To the tune of his debut single in the background, the sun setting above the waves of Lagos’ Tarkwa Bay, a free-spirited Alton Mason dances across the sand, reflecting on place, belonging, and fate.
“To call a foreign place my home. To feel the energy of my ancestors in a place I’ve never been,” Mason recites, “to see my reflection in a culture that is both new to me and so familiar. To leave and to find my way back. A destiny no one can take from me. A destiny that has been written before my first breath.”
To leave and to find my way back. We hear you, Alton.
In three minutes, we watch an illustration of Mason reconnecting to the Motherland, using this as a vessel to overcome his fears and walk in his purpose. The message within Mason’s words reflects the heartbeat of an emergent movement. A movement of diasporans, both young and old, from first generation to generations departed, who are, like Mason — finding their way back.
Over recent years, the gravity of this movement has been most visible in December. The holiday season has begun to mark an invitation to the children of Africa’s diaspora to return home. The most recent December was the landmark “Year of the Return,” where Ghana welcomed thousands from around the world to break bread, dance, breathe, escape, return, and reconnect.
“Rise in Light” in itself, is a vivid example of going beyond reconnecting. A team of Mason, Amarachi Nwosu, and filmmaker soof Light brought this to life as a social impact campaign dedicated to COVID-19 relief. They partnered with the Khan Foundation, a well established Lagos-based nonprofit, contributing to their ongoing effort of securing food and necessities for households facing a loss of income and school closures.
“The main goal of the film was to show the concept of love, light, and understanding. It’s a really dark and uncertain time in the world, and we wanted to use our creativity not only to show a film representing reconnection to people, land, water, and nature but also make a difference in the lives of the communities we present,” says Nwosu, the film’s director and the founder of Melanin Unscripted, a media platform and creative agency. “Rise in Light is an opportunity for us to shed light on communities that often get overlooked but also the opportunity for us to tune in to the light we all have in ourselves. While we are going through a dark time, we can dig deep at our core and share abundance with others,” Nwosu continues.
Within 24 hours of releasing the film, they exceeded their goal of raising $10,000 to send relief supplies to 300 families in Lagos. “During this global crisis, many of us are losing loved ones, businesses, faith, & hope. We are all being affected by the seen and unseen, and it is so easy to spiritually succumb to the darkness that we are at war with. “Rise in Light” is a call for change, evidence of freedom and the expression of love and joy. Created to inspire and uplift,” says Mason.