Black Women In Cannabis, Top Lessons From Our Trailblazing Trek In South Africa
In hindsight, everything is clear and 20/20 too; (pun intended). So then one can imagine why our reflection on the four weeks spent in South Africa from November to December of 2021 gives both dreamy and international business boot camp vibes. Traveling is always an expansive experience. This experience was expansive on steroids. There we were, not only traveling but add that to international traveling to Africa as two millennial Black Women with a toddler for Cannabis + Cultural Business during a GLOBAL PLANDEMIC. The journey was divinely challenging.
Why divine? Well, because no matter how unpleasant an experience, being grateful is a way of life. We honor the presence of spirit in all things and in all ways. Acknowledging that it was divinely challenging as opposed to just challenging or hard is our way of saying everything is exactly as it should be and that the challenge was a test that we showed up to journey through and pass.
Thankful to this divinely challenging trek that my business partner and Greenish Vibes Creative Director, Danicka, and I trail-blazed, so other Cannabis Entrepreneurs can be better prepared to take the same journey. No matter, the journey is long and in many ways arduous. There’s just no way around physical steps taken and hours upon countless hours spent journeying to Africa and then up and through the provinces within South Africa. It’s important to understand that this has always been a journey but now it’s a journey, journey due to ever-changing Covid travel restrictions and requirements.
Additionally, we were preparing to travel to Johannesburg for the largest Cannabis trade show in South Africa. Because of this, we had a ton of inventory to stock our booth with for the first weekend we arrived. Unfortunately, because we were just completely not prepared for the type of journey we had embarked on “packing wise” we couldn’t move as fast as we normally would have and missed our first flight. Missing our first flight on Thursday caused and affected a chain of events including our luggage arriving at EWR before us and being locked in the office upon our arrival; the Covid Clinic was closed upon our arrival to EWR which made us unable to fly out on that evening. Even more, when we went to change our flights for the next day which was Friday, only one seat remained and we needed a total of three. That bumped our departure to Saturday night arriving in Johannesburg Sunday evening. We missed a primary reason for traveling even before taking off.
At this point, we could’ve cut our losses and returned home but instead, we decided to trek on which brings us to our first lesson:
- Show up in person. Being physically in South Africa to do business was critical. People want to do business with people. And when you can say “it’s my business and I’m here in person to speak to you from America” it holds weight. We didn’t turn around when we knew we missed the trade fair because showing up matters to our vendors and partners when building the best relationships. Phone calls and emails just would not do.
- Be realistic. It’s okay to have a grand vision and it’s equally okay to have your implementation of the facilitation of the vision be broken up into digestible pieces. Because let’s be honest South Africa, is a large place. Ground travel from Farm A to Farm B oftentimes took hours. We initially thought we’d be able to visit a bunch of plots of land, but with how ground travel is set up and considering how far away things were it wasn’t a realistic plan. We regularly adjusted our plans mid-trip to stay flexible and realistic.
- Research and planning. This is crucial. With everything that won’t go as planned, just because, it’s important to have a foundational plan to stand on. This is why our trip was successful; we weren’t afraid to look it up - who, where, and how regarding the distribution outlets we wanted to secure. And when necessary, we pivoted the who, where, and how towards completion of the goal.
- Pay attention to the signs. Black women doing legacy work in Africa will always first and foremost be a spiritual inheritance. And let’s not get it twisted, the cultivation of cannabis and industrial hemp in partnership with traditional rulers and rural communities is legacy work. Leaving room to be guided and affirmed by divine spirit is a thing. On this trip, we used cardology and astrology every step of the way to understand our positions in the global field. We used the daily energies for our benefit. The meeting to secure our first official distribution partner with shelf space in multiple prime locations came through a conversation about birthday sequences and astrology. Whaaaaatttt?! Exactly! That’s my point!
- Culture is still the Chief Magistrate of one’s destiny and a master key when opening doors to traditional households in Africa. This entire experience was a product of cultural seeds sown. Six years ago when I initially traveled to South Africa, I was given a plot of land by my adopted Father Nkosi Ntsele of the Amahlubi Tribe in the Zulu Nation. On this trip, Nkosi promised to make me a hero of our people and declared me an Amahlubi Princess. It is our collective ancestors who’ve compelled him on both occasions. Without an understanding of my spiritual and cultural place in this world, my business partners and I would not have been able to reconnect to the land and community for the purposes of cannabis and industrial hemp cultivation.
Sorry not sorry that this may not have been what you expected. No fluff about a perfect experience here! Traveling to Africa during these times is really tough work. But just like everything else, if it’s worth having then you’ll have to work hard for it. This is just the beginning for us. We are confident in our strategy, our team, our partners, and the traditional communities we’ve aligned with. It’s only up from here.