Yasmeen Helwani, a singer-songwriter from Ghana, says she often feels like an outsider in her home country, which prompted her to release a song about her heritage.
She was born in Ghana and raised there by a Lebanese father and a Ghanaian mother.
Her most recent single, How Are You?, addresses her mixed identity and features Ghanaian-Romanian Wanlov, another well-known person of mixed heritage.”It speaks of my Ghanaian experience and also addresses my Ghanaian brothers and sisters in a local language, telling them – listen, I’m your sister, but you don’t know.”
Communicating in local languages is the one thing she has discovered that changes attitudes toward her and aids in the disappearance of other perceived differences.”The only thing that broke the ice was when I mastered the courage to reach out to my community.””One of the best things my mother did for us was to let us learn local languages,” she says.
Despite being born in Ghana and having a legendary status on the music scene in Ghana and West Africa – producing great acts like the highlife band Basa Basa and managing Fela Kuti – Helwani’s late father, Faisal Helwani, also found his heritage difficult.
“My father was very interested in musicians; he had a lot of heartbreak because he would invest a lot in people only to be referred to as some foreigner.””He did face a lot of discrimination here in Ghana during his lifetime.”