“A black state of mind led me to Queen Afua “
Yesterday was unexpectedly eventful. I was laying in the bed getting ready to walk down to the river for a workout when Kaela called. It’s before Noon, typically I don’t answer calls before noon unless it’s about business or pleasure. I answer and agree to what was being asked. That quick, my day changed and I would be meeting up to assist Kaela on a maternity shoot.
I made it to West End tapped @occasionalsuperstar on the shoulder as he was spraying up a Bob Marley Mural on the side of Mangoes gave him a quick head nod and kept it moving as time was of the essence. I make it Tassilis to meet Kaela. Stood in line for 20 min then hopped in a Uber/Nascar to head to Cascade Nature Reserve. The shoot was another day in the life of a photographer to say the least. Things don’t always play out as they are planned but some how the mission is accomplished. Hearing the sound of two children yelling in pain from the sting of ant bites is enough to wrap up any shoot. I’m sure Kaela captured some great shots you can check her work at @ablackstateofmind.
Now I’m downtown with two plans in mind. One – stop by an art show later that night and Two – get some greenery from my friend that also lived in the vicinity. After Kaela wrapped up the shoot she reminded me of an event that was happening. Queen Afua’s Planet Heal Expo, it wasn’t too far from the park and right around the corner from plan Two, perfect. I’m familiar with events revolving around holistic practices but the presentation was much different from anything I’ve experienced. I didn’t have the full amount on cashapp to get in but they were still kind enough to let me through. Its the little things that make the world go round.
Queen Afua’s strong elegant movements demand your eyes not to blink. Her powerful voice resonates throughout the audience touching each and every women that can relate to the struggles, beauty and pain that are experienced daily.
Uncertain if I was allowed to record photos or video, I took my normal approach. Keep going until someone tells you to stop. When attending this type of event there are consistent similarities that i’ve learned to expect. Informational presentation, dance, group release, group love then finally testimonial is the usual flow.
Queen Afua’s presentation hit all the points in a way I’ve never seen. There were a few approaches that stood out to me. Instead of speaking in lecture form sharing what she has been through she transformed the truths of life into a performance giving you a chance to witness her go through the full motions. As a child i’ve been to a play but this felt new and refreshing. I think Queen Afua’s method of performance really highlights the holistic experiences women have trouble dealing with. Play/stage format gives the audience a chance to feel and absorb each moment. Taking your imagination and sitting it down for a second to take in what is it right in front of your eyes and ears. To hear Queen Afua share her personal honest perspective cuts through, getting directly to a real relatable point.
The mmms coming from the audience let me know what she was saying was being felt deeply. The information was weaved throughout the play showing the process of finding an answer by listening to your intuition.
There was the group love type segment I happened to join in on. She called up about 7 or 8 women and an equal amount of men. I noticed there was a shortage on men but I continued shooting because if I put the camera down then none of it is recorded which I saw as a travesty. It seemed like right after I had that thought Kaela floats in from the shadows behind me. Gracefully relieving my hands as my eyes look up refocusing on her face to see who was taking the camera away.
Queen Afua began by walking up each step asking for forgiveness as well as giving forgiveness to each of us. Once she went up the whole staircase it was our turn to look into each other’s eyes and forgive each other. At this point in my mind I’m taking in the experience but I’m still in videographer mode so I’m hoping Kaela is recording video and not taking photos but I know she is most likely taking photos. Focus … looking into the eyes of young lady standing directly across from me I felt relaxed thinking about how life is so interesting I didn’t plan to be here yet here I am once again, right place right time. Once we finished hugging each other it was our job to go spread the love into the crowd and forgive everyone!
This was unexpected being warped from observer to participant but I felt a bit lighter after. I made my way around the room passing on the hugs to eyes that attracted me most. The forgiving hugs flowed into the next act of the play. The importance of having your sisters with you during hard times to lift you up. She went through a sequence of giving birth even improvising when the “mid wife” was being found. The performance was powerful, impactful and most importantly effective. It’s easier to remember everything when it invokes a feeling you can’t forget.
The Planet Heal Expo wrapped up with a wonderful dance performance. The women in attendance were also given a chance to say their peace and share their experience. I’ll be looking forward to capturing more events with a theatrical approach. A black state of mind led me to Queen Afua.
You can find out more about Queen Afua at https://queenafua.com
Planet Heal is the new book that she will be releasing. Follow @QueenAfua on instagram for daily updates.
Until next time stay focused, Peace – London