Young Lions 2019

Guleed Afhakame

The outsider looking in.

This morning I woke up in Amsterdam, overlooking a construction of apartments in the new development style that befits most cities. When I was 9 years old, I woke up to a large savanna, surrounded by family, a community feeling and an awareness of my immediate environment which felt like my entire world, even though it was just a small village. This was normal for me due to the close proximity of people, the language and indeed a couple of goats which would often be my responsibility. What I didn’t expect was to be thrown into a different environment aged 10 where everything that was familiar suddenly became distant and sometimes obsolete. A new language, a new savanna (if you can call it that), a new set of faces, principles, dresses, religions and responsibilities. And yet, when I would return to Somalia in my mid-twenties I felt like a tourist in my old home. Feeling partly Dutch and partly of my mother’s values, Somalian.

When you’re faced with being dropped into a new environment there is a feeling of having to start again. The only way to learn is to observe what’s around you. It’s exciting and daunting. New can be better or it can sometimes be worse. From my experience it’s the lessons you learn from being an outsider looking in which define who you could become.

What really excites me about going to the Cannes Lions festival is the ability to meet, learn and share ideas with the world’s biggest and best marketeers. From an industry perspective I believe that the brands which seek to stand out should also behave like outsiders looking in. Brands who continue to focus on areas which interest people, strengthen their positioning as they serve society. I feel like Cannes Lions heroes these brands.

With everything that Cannes Lions has to offer, I am in a constant state of FOMO. The themes I will focus on this year is Sustainability, Back to Basics & New Digital Era. The global perspective that Cannes Lions offers me will not only benefit my daily work, but also the travel community platform which I founded and principles that I can translate towards my ecommerce business.

However the most important part is to see how brands communicate a purpose beyond profit. Especially because of my background as a refugee and my dream of giving the same opportunity I got to the millions of children in Africa.

Written by Guleed Afhakame