Francis Owusu is the founder and CEO of Kulture Break, a charity dance organisation that has encouraged the youth and children in Canberra to focus their energies towards a creative pursuit rather than negative alternatives, since 2002.
Francis says of his work, "When I reflect on what I actually do, I am amazed about how privileged I am. My passion is empowering people to help them move from one level of life experience to the next. And to get the opportunity to claim this as my work is so invigorating."
Francis Owusu's cultural identity stems back to Ghana in west Africa. His parents were born there but came to Australia as part of the diplomatic core – his grandfather was the High Commissioner to Australia.
"Ghana is a peaceful nation with a rich culture and we love music and dance. I would describe my Ghanian cultural heritage as lively, highly social and progressive," says Francis.
Francis says he has not only felt vilified because of his heritage, but also because of his Christian faith.
"As an African-Australian I grew up with very low self-esteem because I felt I was treated differently – not because of what I said, but because of what I looked like. I suffered discrimination because I was seen to be different to everyone else. I felt like “a nobody” and tried so hard to be somebody else. My faith has helped me to recognise that I am a somebody who has great value."
He is positive about social change in Canberra. "I do believe Canberra is becoming more and more of a tolerant, inclusive society - we have such a diverse range of people living here. The multicultural blend of our city has definitely deepened over the past 20 to 30 years."
When asked what he would like to see as a result of the 'Diversity goes with our Territory' campaign, his answer was simple – to encourage more celebration.
He says, "The more we celebrate, the more we see what unites us – not what separates us. Life can get too serious so the more genuine celebration we can have, the better. And hopefully, this will also encourage more respect for each other."
"Canberra means 'meeting place'. I think of Canberra as a place of gathering for people from all over the earth with the opportunity to share, work and grow together."