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The DIOP Circle V.18

October 20th, 2019


Kwadjo Boaitey

Every Sunday, we publish a story from a member of the DIOP community. Because each and every one of you is on a journey and we're right there with you.

This week belongs to Kwadjo Boaitey. Our 207th customer, Kwadjo swears by Pink Matter and he's going to share how grace makes the most of circumstance.

Going through life without a timepiece did pay off. “Life’s Too Good” - The Sugarcubes

It does. I am living my best life because I have been doing just that. I was brought up to care deeply about family, about tradition, about community, about Africa, and about me. I gravitate to organizations and people whose sole purpose is the betterment of humanity in some kind of way. Growing up, “mission oriented” wasn’t an abstract concept. If you were from the Continent and new to America and trying to do something, like starting a business, pursuing higher education, or starting a family, you were invited to our house for a sublime Ghanaian meal (my mom is a culinary wizard), pontification and embrace.

After witnessing Ghana gain independence from the United Kingdom firsthand in 1957, my parents understood that being change is what makes the world go round. And they carried that sense of purpose with them when, like Kwame Nkrumah, they came to the United States.

It’s a hustle, it’s a hustle, it’s a hustle. Hustle, hustle, hustle. I learned to hustle from my folks. There was always some side gig, multiple streams of income, places and shops to get this and that and the resolve to do, to provide, to fly, no matter what.

Like the three monks who helped make the best soup in the world with three large rocks, my parents, who came to America by way of Boston with next to no cash, started a family, a garden that yields and yields.

I have a lot of vivid memories of Boston because it’s where I was born and where I lived in and around for the first 11 years of my life. Mattapan in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s was a Black neighborhood with a decent population of people from Africa and the Caribbean. During this time there was a lot of racial unrest in Boston just as the rest of the country.

The community was angry, really angry, and from my young mind it seemed we took that anger out on ourselves. A car was bombed or set ablaze every other week in the neighborhood. But, it was also the place where we lived in our first house with a yard and fruit trees. I remember three full-grown, healthy apple trees, and a big bucolic garden with corn, greens, peas, beans, peppers, tomatoes, all cultivated by my mother.

Once when it was dark, my brothers and I accompanied my mother to the store. I was probably 8 or 9 at the time. As we rounded the corner and opened the door to our finest grocery store, I saw a White police officer on the ground in a pool of blood. My mother herded us back out the door and we watched what looked like a getaway car speed by us, leaving in its wake bills, lots and lots of bills wafting in the air before making their way to the ground.

As we stood there on the curb in front of the grocery store, my Mom proceeded to pick up all the bills in the street and on the sidewalk. Every last one of them. I have to admit I do remember thinking to myself, “We’re going to be rich!”

Then she took us home and before we could say anything she called the police and returned the money. When the officers came, they said, “Do you see what your mother is doing?” I’m not sure what they saw, but the message I got was firstly this is not how I will make my money and secondly, I was rich; always have been, always will be.

My parents wore their traditional clothing along with their Ghana inspired prints and designs proudly. They loved their country and their people; they felt their best in their clothes. I loved their clothes too because they were mine, -me.

Moving to New York City after college was instructive. I came into my own in the "city that man built." My first job out of college was with the American Field Service on East 41st St. We were across the street from the great Ford Foundation and the United Nations.

AFS is an international exchange organization founded post-World War II to manifest intercultural relationships through home-stays. Loved it. But, being in the big city of dreams with so many creatives in one place acting, modeling, singing, drafting, illustrating, tagging, designing affirmed for me that I was one too.

I had just seen the movie Angela directed by Arthur Miller’s daughter, Rebecca. A few days later, while I was waiting tables at Bar 6, in comes Anna Thomson who played Angela’s mother in the movie. She’s seated at my table along with Mel Brooks, Todd Solondz, and a number of other funky cool creatives.

Just before they leave, I tell Anna that I enjoyed watching her in Angela. She thanked me and asked if I was an actor. I replied, “Of course.” A few weeks later, she returns and shared that she was also a photographer and would love to take a picture of me to capture my regal-ness (her words, not mine).

Months go by and we finally work out a time for me to come to her apartment to shoot. When I arrive, she says, “You’d probably want to see my book.” When I look at her book I see Ethan Hawke, Lara Flynn Boyle, great pictures of the hot, working New York-based actors at the time. Then I see her composite card and exclaim, “You’re Thomson Photos?”

A couple of years earlier, I had walked into some Times Square receptacle where hoards of composites and cards for headshots and photographers were posted. They were all trash except one: Thomson Photos. I actually took that composite card, and whenever I had the opportunity to shoot with someone I would pull the card out and ask, “Can you do it like this?” The images were real, natural and beautiful. I couldn’t believe Anna was Thomson Photos.

She says, “Why didn’t you call me then?” to which I replied, “I wouldn’t be getting these pictures for free now, would I?” We laughed, but I was amazed at this wonderful turn which I’ve come to understand as natural as life. Anna took the best headshots of me that I’ve ever had. She gifted them to me because she wanted to help me; she believed in me and that was all, the greatest all. That picture opened doors for me.

And just like that I found myself in the south, Hotlanta to be exact. Feeling the need to be closer to my mother, I discovered a whole new perspective in that red Georgia clay. The clay is very much like the clay in Ghana. I would meet my life partner Lovely, here. She and I have been blessed to bring a Starchild into this world.

I have shape-shifted into a 6th Grade English Intervention Teacher. Who says I’m not acting and modeling? Teaching affords me the opportunity to be right there with my community, with the youth and their parents. I understand intimately where they’re coming from.

Teaching is just as much about developing relationships with students as it is teaching the material. They are at a key age in their lives where they will work for you if they like you. I like to be formal at school and usually wear a jacket, with my DIOP top of course, putting my best foot forward.


The DIOP Circle V.18

October 20th, 2019


Kwadjo Boaitey

Every Sunday, we publish a story from a member of the DIOP community. Because each and every one of you is on a journey and we're right there with you.

This week belongs to Kwadjo Boaitey. Our 207th customer, Kwadjo swears by Pink Matter and he's going to share how grace makes the most of circumstance.

Going through life without a timepiece did pay off. “Life’s Too Good” - The Sugarcubes

It does. I am living my best life because I have been doing just that. I was brought up to care deeply about family, about tradition, about community, about Africa, and about me. I gravitate to organizations and people whose sole purpose is the betterment of humanity in some kind of way. Growing up, “mission oriented” wasn’t an abstract concept. If you were from the Continent and new to America and trying to do something, like starting a business, pursuing higher education, or starting a family, you were invited to our house for a sublime Ghanaian meal (my mom is a culinary wizard), pontification and embrace.

After witnessing Ghana gain independence from the United Kingdom firsthand in 1957, my parents understood that being change is what makes the world go round. And they carried that sense of purpose with them when, like Kwame Nkrumah, they came to the United States.

It’s a hustle, it’s a hustle, it’s a hustle. Hustle, hustle, hustle. I learned to hustle from my folks. There was always some side gig, multiple streams of income, places and shops to get this and that and the resolve to do, to provide, to fly, no matter what.

Like the three monks who helped make the best soup in the world with three large rocks, my parents, who came to America by way of Boston with next to no cash, started a family, a garden that yields and yields.

I have a lot of vivid memories of Boston because it’s where I was born and where I lived in and around for the first 11 years of my life. Mattapan in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s was a Black neighborhood with a decent population of people from Africa and the Caribbean. During this time there was a lot of racial unrest in Boston just as the rest of the country.

The community was angry, really angry, and from my young mind it seemed we took that anger out on ourselves. A car was bombed or set ablaze every other week in the neighborhood. But, it was also the place where we lived in our first house with a yard and fruit trees. I remember three full-grown, healthy apple trees, and a big bucolic garden with corn, greens, peas, beans, peppers, tomatoes, all cultivated by my mother.

Once when it was dark, my brothers and I accompanied my mother to the store. I was probably 8 or 9 at the time. As we rounded the corner and opened the door to our finest grocery store, I saw a White police officer on the ground in a pool of blood. My mother herded us back out the door and we watched what looked like a getaway car speed by us, leaving in its wake bills, lots and lots of bills wafting in the air before making their way to the ground.

As we stood there on the curb in front of the grocery store, my Mom proceeded to pick up all the bills in the street and on the sidewalk. Every last one of them. I have to admit I do remember thinking to myself, “We’re going to be rich!”

Then she took us home and before we could say anything she called the police and returned the money. When the officers came, they said, “Do you see what your mother is doing?” I’m not sure what they saw, but the message I got was firstly this is not how I will make my money and secondly, I was rich; always have been, always will be.

My parents wore their traditional clothing along with their Ghana inspired prints and designs proudly. They loved their country and their people; they felt their best in their clothes. I loved their clothes too because they were mine, -me.

Moving to New York City after college was instructive. I came into my own in the "city that man built." My first job out of college was with the American Field Service on East 41st St. We were across the street from the great Ford Foundation and the United Nations.

AFS is an international exchange organization founded post-World War II to manifest intercultural relationships through home-stays. Loved it. But, being in the big city of dreams with so many creatives in one place acting, modeling, singing, drafting, illustrating, tagging, designing affirmed for me that I was one too.

I had just seen the movie Angela directed by Arthur Miller’s daughter, Rebecca. A few days later, while I was waiting tables at Bar 6, in comes Anna Thomson who played Angela’s mother in the movie. She’s seated at my table along with Mel Brooks, Todd Solondz, and a number of other funky cool creatives.

Just before they leave, I tell Anna that I enjoyed watching her in Angela. She thanked me and asked if I was an actor. I replied, “Of course.” A few weeks later, she returns and shared that she was also a photographer and would love to take a picture of me to capture my regal-ness (her words, not mine).

Months go by and we finally work out a time for me to come to her apartment to shoot. When I arrive, she says, “You’d probably want to see my book.” When I look at her book I see Ethan Hawke, Lara Flynn Boyle, great pictures of the hot, working New York-based actors at the time. Then I see her composite card and exclaim, “You’re Thomson Photos?”

A couple of years earlier, I had walked into some Times Square receptacle where hoards of composites and cards for headshots and photographers were posted. They were all trash except one: Thomson Photos. I actually took that composite card, and whenever I had the opportunity to shoot with someone I would pull the card out and ask, “Can you do it like this?” The images were real, natural and beautiful. I couldn’t believe Anna was Thomson Photos.

She says, “Why didn’t you call me then?” to which I replied, “I wouldn’t be getting these pictures for free now, would I?” We laughed, but I was amazed at this wonderful turn which I’ve come to understand as natural as life. Anna took the best headshots of me that I’ve ever had. She gifted them to me because she wanted to help me; she believed in me and that was all, the greatest all. That picture opened doors for me.

And just like that I found myself in the south, Hotlanta to be exact. Feeling the need to be closer to my mother, I discovered a whole new perspective in that red Georgia clay. The clay is very much like the clay in Ghana. I would meet my life partner Lovely, here. She and I have been blessed to bring a Starchild into this world.

I have shape-shifted into a 6th Grade English Intervention Teacher. Who says I’m not acting and modeling? Teaching affords me the opportunity to be right there with my community, with the youth and their parents. I understand intimately where they’re coming from.

Teaching is just as much about developing relationships with students as it is teaching the material. They are at a key age in their lives where they will work for you if they like you. I like to be formal at school and usually wear a jacket, with my DIOP top of course, putting my best foot forward.

My advice, live your life without a timepiece and find a way to love yourself. Love yourself.


By Kwadjo Boaitey

Follow Kwadjo @thekwadjosityfactor

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of DIOP.


My advice, live your life without a timepiece and find a way to love yourself. Love yourself.

- Kwadjo Boaitey


Follow Kwadjo @thekwadjosityfactor