Champion For Culture: Muna Lobé
Rootencial is delighted to introduce Muna Lobé, the founder of a creative consulting firm, AYA Consulting. Muna is a fierce advocate of the arts, with roots in Ghana, Cameroon and Guadeloupe, a French Caribbean island in the West Indies. She tells us about the journey to creating her business and unlocking her passion. Having been raised in a family of artists and creatives deeply devoted to advancing the cause of cultural engagement, Muna’s love for art fast blossomed.
Both as an adolescent and adult, she’s traveled and worked across regions, including Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean, before deciding to launch her own business. “I’m actually an anthropologist by training,” Muna says, “so obviously travel and culture are at the very root of my deciding to launch AYA and pursue this career. I’ve always been very into observing, understanding and recording the intricacies of our social and cultural behaviours. It’s given me a sort of attitude, a foundation for my work. My upbringing, my experiences as a traveler, as a nomad, have played a key role.”
Your identity is your wealth, so know it. For you to venture out into the world, you have to know where you come from, where you stand, and where the people that preceded you have stood… Your identity is your passport to understand the world. It’s very important to learn about yourself in a way that is accepting and whole to understand the complexities of your identity, but also its evolving nature. Identity is not static, it changes, it moves.
AYA is different to most other consulting firms; Muna works directly with artists, art practitioners and art institutions – in particular those from Africa, the Caribbean, or the diaspora – to showcase and promote the diversity and richness of these artistic and creative forms. She’s passionate about making sure people are informed about the African, Caribbean and Afro-descendant storytellers behind cultural forms of significance; to bringing greater visibility to their vital contributions. Muna’s own identity, at the intersection and interaction of these different regions of the globe, has had a deep impact on her work. “Your identity is your wealth, so know it. For you to venture out into the world, you have to know where you come from, where you stand, and where the people that preceded you have stood… Your identity is your passport to understand the world. It’s very important to learn about yourself in a way that is accepting and whole to understand the complexities of your identity, but also its evolving nature. Identity is not static, it changes, it moves.”
Muna supports a remarkably diverse array of initiatives and projects. Throughout 2018, AYA Consulting is convening four different “MasterClasses” – bringing together the creatively curious and innovative visual narrators who wish to enhance their storytelling skills through a variety of different media. The four hosts are all seasoned female creative professionals, each of whom has a relationship with the complex realities of the African continent, the Caribbean and the diaspora. The Master Classes explore topics such as the curation of cultural events, the construction of visual narratives in dance, and black and women-led fictional narratives.
She has a bold vision for AYA moving forward. “I want AYA to position itself in such a way that we foster and encourage creativity, projects that allow creatives to provide the world with something important, the things we fight for – politically, ideologically, creatively and artistically. In the long-run, I see AYA as a hub, space, network, laboratory or think tank, where people come together to create. It’s not just for the sake of art or culture; but also for us to engage with important issues, be they gender rights, injustice, inequality, poverty alleviation; everything that is important, especially for people of African and Caribbean heritage. Art allows us to become the actors of our present and future.”
MY DAUGHTER IS SUN, WHICH IS THE MEANING OF HER FIRST NAME; SHE IS LOVE, WHICH IS CONNECTED TO THE MEANING OF HER MIDDLE NAME, AND TO ME SHE’S HOPE – SHE MAKES ME BELIEVE IN OUR WORLD AND IN PEOPLE, IN ACHIEVING MORE, IN PURSUING YOUR DREAMS… GIVING LIFE FOR ME HAS BEEN OUT OF THIS WORLD, IT’S TRANSFORMATIVE. IT’S THE MOST BEAUTIFUL EXPERIENCE I’VE EVER HAD.
Muna is clearly focused on sustainability – she emphasises the importance of cultural and artistic projects surviving beyond temporary trends, and being something that future generations can draw upon and be challenged by. She’s a new mother herself, and says her daughter is the thing she’s most proud of in the world. “My daughter is Sun, which is the meaning of her first name; she is Love, which is connected to the meaning of her middle name, and to me she’s Hope – she makes me believe in our world and in people, in achieving more, in pursuing your dreams… Giving life for me has been out of this world, it’s transformative. It’s the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had.”
I am proud of my freedom of speech, of thought – and I’m unapologetic about it… Be unafraid. Be bold. Challenge yourself. Challenges others. And most important of all, your work, your life, should be fueled by love.
Asked about advice she would share with others, Muna shares a simple but powerful quote, widely attributed to Buddha: “In the end, only three things really matter. How much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of the things not meant for you.” However, she’s adapted the phrase to make it her own, replacing ‘gently’ with ‘passionately.’ “I’m a person with passion, I’m very fiery,” she says. “I am proud of my freedom of speech, of thought – and I’m unapologetic about it… Be unafraid. Be bold. Challenge yourself. Challenge others. And most important of all, your work, your life, should be fueled by love.”