Stories of Diversity: Ioanna Poignand

Africa has always held a special place in my heart and life. Ever since I was a child, I dreamed of one day exploring this continent. Little did I know that one day I would spend 7 years of my life there.

The beginning

After falling in love in 1997, I had the opportunity to visit South Africa, a country rich in natural beauty that seduced me, as did the warm welcome of its inhabitants. I’ll always remember the feeling of coming ‘home’ when I stepped off the plane, the smell, the warmth.

My first excursion was a 4×4 trip into the rocky desert region of the Richtersveld. We drove through this unique landscape, which at times reminded us of Australia. The vegetation is magnificent, with incredible plant species. We drove as far as the border with Namibia, where there was a large river. I even took a dip in it, eventhough I was unsure of what might have been in it. In the evening we camped in tents and I have wonderful memories of discussions looking at the incredible starry southern sky, watching Orion and other constellations with incredible clarity.

I would later continue my studies there and make a strong friendship with a girl called Gizelle, she would be my sidekick during my years of study and would help me discover many things. I learnt a few words of Afrikaans in the region where I live, a language more widely spoken than English, which was difficult but I managed a little.

I’ll always remember the feeling of coming home

The journey

Seduced by the scenery and the ‘bon vivre’ of the Cape, I didn’t manage to leave until 2006. I lived this stay-like-a-dream and discovered several ways of life and cultures in the same country, so rich in history.

Despite all this beauty, the country unfortunately experienced apartheid. I never lived there at the time and I rubbed shoulders with Africans of English, (Dutch) Afrikaans, mixed race and black descent.

During my stay I also had the opportunity to visit various regions of South Africa as well as Zimbabwe and Mozambique, where we travelled by car from Cape Town! A series of incredible adventures in a car where food was carefully stowed in the boot. I will treasure these images in my heart. There is so much to tell that one page would not be enough.

The future

Now, I am the mother of a little girl from Equatorial-Guinea and a Swiss myself. I am enjoying discovering the riches of West Africa, a continent that has yet to reveal all its secrets to me.

I’m lucky enough to have a beautiful mum who talks to me a lot about her country, Equatorial-Guinea, and with whom I’ve already had the chance to write a little book. This sharing is very important to me and I’d like to thank her for everything she passes on to my daughter and me. Thanks to her, my daughter will also grow up with this African generational transmission. She expresses a lot of love for her country.

With Bokobokids, I feel enriched by collaborating to develop a world of peace for future generations through my participation with our team. Let’s keep an open mind and Ubuntu.

The Power of African storytelling

What’s your story? 

Our personal stories are a powerful tool. It’s why we dedicated an entire panel session to the topic at Bokobokids. That is  why we invited people to explore their own journeys around African culture. In sharing our experiences, we can inspire and activate others.

#BKBStoriesofDiversity movement #CelebrateDiversity
#AfricanNarratives #InclusionMatters #PreserveAncestralWisdom

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