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Kwesi Arthur. Photo: Amarachi Nwosu. Styled by Joey Lit.

Kwesi Arthur, Ghana's King of the Youth, Wants to Take African Hip-Hop Global

We talk to Kwesi Arthur about his story and taking Ghana to the world through music.

I'm with Kwesi Arthur headed to a local gas station in Accra before his set at Afrochella, one of Ghana's biggest music festivals. We link up with a gang of bikers doing wheelies with four wheelers and dirt bikes. All the attention is on Kwesi as he catches up with the bikers like old friends. This almost feels like North Philadelphia.

While most artists start a festival set by simply walking on stage, Kwesi is committed to giving his fans something special. He and the group of 10 bikers enter the event gates to head straight to the stage pit and into the festival. People greet him and immediately flock, from fans to friends, before he starts his set with his latest release, "African Girl."

The crowd screams in excitement and sings the lyrics word for word although the song was only released a few weeks prior, an illustration of Kwesi's immense impact on Ghanaian youth culture.

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Photo by Amarachi Nwosu.

In Conversation: Ebonee Davis on Going to Ghana To Reconnect with Her History and Her Greater Sense of Self

"From this trip I have a more expanded idea of who I am, who I can be and what is possible for me."

The internet has played a huge role as a space for the narrative and perceptions of Africa to transform and has allowed people to see the perspectives of the continent directly from Africans. While this has sparked interest in African music, dance and food to name a few, not many folks within the diaspora have returned to see it for themselves due to negative stereotypes often perpetuated in western society. While this could deter many from going, model, author and actor Ebonee Davis saw this as a prime opportunity to lead by example and visit Ghana for the first time to reconnect with her roots.

A force in entertainment and fashion with campaigns for brands including Calvin Klein to Fendi under her belt, Davis understands the power of media and how it plays a major role in how we see our identity and how we connect with places outside of our comfort zone. This has been a major reason why she's used her voice to spread messages bigger than herself and to be part of the dialogue on diversity and even mental health. For Davis, visiting Ghana on the anniversary marking the start of 400 years of slavery was important to not only understand herself and her connection to the motherland—but to also show others that they too can come to Africa and feel right at home.

I spoke with Ebonee Davis about her trip to Ghana, her initial reactions and how she feels the fashion and entertainment industries can play a role in transforming narratives on the continent. Here's our conversation below.

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Photo courtesy of Ayana Zaire.

Style Dimension: Ayana Zaire Is Using Her Brand To Study the Link Between Labor & Black Women

"I am not in the business of changing the 'black narrative,' nor do I want to be. I am simply adding to the conversation, chiming in with my two cents."

Style Dimension is OkayAfrica's seven-part series highlighting emerging designers from Africa and its diaspora. Along with giving you a glimpse of each designer's stunning work, this series is an introduction into their creative realm. In the seventh and last edition of the series, meet the mind behind Zaire Studio, Ayana Zaire.

While most people approach design primarily through an aesthetics standpoint, Ayana Zaire believes the core of style lies in researching and exploring the past to get a deeper understanding of the now. Born and raised in the DMV (D.C., Maryland and Virginia area), one of her biggest goals was to bring a unique creative energy to the city.

As the designer under her label Zaire Studio, she has done this through producing collections that focus on research on post-work societies and communication. Her original inspiration for the brand was wanting an experimental space and creative vessel to research, craft and publish her ideas seasonally. This led to her employer, who owned a shop in D.C. called Redeem, supporting her and allowing her to use the store as a launching pad to get people aware of her designs.

Her debut collection, Our Future, focused on workwear and its relationship with capitalism and the human condition. With Zaire's latest drop, her exploration of workwear continues though the POW-EROTICA collection that was inspired by the essay "Use of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power" by critically acclaimed poet, Audre Lorde. Using reconstructed menswear pieces like oxfords, suiting and outerwear; mixed with feminine staples like bodysuits and dancer uniforms, she seeks to create a harmony using both feminine and masculine styles.

I spoke with Ayana Zaire on her African-American heritage as inspiration and how she wants to shift the fashion landscape through her brand.

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