Professor Eleanor Earl directing on set. In addition to being a HBCU professor, Professor Earl is also a singer/songwriter who has collaborated and performed with Grammy award-winning music producers, and is an alumna of The Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. (Courtesy of Professor Earl)

By Jessica Dortch
AFRO News Editor

Africa is called the motherland for a reason: it is said to be the birthplace of humanity. The year 2019, deemed “The Year of Return” in Ghana, marked 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived on American shores. Now, a year into a global pandemic amid social and political unrest in the country, African-Americans are still longing to reconnect with their roots. All Roads Lead to Africa, an initiative for innovators from every creative industry to collaborate, is the missing branch on the Black family tree. 

The brainchild of Hampton University Professor, Entrepreneur and Founder of All Roads Lead to Africa, Professor Eleanor Earl told the AFRO that she has always had a fascination and admiration for Africa. As a graduate student at the New York University, Professor Earl met people from all over the world. She recalled that the Africans, specifically, that she met while living in New York were warm and willing to share their world of rich history and culture with her. “The African community there was just welcoming and wonderful, so I became serious about learning more,” she remembered. 

Later, her travels would take her to London, England where she would encounter Black British men and women of African descent who were also creatively receptive. “I’ve grown in terms of my interest, and just really having a desire to make an impact economically on the continent in a positive way so things can continue to be ameliorated there,” Professor Earl explained. 

In September 2020, the Virginia native was invited by Prince Anthony Bart-Appiah, CEO of the BridgeZone to co-produce a virtual masterclass called “Black Stories Matter,” in partnership with the Ghana Tourism Authority. The series was a part of Ghana Tourism Authority’s promotion for their latest initiative “Beyond the Return.” The initiative will span 10 years and encourages all members of the African diaspora to return. 

All Roads Lead to Africa is set to kick off in Accra, Ghana this summer with a series of live streamed concerts from top artists in Ghana and has already attracted some heavyweight partnerships with Roc Nation and Peace Industry Music Group. Professor Earl aims to normalize international collaborations like this.

Professor Earl & Shomi Patwary pose on set. (Courtesy of Professor Earl)

With the help of Asante Bradford, industry engagement manager for digital media and entertainment with the Georgia Centers of Innovation, the “Atlanta to Accra” exchange program will do just that. “When I learned that we both shared this affinity for the continent and being able to create opportunities like this was key to making it happen,” Professor Earl explained. 

“Atlanta to Accra” will feature a mix of well-established and rising talent from Atlanta, Ga. and Accra, Ghana. Courses will be facilitated virtually by experts in various industries, but Professor Earl and her partners plan to offer an in-person experience once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

All Roads Lead to Africa is quickly gaining momentum and recently launched list of global partners in addition to E.L. Earl Enterprises including Digital Media & Entertainment Division, the Georgia Centers Of Innovation, the Mad Twiinz Animation, Etu Evans Designs, Prolific Media Holdings (US/AU), Ghana Based The BridgeZone, and The Creative Arts Council Of Ghana.  “I’m starting with Ghana because of this great relationship. The government has been wonderful. The creative arts council of Ghana has been wonderful and the BridgeZone,” Professor Earl said. 

Professor Earl said this collaboration represents the power of networking and leveraging your network. “The connections that you made yesterday, two years ago or ten years ago can honestly serve you later,” she said. “With that being said, I have known each of the people involved with from a span of one year to 10 years. The idea of being able to look to the people with whom I’ve done other business was wonderful. Their support means everything to me.”

Professor Earl also caught up with AFRO’s Washington D.C. and Digital Content Editor Micha Green for an interview on AFRO Live. Check out the interview for more information on All Roads Lead to Africa, currently streaming on Facebook at @AfroAmericanNews. 

Stay in the loop about the upcoming launch by following All Roads Lead to Africa on Instagram @AllRoadsLeadToAfrica and @ARLTAOfficial.