“Cultural diversity is a superpower; everyone must find what makes them special”
A Valencia-born African Queen, author of the Hispanic Chamber of Business in the United States specializes in promoting cultural integration through books. He remembers crying at the “egg” school in Valencia. Bisella Bokoko was born in that city that was deserted by African Americans. Of the black parents who had been sent to study in Spain from Equatorial Guinea, she was able to successfully hold out and become the leader of the Hispanic Chamber of Entrepreneurs in the United States.
However, at some point he decided to give up everything. He needed to go back to his grandparents’ house. Her world changed when she met the king of Kokovo, a secluded city in Ghana. When he saw her, he considered her the queen that his people expected. They headed in celebration and urged her to take some action that would make her worth keeping that scepter. Thus he created the African Literacy Foundation, which builds libraries in Africa. “Cultural diversity is a great force, each individual must find what makes them special. I will go one step further and realize that we must move to a world where embracing diversity of any kind is natural and inclusive diversity,” she says.
-She is particularly interested in devising ways to meet. What is built with them?
Bridges make the world a closer and smaller place. more familiar. I feel I live in a global world and I feel part of that world because by weaving bridges I am bringing people, cultures and countries closer together. This allows you to see everything from a more forgiving, holistic lens. I see opportunities rather than obstacles.
– What’s so good about “difference”?
You can choose whether your narrative of what makes you different takes you apart or brings you closer if you choose to feel special. Differences are positive if you look at them from a positive perspective and use them to your advantage, not against them.
-You are a diverse person. Do you feel like you built an identity out of all those pieces?
-naturally! Identity is based on who you are, otherwise you would live a personality that is not yours. I made a mix of all the cultural parts that define my identity: African, Hispanic, and American. I’ve also built my identity around my values and the things I’m passionate about. I’m still in progress and working constantly.
There is a generous idea to offer help, but too often a concept believed to be valuable is imposed, without paying attention to the culture or peculiarities of the place. Tell me about the obstacles and lessons you’ve traveled through with the African Literacy Project…
Great question! The first thing to do is to respect the culture of each place and not make one feel better or worse than the other. I have learned from my mistakes and been greatly enriched by accepting that all cultures come together. I also understood that to overcome many of the problems of infrastructure and logistics, the key lies in education because it puts us all on an equal footing. Sometimes you also find yourself with rigid systems that do not want changes and resist, however you have to move forward because by changing one life you can change a lot.
What is the different world in these children’s books in Africa?
By reading you travel to unknown worlds. It allows them to open their minds to incredible knowledge and above all to know themselves better. Children can be inspired by other people’s stories. Inside the books are stories that can change our lives for the better. Invisible friends advise us and great trips without leaving home.
I’ve heard you say “there are many Africans”. How is the person you know closely?
– I can’t make her an expert on Africa because although I visit her often, I haven’t lived there all the time. But I adore all the Africa I have known. They have geographic differences and influences from the colonial country. From my geographical point of view, I think that West Africa, full of contradictions and a lot of life, has wonderful people and in some cities, although chaos seems to reign, there is a different sense of the order of things and everything requires a sense of humor. East Africa combines the culture of people, nature and animals. It is Africa so charming and calmer, of great elegance. I understand Central Africa as seething. It is also full of contradictions and at the same time has a romantic mysticism. People have great charm. South Africa is perhaps the closest to European standards, and has systems very familiar to the West. They all share ancestral culture, musical wealth, craftsmanship, and cooking, although in gastronomy I prefer the expressions of the West and the Center.
– How do we define and choose the type of impact we want to leave?
– That’s something I’ve learned after giving myself many important hits. I set myself big, ambitious goals, what I do is take one step at a time, no matter how small, and so when I look back and see what I’ve done, there’s progress and I don’t focus on frustrating what I still have to achieve. I think clarity is important for deciding what effect you want to achieve, and that’s why you need to make an exercise in meditation and personal growth. First of all I follow the metaphor of life from my favorite poem “Ithaca” by Kavis. What matters is the path, not the destination. If it didn’t arrive, nothing would happen because I left a taste of what I experienced.
Besella Bococo (1974) is one of the ten most influential Spanish women in business in the United States, and was the Executive Director of the Hispanic-American Chamber of Commerce in New York for 7 years. is the BBES Corporation, a company focused on promoting companies that provide services to a wide range of markets and industries, particularly in the gastronomic, fashion, art and culture sectors. He developed the African Literacy Project Programme, whose mission is to advance the literacy of children from African villages with rural communities in Ghana, Uganda, Kenya and Zimbabwe through sustainable libraries. Named in 2019 by the United Nations as Citizen of the World.
“Award-winning zombie scholar. Music practitioner. Food expert. Troublemaker.”