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Sheila Adufutse: The common denominator for building communities is collective exploration

We speak to Sheila Adufutse about the tribes she’s building, the stories behind them, and the challenges she’s met on the way

Life is possible with communities: intentional communities who have a common goal to explore life genuinely.

Sheila Adufutse

Sheila Adufutse is many things – intelligent, sophisticated, soft-spoken, affectionate, and a leader of tribes. In 2017, Sheila founded the Ghana Reading Community to encourage young Ghanaians to read a book and also have a space to dissect what they read. Driven by the intensity to inspire collective awareness and support for women, Sheila started ‘Sister is a verb’ in 2019. In the same year, she founded Travel Tribe Ghana (Traveltribegh), a travel group for old friends to reconnect and one where strangers can build new, lasting connections. 

Below, we speak with the community leader about the tribes she’s building, the stories behind them, and the challenges she’s met on the way.

C: Can you tell us a bit about yourself, how you started Traveltribegh, Sisterisaverb, the Ghana reading community, and what inspired these communities?

Sheila: Introductions are always so hard for me. Like where do I even start from? LOL.

Yes, I usually describe myself as someone who deeply feels and cares about herself and the people around her. I wholly love the simplified complexities of life and consciously attempt to live with ease – in the best way I can make room for.

I am passionate about organic community building and working together to explore the best way we can thrive. These three communities came out of this passion I sacredly nurture in the depths of my heart.

When I think about it, I believe the common denominators for these three communities are presence, care, collective exploration, and learning. Life is possible with communities, intentional communities that have a common goal to explore life genuinely.

Traveltribe Ghana came to life after envisioning a life of travelling with friends and strangers. I visualized a possibility of strong bonds of safety and care built between people because of these trips. I went on a journey to Lome – Togo with a group of friends and strangers sometime in 2019, and we all did not return the same. Something shifted in my life from that trip, and I wanted more of that. Genuine and deep connections are built, and there is always something new to learn by exploring new places with people. The joy of exploring a new and different area helps us understand how we can each care for ourselves in unfamiliar spaces. We put a lot of thoughts into planning our trips to ensure the safety and comfort of everyone. Most importantly, we encourage people to be free and be in the best way they know how to.

I was a part of an online book club called ‘The Read Club,’ started by Michael, an incredible Nigerian man, four or five years ago. We had physical meet-ups planned for people who lived in the same cities, and it was very transformative for most of us. With time, The Read Club halted the online activities, but as the space was good for many of us in Ghana, I felt inspired to create a book community to suit the needs of the young millennial Ghanaian.

With the help of other brilliant minds, we narrowed the scope of the reading community to read and engage with books written by people of African descent. Currently, we are working towards being present in all the tertiary institutions across the 16 regions of Ghana. 

Sister is a verb started as an experimental space for young African women to explore how to be intentional about caring for the self and learn how to support other women. It is a space for the everyday young African woman to breathe and thrive outside of all projections of what a young African woman should be.

My small group of friends inspired this idea. I am grateful for the comfort and support that I get from being in spaces with women who go through life similarly as I do. I realized quickly that, unfortunately, not every woman has access to such communities. I wanted to replicate this intentional space on a larger scale to broaden the accessibility so that other women can potentially experience and benefit from the offerings of being in a community with other sister friends.

C: What inspired the name, ‘Sister is a verb?’

Sheila: I came by that phrase in the book written and gathered by Adrienne Maree Brown called Pleasure Activism.

Writer and social activist Toni Cade Bambara taught me in the book that “Sister is a verb”. This phrase has guided this meaningful idea for women to take a bold, intentional, and nurturing step towards each other – which essentially should reflect in actions.

The idea narrowed down to how young African women can explore how to practice combined care and nurturing. I have a firm belief that our collective resources and presence are adequate to support us to thrive as women.

We are reminded that;

Sistering is intentional, and it takes practice.

Sistering is holding hands and affirming one another.

Sistering is being present.

Sistering is holding space.

Sistering is tough but doable.

Sistering is guidance.

Sistering is figuring out sistering.

Sistering is the food our soul craves.

Sistering is what saves our lives.

Sistering is indeed what we do consciously.

C: Are these communities only for people living in Ghana, or do you plan to expand outside Ghana?

Sheila: Currently, sisterisaverb is open to all young African women.

Traveltribegh is open to everyone living in Ghana because we mostly do local travelling within the country, but hopefully, we’ll be going to different African countries starting this December.

Ghana Reading Community is also open to all Ghanaians.

C: What is one thing that you consider a win during your journey, and can you share with us any challenges you’ve faced along the way?

Sheila: A phenomenal win for me is that I approach life with a sense of sincerity and vulnerability that is sometimes hard but necessary. I have been very much intentional about this, and even though living this way comes with its challenges, it makes you confident in the intentions of people who choose to walk towards you. It has helped me find myself in the company of people who share in the life I envision. It makes it easier to take each day at a time because you find yourself in a tribe that supports you every step of the way.

A challenge I would say would be juggling the nurturing of these communities alongside staying devoted to my professional 9 to 5 life. It has not been easy, but I am slowly finding the tools to help me make things easier and stay consistent.

To join any of these communities, send a message to the social media platforms, and Sheila and her team will take it from there.

Ghana reading Community: Twitter | Instagram

Travel Tribe: Twitter | Instagram

Sister is a verb: Twitter | Instagram

By Ifunanya Okolie

I am exploring how to become the best version of humanity.

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