A Talk with the Idriss Clan on Creative-Friendly Families


The day autopsies are performed on our dreams, many of our parents will have much to answer for.

I remember something the writer Taiye Selasi said at the end of a reading a few years back; thanking her mother and her aunts for sacrificing their dreams so that she didn’t have to. Nevertheless, the story of the parent supportive of their child’s dreams of being a creative remains a rare one. In all our grief around Ebony Reign’s sad, sudden ancestorship, for example, one of the few sources of light has been how unwavering her father’s support was (and still is) for his daughter’s career.

Just yesterday, I chatted with a colleague who told me that the first things she ever aspired towards were the clicking fingers and swaying hips of a backing singer. She reminded me of my mother, who once told me she first wanted to be an architect. She ended up studying food nutrition and epidemiology.

Anytime I hear such stories and probe past their bearers’ feelings of uncertainty and regret, I find – somewhere near the bottom of it all – our parent’s fears and good intentions. I have interviewed many Ghanaian creatives, and it is rare to come across more than a handful whose parents actively support their creative leanings. I even know a few young creatives who feel compelled to completely hide the fruit of their gifts. More than one of them is in various stages of depression within universities – favoured by their parents – that are still figuring out whether they lean STEM or STEAM.

I am happy to have been invited by The Artist Concert to moderate a free talk tonight in which I will be exploring all of this in conversation with the homie Latifah Idriss, her insanely creative siblings, and – importantly – their parents too.

The pitch is as follows:

Before having to fight for their ideas in the outside world, creators learn to do so at home: a place where they should receive the most support. It is a battle that does not end until they achieve wealth.

Coming from a place of concern, Ghanaian parents have – for generations – used the fact that they primarily pay tuition fees to push their creative-leaning children into degree programs that lead to ‘safer’ careers like Medicine, Law, and Engineering.

While some creators successfully transition, many do not. This failure has implications for both the creative individual and society as a whole.

Our next conversation will focus on how best to develop a creative ecosystem in which creators can be guided without being controlled, looking at what it takes to allow our kids the freedom to become who they want to be. We will do so in conversation with a family we think has achieved this.

The Iddris Family consists of two loving parents and six children, all of whom are forging creative paths across the arts. Do they believe that they have achieved this creative ecosystem?

They will be sharing their individual experiences on navigating family politics towards individual freedom.

Please feel free to drop by.


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