Out of Africa

Two Ghana natives chronicle a continent few know about

Still, serious financial challenges remain. Owusu and Biney did not finance the magazine through a bank, choosing instead to pay for the first issues themselves. As they prepare their fifth issue, the directors also are seeking more advertising. "We chipped in our few pennies and exhausted our resources in a matter of a month," Owusu says. "We are hoping subscribers and advertisers respond."

Most of the advertising is now local; Owusu says they intend to reach out to national advertisers in the near future.

So far, the two print 1,000 copies per issue, but Owusu says he expects circulation to grow quickly. The magazines are distributed in several outlets across the Metroplex, including Black Images bookstore, Home Food Markets, and Sahara Foodstore. There are also distributors elsewhere, including California, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Canada, and Germany. The publication is not, however, distributed in Ghana.

The journalists spend the bulk of their money on printing costs. Metro Printers in Arlington prints the magazine.

All the writers were found through various African organizations. Biney met Ayittey through the latter's founding of Free Africa, a pan-Africanist organization dedicated to unifying Africans with the African diaspora. Kwesi Pratt, who comprises the magazine's West Africa bureau, edits a Ghanian newspaper, and Napolean Abdulai, the London bureau chief, writes for a magazine there.

Biney also recruited writers he felt had special expertise in technology, politics, and social issues.

"Technology is definitely my issue," says Kwabena Osei-Boaten. "I know Charles likes to deal with women's issues. Eric is more of an entertainment writer."

Osei-Boaten, a Dallas computer network engineer, says he believes his articles, while heavily focusing on technology, have widespread appeal. "Even though it's technology, I try to reach anybody who can read on an eighth-grade level, the person on the street."

The journalists work mostly from their homes; the international writers submit their work by fax. The local writers and editors meet periodically in the offices of Owusu's company to talk about content and format. The publication also runs International Press Service wire stories downloaded from the Internet.

So far, the magazine is not well-known; most sales come from people who stumble across it in the few spots that carry it or are families, friends and acquaintances of the people who produce it.

Yet the founders see their potential readership as multicultural. Whites and other ethnic groups are as likely to glean valuable information about African countries as is the African diaspora, they say.

While the magazine focuses on every country in Africa, the men's homeland of Ghana inspired the product. The ancient and medieval West African kingdom, although rich in gold, diamonds and manganese, is tense and poor under the military rule of J.J. Rawlings. In May, Rawlings reportedly cracked down on demonstrators protesting economic conditions in the country. Biney says it was the relatively positive image of Ghana surfacing in American reports that convinced him to produce the magazine.

"The white press are pawns," Owusu says. "They point at Ghana as a symbol of success in Africa. But at the same time, you have 100,000 people in the streets, crying for redemption."

Both Biney and Owusu left Ghana for the United States in their early 20s to attend college. They met here through various social organizations in their small Ghanian community in the Metroplex. (Biney says it numbers about 1,000.) Biney's first attempt at publishing was the Ghana Star, a newsletter aimed at the community. But that venture ended in failure because the majority of people who signed up to contribute didn't.

"It takes a lot of work to put a magazine together," he says. "They were not willing to sacrifice to put it in print. It's apathy."

Now, the men cultivate a small cadre of dedicated contributors and watch the magazine's bottom line as carefully as they watch developments in their homeland.

"All we are doing is pursuing a dream," Owusu says. "If what we have written can touch some hearts and change some minds, then we will feel we have fulfilled a dream.

« Previous Page
My Voice Nation Help