Interview with Mwai (@lovefrommwai_experiences)
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’m Mwai Yeboah. If I let you listen to my heartbeat, you’d find it beats loudest for my son, husband, family, friends, the wedding industry, and most importantly, for Africa.
I’m a bit of spice, love, and soul. I’m an all-around lover of all things dreamy, refined luxury events and exquisite destinations.
I am a three time cancer survivor and soon hoping to beat this the 4th and hopefully the last! Read about my cancer journey
Because of cancer I had to take a break in my career, I came back 3 years ago, I did a rebrand and as my career grew, I couldn’t resist the urge to love on my beautiful Africa. I knew that I had to show people from around the world that Africa is truly beautiful and competent in so many ways. I began to plan experiences in Africa and that’s when my mission and vision got its wings.
My dream is to empower the African Mice and Tourism industry to be bold in their pursuit of what makes them happy, to dream big and know that anything is possible when we work together. I want to continue to inspire vendors to plan their destination weddings in Africa.
I wanted to dispel preconceived notions about people in Africa. I want to capture the strength of African people and celebrate blackness and to celebrate the strength, beauty and power that people from Africa possess especially in the creative industry and that being a creative is as good as being a Lawyer, Dr etc.
I have worked tirelessly on this new brand for the last year -www.exaltafrica.co.uk
Exalt the name as you know by definition means to “raise to a higher rank,” “to lift up,” or “hold something in high regard.” That’s exactly the sentiment I have for Africa. I want to exalt it among the nations, raise it to a high rank, see people’s eyes light up as they begin to hold it in higher regard and esteem.
I want to lift Africa up—exalt it. For so long, people have looked down on Africa. They’ve looked at Africa as rich in resources but lacking. They’ve seen it as broken and poor. While there are problems that need fixed, it’s filled with unseen beauty, tremendous abundance and wealth.
I want to raise Africa to a higher rank in the eyes and minds of people around the world. Every brand I have aims to do that—whether it’s highlighting African decor and artisan work, planning weddings in Africa, collaborating on luxury shoes as the sole African joint venture partner, or writing books about all Africa has to offer.
Looking into 2022, I want to celebrate Africa and its rich cultural heritage, showcase a new appreciation for black,
We have this brilliant idea to do a one of a kind publication-culture,music, food and people in Africa.
Africa is happening, And, indeed, she is. Her designers and artisans are poised to share with the world the kind of culture, music, and fashion that is globally transcendent and transformative. They are deserving of an international spotlight that doesn’t just revere them, but respects them. They are ready for tired tales of imitation, infringement, and appropriation to be replaced with the kind of cultural conversations that cite their names, exalt their work, and place them amongst the likes of the fashion houses, artists, and musicians they—and their ancestors—have spent generations silently inspiring.
I want to celebrate Africa and its rich cultural heritage, showcase a new appreciation for African heritage, and introduce magical love stories that come to life on our beautiful continent.
Can you share the most interest in exciting happened to you since you started doing this?
When I was first embarking on my journey to elevate the events industry in Africa, I knew I needed to start with educating governments. I needed the people in power to understand the direct connection between luxury events and tourism. I needed them to see that investing in local creatives wasn’t just about promoting pretty parties—it was a clear and direct path to boosting tourism, uplifting our economies, and supporting Africa’s subsistence entrepreneurs.
There were so many easier paths I could have taken that didn’t involve educating government officials or working with tourism boards and dignitaries—but the end result wouldn’t have been one that lined up with what I wanted my business to be. Sure, I could have brought luxury events to Africa without working with local governments—the initial work would have been much less complicated and bureaucratic, but the impact would not have been lasting or of substance. The end result would not have aligned with where I saw my business going—which was to become a beacon for Africa and build a brand that had the recognition, platform, and partnerships to eventually act as a voice for other emerging brands in Africa.
So, I sent emails and requested meetings and knocked on doors until I was heard. I pounded the pavement and made the phone calls and did all of the things that took me out of my comfort zone. I remained unwavering in my mindset that I had to get local governments on board with what I was doing in order to do it right.
To this day, fighting through the discomfort and uncertainty of that time—and remaining committed to my initial vision for my brand—is one of the best things I have ever done for my business.
There were plenty of times I could have given up, allowed a negative mindset to take over, and took the easy way out. But I wouldn’t be on this stage today if I did that. Now, I can say that I’ve built a brand that works in tandem with different tourism boards and important stakeholders—and, most importantly, one that is prominent enough to help others who are just starting out and in the same shoes I was all of those years ago. I have the power of a positive, resolute mindset to thank for that.
For centuries, artists in the African diaspora have influenced the world—their fashions emulated on European runways, their art pillaged by colonialists, their original melodies and beats set as the background to English lyrics on American albums without their names appearing anywhere in the credits. At best, Africa’s creations have inspired. At worst, they have been seized without citing.
In 2050, 1 in 4 people in the world will live in Africa; It’s time to shed light on the thriving African fashion, culture & lifestyle scenes that inspire the world and write the narrative for modern Africa. Giving Africa a well-deserved seat at the table is long overdue, and we believe there is no better way to finally do so than via the pages of the most internationally-acclaimed publication in the world. A publication that embraces creativity, craftsmanship, culture, and inclusivity. A publication that blends authentic content with arresting imagery and informed forecasts. A publication for all Africans; FiftyFour exists because of my passion for what i do.
Fifty Four is a publication that will act as a modern mecca of African culture. Its mission is to unearth, preserve, share + celebrate the inherent individuality that exists across Africa’s diverse 54 countries.
We want to celebrate Africa and its rich cultural heritage, showcase a new appreciation for African culture, and introduce magical love stories that come to life on our beautiful continent.
The Editor in Chief is myself- Mwai Yeboah with my friend and business partner Joy Proctor as Creative director.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them thrive and not “burn out”?
Knowing when to pivot or when something isn’t a right fit for your goals:
Now, I want to be clear that aligning your mindset with your business goals isn’t just about positivity. As powerful as positivity is, it is also incredibly powerful to know what is right for you and what isn’t and to walk away from something you may have previously been committed to.
When I first started out, I really wanted to focus on luxury events in Europe. And while I’ve met so many beautiful people in this country and have formed lifelong friendships with event industry professionals who call Europe home, there was also the flip side to that story. I was bullied for my accent. I had couples who immediately assumed I didn’t know and couldn’t follow wedding-planning etiquette because I was black. I felt so out of place. I was sick—physically very ill—but I kept pushing through and working because I wanted to plan luxury events in Europe.
My father convinced me to pause, to find that fire in me, and to remember what I was doing and what I was envisioning for my future.
So I did. I slowed down. I got quiet. And I eventually found the answer I was searching for: I needed to stop focusing on weddings in Europe. This was obviously a huge loss to my business financially—but I just knew I didn’t want to continue on that path. I knew it didn’t align with the business and life I wanted to build.
And that’s when I tapped into my true destination: bringing luxury events to my home continent of Africa. At the time, it was a lofty goal to say the least. Externally, Africa wasn’t exactly known for luxury events—and, internally, Africa didn’t exactly know luxury events.
But I made the leap, started doing the work, and building the relationships—and, today, I can confidently say that starting fresh and making that massive pivot was the most important thing I have done for my business. I get to work with like-minded people. I get to be a force for good for a place I so believe in. And I get to do it in a way that fulfills me, brings me freedom in my personal life, and allows me to uplift others in the industry along the way.
That time taught me that the important decisions you make for your business aren’t just the ones where you decide to power through, remain positive, and keep moving forward—sometimes, they’re the ones where you realize something just isn’t working for you anymore and you tap into the confidence it takes to take the big leap and completely alter your original plan.
So, ultimately, what I want you to take away from this today is this: building a business that serves you is all about having a clear vision and trusting yourself to see it through—whatever that may look like for you. Sometimes, it takes working through the discomfort and remaining positive and resolute in your goals. And other times, it takes pivoting and changing up the destination or embracing an alternative route to get there.
None of us can succeed without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story? *
Dr. W.W. Chakanika (“Papa Wanga”) dedicated his entire life to uplifting Africa and her people. While he was my father first and foremost—playing the role of both mum and dad after i lost my mother at a tender age (and refusing to leave me with anyone else throughout my childhood, so much so that i became lovingly referred to as his “handbag”)—he was also a dad to anyone who had the privilege to know him. He was a fierce family man, protector, advocate, and, perhaps most importantly, educator.
He was best known as an unmatched champion of the African education system— shaping countless minds across Africa as its chancellor.
Ask any one of his students, and they will all paint beautiful variations of the same picture: his lectures were filled with laughter; he never professed from a book but, rather, from the seemingly infinite knowledge he possessed within his mind and could draw upon at any time; he linked subject-matter to reality, rather than to tests; he taught students about their rights and how to fiercely protect those rights; and if you ever fell off track, he was the first person to encourage you to dig deep within yourself to see through your education and secure the freedoms that came with it.
Passionate, loyal, brilliant, empathetic, encouraging—while all of these words accurately describe Papa Wagna, they still somehow fall short. What, after all, do you call a man who gave countless minds the opportunity to learn, grow, and achieve their dreams? Who dedicated his life to uplifting his home country of Zambia and helping the world esteem Africa in higher regard? Who taught our founder to not work for herself, but to work for Africa and all of its people?
We do not know that we’ll ever find one right word to encompass all that Papa Wagna embodied—but what we do know is Africa is forever enriched because of his time on this Earth. It is our honor to carry on his legacy through our work here at Exalt Africa.
Because of you, Papa Wagna, i am forever inspired to share with the world the potential that lives within Africa’s soil, across her plains, in the hearts and hands of her people, and—perhaps most significantly—in the promise of her minds.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? *
Through both the many businesses i have founded and my ongoing media engagements, My life’s work is centered on rebranding Africa as more than just a land untamed or a safari destination—and uplifting African communities and their subsistence entrepreneurs.
Iam the founder of:
Love From Mwai Experiences, a travel website that unearths off-the-beaten-path experiences in often-overlooked destinations in Africa and around the world;
Love From Mwai, a luxury wedding-planning firm based in London that plans immersive, experience-rich events for discerning clientele;
Efie Studio, an artisanal home-goods boutique that ethically sources items from artisans around the world and donates 10% of all proceeds back to Zambian communities;
And The International Weddings and Events Service Providers Association (IWESPA), Zambia’s first-and-only events association dedicated to elevating ethics and excellence in the industry—and helping Zambia’s event-industry talent gain exposure on an international stage.
All of my companies live under the mother-brand Exalt Africa—a conscious lifestyle, travel, and events brand that exists to connect discerning travelers and engaged couples with destinations, experiences, services, and products that exemplify African luxury.
Do you have a favorite “written Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was?
Relevant to you in your life?
It takes a village to raise a child. This is true to business, it takes a team to build a business
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Anything specific you’d like to have mentioned in the article? *
My brand exalt africa www.exaltafrica.co.uk that advocates for creates in Africa