To answer the question of challenges and barriers to creating change in my community, I first need to define what my community is. In terms of being an activist for social and economic change, my community has been primarily in Mali, West Africa for the last 14 years with shorter projects in Guatemala, Mexico, Rwanda and now Cameroon.
As a nomad and a connector, my community includes people from rural villages in Africa and Central America to those from cities of Africa, Europe and North America. My nomadism means mobility with purpose. I move around the world to have direct experiences and exchanges with the many individuals I meet along the way. I then share a certain perspective with those who do not have the opportunity to have such experience with different cultures.
As a social activist, educator, translator, business consultant, project manager, musician, dancer and performing artist, I interact with all strata of society from men, women and children in rural areas and cities to government officials at the municipal and national level. Thanks to my bass playing, I have been fortunate to perform with world famous artists. These musicians see how I love and want to help their country with my skills and network. They often support my social and economic change projects with their name recognition, their time and their musical and financial resources.
Oftentimes as the only female bass player that many of these people have seen, I find that the music and dance allows me almost instant access into the local culture. Whatever barriers there may be initially melt away with the healing sounds. This ability to connect through music, together with a stamina for meeting new people and listening to their stories inspires and encourages women and girls to dream of new possibilities.
The biggest challenge of this inquisitive and creative approach is to get people to recognize that options exist. When a mother is worried about getting the next meal for her family, there is not much mental, emotional and creative space to wonder and imagine. Another barrier is the difficulty in getting real and accurate information about someone’s life situation. If the underlying facts and realities are not clear, it is much more challenging to identify and help think through the various options.
I have found that one of the most effective ways for me to be in the world and inspire others to follow their own path, is to do what I love and be a model for all to see and experience. I do this while offering an infusion of energy into my community. By using online communities like World Pulse, we can focus a spotlight on how women are empowered as creators of culture and music. It is time to bring these women to the forefront and let them shine for all to see and hear!