The community of queer love and femme friendship
Afrodite and Friends is a warm, female-led, femme-centred events collective bringing agency to the women of Accra. Run by partners Rebekah and Eni, Afrodite and Friends began with the intention to provide women with a safe space to be themselves, beyond the prying eyes of men. Informed by Rebekah and Eni's own experiences as queer women, Afrodite and Friends has been steadily growing over the past years bringing parties, retreats, therapeutic services, and small intimate events to the women of Accra.
Having attended one of their exceptionally Sassy parties whilst visiting Ghana, The Sassy Show sat down with Rebekah and Eni to learn more about the motivations behind their work. Read on or listen to the podcast to learn about why this duo are reshaping the landscape for women and nonbinary people, as well as their journey to being confident in themselves by sharing their Sass with others.
It's 9pm on a Saturday night and we get a text telling us the location of that night's Afrodite and Friends party. Arriving at the venue, we're greeted by a friendly female bouncer and led into a room that shines with sparkly decor, lit up by pink lights and buzzing energy. We first spot Rebekah and Eni on the dancefloor, sporting fabulous galactic-style outfits and exuding a sense of warmth to each woman who enters their party. This feeling of care reflects the secrecy of the location, helping prevent any gate crashers arrive (namely men) and protecting the party people from any unwanted attention or harassment.
I wear many hats, I enjoy lots of different things and working on Afrodite and Friends gives me the opportunity to try anything I want to. Making my passions my work! - Rebekah
This is something we learn about a couple of weeks later when meeting Rebekkah and Eni in their home on a sunny Sunday. Sitting on their sofa, with two kitties purring between them, we hear about the intentions behind Afrodite and Friends and the freedom they hope to inspire.
Having moved to Ghana in 2021, after quitting her job as a social worker in the UK, Rebekah decided to use her skills as an event planner and organiser led her to develop the concept of Afrodite and Friends, providing women and non-binary people in Accra with a space to share and celebrate with one another. Rebekah explains how it started off with "wellness sessions, trips out of the city, really wholesome intimate things to bring people together", before growing into having women-centred events and parties on a slightly larger scale.
This passion for bringing people together was something that Eni also shared. Before moving out to Ghana, Eni had been co-running a collective alongside working as a business analyst for a bank. She explains how "it wasn't really fulfilling me, so while I was working my cooperate job, I started Infinity Gang with a bunch of friends". For Eni and her friends, this was a way to flex their skills as multi-faceted creatives alongside working in corporate roles, while simultaneously encouraging others to do the same. However, after trying to maintain a long-distance relationship, Eni made the decision to move to Ghana at the beginning of this year to join Rebekah and help run Afrodite and Friends in Accra.
I've always gone against the grain and been quite defiant. I think, if I hadn't, I'd be a lot more miserable in my life - Eni
Inspired by wanting to create a space for women, Eni explains how "going into a lot of spaces in Accra, they're very male-dominated and you don't always see women be in their full authentic selves." With a desire to change this, Eni and Rebekah also recognised how "being queer ourselves expanded the boundaries to all women and non-binary people", leading them to open their supportive events to those who may feel marginalised within their own gender identity.
It is a joy to see Eni and Rebekah living their authenticity openly and supporting others to do the same. When asked what shaped this mindset, Rebekah tells us how, from a young age, she felt like an outsider, especially as a young Black girl in a predominantly white school. However, "my mum taught me that it's ok to stand alone and like who I am and believe in myself" rather than change to fit in. Rebekah goes on to explain how "We hold ourselves back so much but when we give from our most authentic place...you realise you're just a vessel". This is something that was essential for Rebekah to realise, explaining how after arriving in Ghana "My previous job crushed my confidence quite a bit so believing in myself was something I had to practise every single day." By doing this, she tells us how the negative thought started to quieten.
Going into a lot of spaces in Accra, they're very male-dominated and you don't always see women be in their full authentic selves... There's a male gaze that exists and you can't be at peace as a woman
For Eni, she explains how she always felt pretty different to her siblings. "I've always gone against the grain and been quite defiant. I think, if I hadn't, I'd be a lot more miserable in my life". Having built a life for herself that doesn't conform to others' expectations, she tells us how "I say no to authority a lot and do stuff based on how my soul wants to exist and experience the world." Having grown up in a low-income household, and studying at a high achieving school further away from her home, Eni tells us how "this has a lot to do with my open-mindedness when it comes to understanding that people have so many different perspectives and we can't live life thinking there's just one." This has also fed into the acceptance Eni has sort in herself around her sexual identity. She explains how "I know it's not easy for everyone but it's better to be truly you, for your family to know who you are rather than living a life of a lie".
When discussing the topic of feminism, Rebekah and Eni highlight how the lack of intersectionality and the way history has carved a narrative that excludes many people who are not cis, straight white people, creates a separation between their mission and the movement. However, they tell us how "Feminism does impact the work we do but, when thinking about who we want to come to our events, it's someone who understands feminism should include all the intersections and being aware of our privileges." As Ghanaian and Nigerian diasporans living in Accra, this awareness of privilege is something that has shaped the approach Rebekah and Eni have taken with Afrodite and Friends. From the pay it forward ticket scheme to finding ways to reach women outside of their own social life in the city, they are always seeking solutions to becoming more accessible.
Women need their own spaces...so they can talk, be free, dance, and show their personality!
With Rebekah and Eni's experiences of having lived in London, the disparities between gender in Ghana has become more obvious to them. From day-to-day life to job opportunities and workspaces, they explain how the male presence dominates most environments in Accra, forcing women to be smaller, quieter, less free in expression, opinion, and personality. This goes hand in hand with the oblivion that many men have about why women need spaces to be themselves without the male gaze. "In England, you can be loud and rowdy. But here you're taught to be quiet, especially in the presence of men. It's not "ladylike". Which is why women need their own spaces...so they can talk, be free, dance, and show their personality!". This is something Rebekah and Eni consciously try to speak to more people about, explaining how "I've noticed that when I talk to men about the work that I do, they don't understand why it's needed." However, after introducing them to the reasons, it slowly helps make them become aware, creating a ripple effect of changing mentalities.
We start to close our conversation by asking our fave party duo about their sassy sides. Rebekah tells us how "I feel I'm at my sassiest when speaking up for myself, communicating my needs, being assertive and having firm boundaries. I also love to dance, hang out with my girlfriends and sing along to all my favourite songs.!" This connection to self and others in a healthy way is something that Rebekah feels has always been there, in parallel to overcoming insecurities. "I didn't always trust myself in making decisions for myself, I'd question it if it didn't fit into what everyone else wanted to do". By letting go and trusting her own intuition, Rebekah has been able to prioritise her own voice which continues to take her to new levels of Sassyness!
For Eni, she says connecting with her sense of confidence alongside a healthy dose of music is when she feels most sassy, which she does by "ensuring I'm good with myself. When I've done a lot of self-care, my spiritual practise, when I'm with my people, and when I'm with Rebekah." This is something that's changed over time for Eni, explaining how "I used to hang out with a lot of guys when I was younger and as I've gotten older, interacting with more women has made me feel a lot more sassy. Because when women come together and commune, there's almost nothing like it, energetically."
When discussing the future, Rebekah and Eni tell us how their goals are set on making Afrodite and Friends sustainable, to reach many more people from different social groups alongside diversifying the work they do. With a festival on their radar and the upcoming launch of an 'Access to Therapy' programme, their vision is to expand and reach vulnerable women to empower them around Accra as well as further places outside of Ghana. Eni explains how they see the potential in taking the project to other places in Africa including Nigeria and Ivory Coast where they have a few contacts already. However, from the big dreams and to the small goals, Rebekah and Eni remind us how "The community determines what they need so we have to be ready and malleable to be prepared to give them what they need, rather than just serving ourselves". With this humble and conscientious mindset, we look forward to seeing the development of Afrodite and Friends, knowing the potentially life-changing impact this powerful project will have.
Rebekah and Eni's Quickfire
When do you feel most confident?
Eni: When I'm in touch with myself, with my people, when the energies are right and not doubting myself
Rebekah: The same, but also when I've shaved my head
What key experience has shaped you positively?
Rebekah: Taking that leap of faith and moving to Ghana
Eni: Spending time in Hong Kong when I was studying abroad, I learned so much about myself and was able to express myself as I am - I introduced myself in a way that I hadn't before.
One dream you wish to come true?
Eni: To marry Rebekah
Rebekah: To have the Afrodite and Friends Festival, all led by women, women centered
One law you want to change?
Both: Kill the bill!
Best thing about being you?
Eni: Being about to understand different perspectives and being able to connect with people, even if I don't completely agree
Rebekah: My ability to experience joy in most situations.
Name your Sassy tracklist?
Mazza - Lex Amor
111 - Shae Universe
Flame on - Ria Boss
Forever - Baaba J
TWITCH - BAMBII
Be sure to keep up with Afrodite and Friends upcoming events by following them on IG @afroditeandfriends
Interview and write up by Bethany Burgoyne @bxsassy2