SMARTER Leadership Principles For African Youth In The World Of Art

Art influences culture. Over time, societies have experienced the introduction of new language, behaviours, norms and values. Many of these have come about by the expression of societies’ sentiments, through painting, sculpture, music, literature, fashion and the other arts. Societies’ collective memories can be discovered through the arts. Whether art is considered an imitation of life, or life an imitation of art, the importance and impact of the arts cannot be undervalued. 

There is a need to continue to showcase African art in all its forms, it’s contribution to African culture and to global trends. Ghana must keep nurturing its smart, young, talented, creative leaders to partake and ultimately lead in this quest. 

I talk often about SMARTER Leadership (see my concept of SMARTER Leadership at Here, I share what it means to be ‘SMARTER’ in the creative world (of art, fashion, music, writing). If you are an African creative, I share below some SMARTER LeadershipÔbehaviours you can cultivate along your journey to becoming Ghana’s next generation of great leaders in and beyond your field.

SINCERE: – Don’t try to be someone you’re not. As an artist, you may come under the spotlight. You can still engage in showbiz by being yourself, even if a ‘supercharged’ version of yourself. Also, don’t try to follow the flock or do something just because you think it’s a short road to money or fame.

MOTIVATED: – Ghana needs a vibrant youth and YOU need drive to build your future. No one will invest in you if you don’t do the hard work yourself. Be driven, not for the fame, but for the love of the game. The fame will hopefully come as a result of your great work due to the amount of effort and passion you put into it. 

ARTISTIC: – Your individual talents – these are what will bring diversity and show off the richness of the Ghanaian culture. Dare to be different and do different. Ghana needs talent from all areas to build up the nation.

RESILIENT: You’ll face disappointments and meet setbacks if you want to follow your passion. Learn resilience. Understand that your passion or work may not pay in the short term but you’ll be working towards your destiny and future success. TOUGH: Be tough on yourself. You need to be focused and work fast. You also have to sometimes say no, for example to friends, if taking too much time out will stop you from achieving your goals.

EMPATHETIC: Be tolerant of other people’s preferences and choices. Art is highly subjective. 

RESPECTED: Be someone who stands for something. Do the thing you’re good at. Grow in your craft. Remember that with art, there is no standard way. No one can be better than you because every artist’s work and every viewer’s interpretation of it, is different. Continually push your own boundaries and create new things, ensure quality in work, whilst staying true to your art, have a positive impact on others through your integrity in your work and in your life. Even if your work is not loved, because art is subjective, you will gain respect.

African youth, find mentors and coaches that can support you, share their experiences with you, and guide you with tips on how to turn your passion into profit. Keep exploring and working on your passion. You may usher in the next generation of exciting culture shifts. 

I take this space to pay tribute to some of my favourite Ghanaian Artists who have shared their talents, and those who through their leadership, have contributed to Ghana being recognised for its quality contribution to the arts. They have paved the way for generations to come. 

Industry promoters: Gaddy Laryea, Stephanie Addo, Kiki Banson, Abraham Ohene-Djan, Kofi Okyere Darko, Theresa Ayoade; Claudia Lumor; Eric Goka

Musicians: Osibisa, C. K. Mann, Kojo Antwi, Amandziba, Gyedu Blay Ambolley, Pat Thomas, Samini, Joe Mettle; Praye, Wutah; 

Fashion Labels: The late Kofi Ansah, Joyce Ababio, Oswald Boateng, Edward Enninful, Christie Brown, Pistis, Ophelia Crossland, Velma’s Accessories, Abu.

Thank you for setting standards in our art world. 

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