More than a wife and mother, Koshie Mills is a power broker and a well-respected businesswoman in entertainment. In 2018, she created the Heirs of Afrika Annual International Women of Power Awards luncheon as a solution to creating a safe space for Black women across the African diaspora.
Inspired by “witnessing the disconnect between Africans from the continent and Africans in the diaspora,” Mills sought to fill a void in the Black community,” she told ESSENCE. “As a Black woman myself, the first thing I thought of doing is showing us how we can be together, see each other in the same space, get familiar with each other and see that we’re no different.”
Though she acknowledged that some Black women have a different upbringing than others, she believes that “we’re still connected by DNA” and Black women are “connected by the fact that we come from Africa, no matter what geographic place you’re in.”
Mills decided she could show Black women better than she could tell them, which led her to produce her yearly event. “I understand that we influence our households the most, and we have more power than we think,” she explained. “If I can change a Black woman, I can change the concept, the village, the home, and it expands beyond. There was a palpable disconnect, and I just felt led to stand in the gap and bridge it.”
As she reflected on how far her awards luncheon has come since its conception, Mills was nothing less than proud and astonished at what was accomplished at this year’s event on August 8. “I had the privilege of having every woman out there float in their majesty, float in their world, float in their queendom,” Mills said. “We had the audacity to feel that.”
It’s for that reason Mills said it feels “surreal” to have been able to host such a powerful gathering four years in a row. “I remember crying the whole time because the dream had manifested into real people, real space, real seats. Something that was just in my head was real.”
The event was hosted by philanthropist and actress Monique Coleman, and this year’s honorees included Congresswoman Maxine Waters who received the Warrior “Adinkrahene” Award, Ivy McGregor who was presented with the “Sankofa” Award, and Ledisi who was honored with the Entertainment Roar “Nya Gyidi” Award. Celebrity presenters included The CW’s All American actress Karimah Westbrook, beauty influencer Shalom Blac and FOX’s 9-1-1 actress Aisha Hinds.
Mills admitted that putting together this year’s ceremony was “extremely difficult” and she even considered going digital in anticipation of another lockdown. While trying to consider the safety of nearly more than 150 attendees with a California mask mandate in place, Mills knew people wanted to be able to sit next to one another, hug and fellowship. Requiring negative COVID tests assured the safety and comfortability of attendees to bask in the celebratory nature of the gathering.
“When the opportunity comes for us to shine and walk in the true royal crown of our heritage, that’s what Heirs of Afrika is all about,” she said. “God’s spoken to my heart that it’s beyond the dialogues. We’ve broken the ground and started the conversation. Now it’s about introducing the heirs who are not in this continent to understand that they are just as needed there. There’s an inheritance of a whole continent waiting on them. They need to make that connection and come home.”