It means different things to be a woman in different parts of the world. For women moving from the Diaspora to their home countries in Africa, it quickly becomes evident how wide that variance can be. Abena Boamah, founder of Hanahana Beauty held an event last month at Teranga (in the Africa Center) East Harlem.

Over a deliciously prepared pan-African dinner – complete with jollof rice – a room full of women (and a few men) gathered to hear from Maame Adjei of An African City, Essie Bartels of Essie Spice, creative Stephanie Nnamani, and fashion designer Archel Bernard.

Here is what they had to say about black womanhood in:

Liberia

Archel Bernard has the uncanny ability to make an entire room roar with laughter simply by speaking her truth. She discussed the challenges of living and doing business in the world’s poorest country – while articulating the challenges of building industry and relationships in a post-war and post-ebola society.

Being a woman involves wearing every hat. We are the breadwinners, but we also bake the bread.

– Archel Bernard

Ghana

As a woman trying to create something and build a business in Ghana, Maame Adjei has learned that the once abstract notion of ‘the patriarchy’ is very real. However, tapping into the strength of the African women she saw around her who were economy builders at every level in Ghana, pushed her in a way she had never been pushed working a 9-5 in the U.S.

Moving back to Ghana has helped me become stronger and understand the power I yield as a woman.

– Maame Adjei

Abena left New York City for Ghana where she is building her beauty brand Hanahana, using 100% natural ingredients sourced from Ghanaian women. She created the event as part of a larger speaker series. This edition explored the concept of moving ‘back home’ and what that means for those born and/or raised in the Diaspora.

Trust your intuition especially when it comes to working with people. Though people may use your femininity as a limitation, use it as power. 

– Abena Boamah

Nigeria

Stephanie Nnamani speaks in the most beautiful prose. Throughout the panel it was evident that the stories of her family, fellow country people and ancestors walk with and through her. After years in America unable to visit her home country of Nigeria, she recently returned and captures stunning portraits of everyday Nigerians in the mundanities of daily life, in addition to other creative works – almost as if to make up for the many moments she’d missed.

The girl child and the boy child are not treated in the same way. This was taught to me by the example of another woman… At the same time, the Nigerian family is sustained by the matriarch… I am willing to tap into the power that women already have, while still making minor adjustments were needed.

– Stephanie Nnamani