On July 5, 2017 I interviewed Francesca Conate. Conate may be a bit of an unusual name in San Mateo, California, where Francesca grew up. However, in Mali, where her grandfather is from, this name is quite common.
When you talk to Francesca, the two words that popped into my head were infectious joy. Francesca puts out a positive energy that tickles people who talk to her.
Whether you have known her for 5 years or 5 minutes she has a way of making you feel like she is one of your oldest friends. Francesca wears her emotions outwardly. She is very opinionated, from what I saw and she expresses her opinions through facts.
Francesca was a person of interest for Black Asia Magazine because she lived in Japan for over 13 years. When she was not working, she spent most of her time among the various African communities in and around Tokyo.
Francesca is the kind of person who likes to connect with other people. This was the main reason that her time living in Japan was so rewarding. She made herself open to all the new people and all the new experiences.
She stressed to me the importance of leaving one’s comfort zone. As far away as another person may be from you, ethnically or culturally or in a myriad of other ways, you can always appreciate their humanity. “From that humanity (we strive to) find the similarity.”
The Facebook page she created, Africa in Japan, is there to showcase the diverse projects and endeavors of people from Africa, living in Japan. She was kind enough to share her wisdom with us.