our former generations were not exposed to the horrible food we call nutrients todays. But it’s a gradual process and even I am still guilty of indulging myself in the wrong types of food. Sometimes I just can’t help it (smiles)!
[ONUA] What is your favourite dish?
Vanessa: I would say fufu, oh my days! I could eat fufu 5 days a week. But I must say, I love kontomere too. Kontomere is spinach stew with yam or plantain. Yes, I would say those are my favourites. Oh and rice balls with peanut soup. Okay i'm done now! I could ramble on forever when it comes to food (laughs).