Our Early Years Founder Tells Us About Herself And Her Adinkra Affirmation Cards!

We believe in the power of affirmations. They are a way to speak to yourself and guide your mind and soul. In those days of uncertainty, they will help you see the dawn of better days. With your words, you have the ability to start again and live life with confidence. We asked Elsie – curator of @our.earlyyears – to tell us how words impact her everyday life. She is the creative mind behind Our Early Years’s Adinkra affirmation cards.     

Elsie Cullen
Founder of Our Early Years, Our peoples


Elsie, can you tell us first about yourself and how the Adinkra affirmation cards project was born? What does this project mean to you?

“I started off as an artist and creator and my journey with art and poetry started in Primary School. For me, affirmations are prayers and I’ve always believed in the power of mixing art with poetry and affirmations. In 2014 I met my sis Mutulu Oblongata and in 2016 she gave birth to my goddaughter. Mutulu, who is Ghanaian, asked me to create colourful Adinkra flashcards as an alternative education tool to raise our baby gehl. After a while I developed the symbols into books. Then in 2018, myself and Mutulu decided to rebrand the cards into Adinkra affirmation cards.

This opportunity to fuse legacy and culture with healing and wellbeing is an honour and it became a personal passion to redraw each of the symbols and write the affirmations. It feels like a gift which allows me to honour my own childhood. My Mum first came to this country from Nigeria with my big sister and the clothes on her back. As we grew, she realised there were no books about Black history or our culture. So, she handmade books for us and the nursery school she worked at, based on Nigerian fables.”



How do the affirmation cards fit in your routine? Can you tell us to what extent they have impacted your life so far?

“It’s interesting, I think if I had this habit of affirming good things into my life when I was younger, things would have been different. Writing affirmations was an integral part of my recovery journey after having a lot of issues with self hate, depression and even suicidal thoughts. I had a lot of stuff going on with my emotions and sense of identity. I remember I used to write a lot: my fears, my pains, my doubts, and that was always depressing and sad. 

One day I decided it was enough and that instead of writing my pain I would start writing prayers and affirmations. Since then, I’ve always used them alongside my art as a way to serve others. 

Nowadays I’m always thinking of new ways to create so don’t often spend regular time with my creations. However, whenever I read the cards and do my own picks I love the messages I get from them – they make me blush!”

One of Elsie’s old affirmation


What about these particular times? Do you see a greater impact?

“Since the pandemic I’ve been doing Affirmation sessions on Instagram Live. People join and we do affirmations together, they always say how it helps them reflect and feel more confident about themselves. I would like to do them at least everyday, just to offer more. A lot of people benefit from just having that regular voice of positive encouragement.”


We loved this late publication of yours on your Insta account. These words resonate even more with us in the current global context. How does this message translate in your life?


“I’m really someone who appreciates simple things in life like seeing people smile, watching sunrise and looking at the stars – they have always had a great impact on me. The little things make me realise there is a lot to be grateful for. I’m also a nurse and so I’m faced with how precious life is everyday. That day when I made that post, one of our patients who was only 24 years old had just died. It was a very sad moment and I realised that could easily be me. But the fact that I’m here….there is just so much to be grateful for. 

That’s the message I wanted to share. I wanted to share how important it is to live life fully. Being engaged in what you do, laughing as much as possible and dancing whenever you can.”





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