Afracanah, as put by the creators, is a podcast brought by Kenya’s favorite “girl children”. Curious to know what the fuss is all about, we decided to sit over a Skype conversation to get to know the duo and talk about their project that’s sparking conversation in the continent as well as overseas. Meet Adedana and Nomusa.
How did the idea of a podcast come about?
ADEDANA (29): We met at a wedding of March of last year. We were at the same table, a group of us were talking and I allegedly said something funny and I made a joke – and that was the beginning of her finding me entertaining and our podcast potentially being an option. And then few weeks later, she had me over for a Easter and I don’t know after a few more jokes and conversations she turned around to me and said: “You and I need a podcast!” and I was like, oh okay, fine, people say things but what does that mean? (laughs)
NOMUSA (30): And then we had our first meeting.
ADEDANA: Yes and then we had our first meeting, but the first time we didn’t talk about work, we just talked about life, liberty, pursuit of life and happiness.
NOMUSA: And more jokes!
ADEDANA: More jokes…I learned she had an allergy to carrots and then I think a month after that when we actually had to sit down to think what it is that we want to get out of this idea, what it is that we want to accomplish and want to provide to our listeners and yeah…it’s been since August  now, and here we are!
So it started out sort of like a joke?
A: Yeah, I mean we immediately had a good back & forth, and I have always been interested in media and have applied previously to different journalism things- new media and journalism is not too far from my sphere of interest, so for me it was a really good way to combine things that I already liked. Also we both listen to podcasts, and I think that was part of our interest as well.
If I got it right from your podcasts. You ladies are originally from the US, but are now expats in Nairobi?
N: So I’m South African, grew up in Canada and now live in Nairobi…and Adedana is Ethiopian heritage, grew up in the States and now lives in Nairobi.
And how come you moved to Nairobi?
N: Yeah, good question. I moved to Nairobi, 6 years ago and that’s the longest place that I lived in my adult life…I moved for work..but I’ve lived in Southern Africa, Eastern Africa for the past 12 years.
A: I moved here 3 years ago, and I came for work and in my case, it was supposed to be a short term role, which kinda of grew and expanded, and 3 years later I’m still here. I was supposed to be here for three months- it’s funny how life works out sometimes.
I see from what you talk about in your podcasts that topics often bounces between what’s happening in the diaspora, for example, the experiences that you have had in the US as well as what’s happening in Nairobi – can you explain the choice to do it like this?
A: So yeah, also what really informs the podcast is our WhatsApp conversations originally and more importantly, our podcasts are centered around our lives and our lived experiences. And so, while we talk quite a bit about what’s going in Kenya, we really did wanna make how to be more dialectic about the diasporic experience and as we grow we are starting be able to do that in interviews, so not just talking about our lives in Kenya,our lives in Canada and the United States but really using the platform to invite a conversation that’s much broader than Kenya and North America and so it’s kind of like one piece of that.
N: Sure, I think that part of it is that we care about different places, I mean, I live here but I also very much care about what’s happening at home and also very much care about what’s happening here in Kenya, what’s happening in Ethiopia and across the continent as well. So I guess we both have a Pan-African kind of interest and so hopefully with time we can get different perspectives because we both realized we are from North America and there’s diaspora in all kinds of places, in Europe, in Asia etc…so hopefully overtime we can do a better job of expanding kind of what you know, who we can cover and some of the experience we can picture but for now I think, it’s very much around the things that we like and find funny or concerning us. And also somethings are not just not that different, yes of course there are key differences between the two worlds that we grew up in and are living in now but I don’t know, we are all people just trying to figure out things in life –
A: – things like gender!
N: And yes, that’s a pretty universal struggle.
What would you say is your aim with the podcast?
N: So we really want to provide a platform for people who are doing really great things across the continent, mainly young people, young women, who are building things, who are shaping things that you otherwise wouldn’t know about them – that’s a really key component of what it is that we are trying to do. Yes, of course, we wanna sell jokes and we can do over our interviews and such but I think you’ll see that, there are 3 more interviews coming up, shortly, and we had 10 featured guests so far, and we just want to do a better job showing what people are doing and building. Also we are trying to be aware of the fact that a lot is here in Nairobi but there’s a lot more happening in Kenya and so with time and hopefully with better technology and equipment we can kind of expand and do our interviews on those places and yeah, we’ll see.
How do you choose your topics? Is it over conversations or does it involve proper planning and researching?
N: So Adedana and I, we spend quite a bit of time doing the end to end of the podcast, so we have a day that we script, normally that’s Mondays, after work, and we go through what we roughly are looking to talk about and we set up the interview if that needs to happen and then we also go back and forth like OK what is the series that we want to talk about. We talk about everything, about what is up to in technology and we have stuff coming up on mental health, as well as an episode on financial planning, but it’s really the major themes in both of our lives that we think has value for other people, in particularly young women in the diaspora to know and to listen to.
A: I think also when we first started we talked about all the several things that mattered to us and started thinking through a guest list..and I think we are still going through that guest list. So we’ll see, with time and kind of chop what topics we go through the list, what comes out of that but we’re not on that stage yet. But in terms of an actual episode, there are certain segments that we plan for, so the Afracanah … for the week, the Africa rising and still rising, the catch up section that we talk about things that have happened since we last recorded. Those are planned things because we have to know the things that we are saying.
What about “Episode 2: getting a job or being hit on?” I was wondering if that ever happened to one of you?
N: WELL (laughs) I’ve definitely been in a situation like that…well that episode is very based on true life events, but definitely I’ve been in situations where it made me feel uncomfortable and unprofessional environment because I am a young woman working with quite older, male and senior people…
A: And I think, in my case it was a situation that nothing was said to the point that that person would be seen in trouble…but your gut and your intuition tells you that there’s something else on the table but it’s not being verbally expressed because that would perhaps A: ruin everything, or B: no one can get in trouble because it’s nothing that’s been actually said. So a lot that we discuss in the podcast is that there’s this timeline where you think you know it’s happening but what’s actually been said and you kinda have to go on with what’s being said so no one gets hurt because it’s easier to get away with something that’s not explicitly put out there and said. So I think many women working have been in situations where, nothing has been said but they felt like something was there and you have to kind of figure out how you want to deal with it.
What motivates you to do this podcast every week?
N: Well I think just highlight different voices of diaspora women, and have a very different outlook on the world- creating a platform for people we think should be getting a bit more support in things that they do. There weren’t many podcast highlighting experiences of women in the continent. And yes using a new media on the continent that a lot of people haven’t considered.
What is the vision of Afracanah for the future?
A: We want to be able to monetize and be able to pay for it, selling merchandize or through advertisement. Do a live show in Nairobi, In Lagos. I think having a team- revenue helps with that – just focus on the content and bring it out to our listeners as fast as we can.
N: To be accessible to a whole new scale of listeners- more interviews with our variety of people in particular young woman and get Beyonce on the podcast- hopefully she’s reading Ayiba!