Cosmopolitan Afrikan Power Couple…
Our next couple in our “Power Couple Series,” are Patrick Anthony Howell & Hanna Wagari; their power within the strong bonds they’ve cultivated through the practice of family rituals, and the many cultures that they both combine together in their daily customs and they align with everything they do individually, as a couple. This ability extends beyond the family to include friends and their community; creating feelings of true closeness and uniqueness. They create stories through customs that continue to tell their story, which is as simple as the book Patrick Anthony Howell has written, “Yes We Be,” or as beautiful as the jewelry line, “Mombasa,” founded by Hanna, and is infused with her creativity each stone tells a story, of past memories and the legacy they want to leave for their son Christian. A legacy of an abundant life filled with love, traditions, and respect. We’ve only given you a short summary but let them tell you the rest of the story.
What do you and your spouse do for a living?
Patrick is an award-winning veteran of the finance industry and banking. He is currently co-owner of a decade old investor relations firm. With San Diego Investment Conference, he has worked with nearly 250 companies for 130 events in 17 markets nationally and internationally. His current firm, Global Capital Network, presents public and private middle capital firms to audiences of investors around Southern California, around the nation and world. His symposiums and conferences have featured the participation of national leaders as former US Labor Secretary Robert Reich, Herbalife co-founder Dick Marconi and former SEC Chair Christopher Cox in business and government.
Hanna is a senior executive for an internationally distributed cosmetics firm full time as the head of their international strategies. She has worked in marketing for biotechnology, international cosmetics, and retail for the past three decades, specializing in marketing and branding. We have always looked at our salaried positions as paid MBA’s to fail, succeed, earn and learn, learn, learn. Hanna is also co-founder of her own international brand of jewelry. Her jewelry line, Mombasa worked with Angela Bassett on the press junket for Black Panther and was featured in Essence, People and In Style magazines. Patrick also moonlights as a writer, poet, and author, blogging for various platforms as the Huffington Post, “Into the Void” and various literary journals. His book, “Yes We Be” debuted at the Los Angeles Festival of Books earlier this year and was soft launched during Afro-Futurism month. Two of his chapbooks were sent as love notes to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as part of the Resistance.
Together, we helped raise $1.5M for SenatorObama in 2007 and are proud of how our work helped turned red Orange County, purple. We’re getting geared up for 2020. California’s junior senator Kamala Harris is looking good.
How does it compromise family life sometimes?
Well, that’s what we do. But that’s not who we are. We are parents. We are adventurists. We are yogis. We are spouses. Son and daughter. Sister and brother. Partners. Friends. We are people. We are perfectionists. We are our best selves. We are our worst selves. We’re just humans trying to get through it (and it gets messy sometimes). But we are also seekers in search of our best selves. We seek the Spirit Force of the Universe in all that we do. Failure (and if you are a successful entrepreneur that is an occupational hazard) comes with a very specific set of challenges. Success (and if you are a successful entrepreneur that is the inevitable silver lining) does as well.
Sometimes you have to compromise family time to work on evenings, working weekends, traveling etc. So we learn to cover for each other even on the last minute notice. There can be a lot of frustration. But there is always the counterbalance of grace. And, of course, love.
What do you do to balance work home life?
Hanna does yoga. She has been practicing yoga since 2012. Patrick likes to play basketball, do isometrics, mold his son, swim in the ocean, play chess and make dreams into reality.
What do you like to do as a family on weekends or vacations?
Be lazy. Do nothing at all. Listen to music. Go to the movies. Catch up on Netflix. Work on our dreams. Walk our dogs, Trinidad and Tobago. Spend time with family – Ababa, grandma, cousins, uncles, and aunts, invite swim teammates and classmates for dinners. Travel for business and bring the family. We have had the opportunity to travel nationally in the United States and internationally to Europe, the Caribbean, South and Central America. This summer we are looking forward to the opportunity to travel to Europe where Patrick has a writing conference in Recanati, Italy. These opportunities come every now and then and we really cherish the opportunities to explore rest and be challenged and surprised by the world in ways that are spiritually challenging and enhancing.
But, we also love to and need to work all sort of odd hours (“if we don’t do it, it doesn’t get done”). Hanna does trunk shows and photo shoots throughout southern California. Patrick has investor roadshows and poetry readings. And this is in addition to all of #Shark Heart’s activities which include tutoring, sleeping, running track, swimming, eating, working out and just being a kid.
Tell me briefly about your child?
#SharkHeart (that’s what we call Christian, our son) is a guitar player, standout swimmer with USA Swimming, Catholic school diocese track and field champion, basketball and soccer player, chess player, lover of math, science, reading and comprehension, entrepreneur and published artist and writer. But he also loves Nickelodeon, Disney HD and knows about a lot of online video games, we know nothing about. From his Ababa, who lives with us, he learns about gardening, Amharic (Ethiopian language) and what it is to be a good Christian (pun intended). He has two dogs, Trinidad (Jack Russell Fox Terrier) and Tobago (Blue Brindle Retriever), who he loves to run around the house and wreak havoc (also known as “fun”). And none of these are the greatest things about Christian.
The greatest thing about Christian is he is a good son, a good person with a good heart, grounded, hardworking and humble. He has a sharp sense of humor and is a total goofball. His greatest accomplishment will be living his life as a prayer to God, brimming with the full glass of his innocence (wisdom), wonder and awe. Translated his name means – “Eminent follower of Christ in whom God is great… twice.” We’re not fans of his thought. No. Not at all.
What is important for your child to know?
It is important for him to know first and foremost that his parents love him unconditionally. And while that may be cliché, perhaps even simple, it is not easy. It is an ongoing exercise in patience, love, hope, and vision. It is also an exercise in discipline, dedication, devotion and doing the hard work of mastering ourselves and growing. We take pride in being our son’s parents but that requires hard work and day in and day out humility, ongoing sacrifices. We work hard at being wise and spiritually developed. Also, it is important for him to know that his parents are people, we make mistakes and to develop his own compass of values outside of ours.
It is important for him to know that winning is the art form of mastering losing – that while you cannot always win, you can, most times, have a winning attitude. Always get up and you never lose.
It is important for him to know that he can do anything he sets his mind to – because his ancestors have before him, his great-grandparents did, his grandparents have, his cousins, uncles, and aunts do, his parents do, and he does, can and will continue to do so. The registry of excellence his DNA.
It is important for him to have compassion for others and exercise that compassion daily and as he finds success and light. When we serve the least amongst us, we tend to God’s flesh. Compassion is how we care for and show our love for God as He cares for us.
It is important for Christian to know who his people are and what they have done and continue to do. We are of the Amhara, Oromo and Igbo tribes. We are Ethiopian, Panamanian and Trinidadian. We are Nigerian, Barbadian, Costa Rican and Jamaican. We are also the Irish and English clans (14-28%). We are international citizens. We are butchers, housewives, beauticians, professors, managers, survivors, successes, entrepreneurs, entertainers, professional athletes, financiers, executives, marketers and branders, doctors, leaders, and attorneys.
Christian Wagari Howell Wagari is highly blessed and favored. It is important that Christian knows he is above all else, a member of the human race. Love will always win.
Are you both active with your child’s school activities?
Yes. It has been a team endeavor and family value from when Christian was conceived. We are committed to excellence in education. Not just classroom but Life 101. “To Thyself, Be True” is the edict that is the household mantra. You cannot master the world. But you can master yourself.
How do you handle problems that arise from your child’s school or other children?
A lot of national media attention has been given to the physical harm which children are exposed to whether it is because of gun violence or this nation’s ongoing uncivil war over race. All of our children, however, are also exposed to emotional, psychological, social, political and spiritual harms. In so many ways, America is as wealthy as it is spiritually bankrupt. We are patient and God loving, but we are not fools. We are wise as serpents or the Anansi spider of the Akan tradition. In our hearts, we are as innocent as doves. We have had problems with the N-word in private schools and so-called Christian institutions; we have had challenges with spiritually immature people approaching our son in a way that is unbecoming of adults’ much less educational figures or humans.
We get smarter, better and savvier as we go along. It’s not easy to see the Confederate flag posted outside your son’s classroom, particularly when you are paying for that education, lol. We even had a teacher ask Christian to perform the role of slave Crispus Attucks before his white classmates who assigned roles of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. Needless to say, he called in sick that day with a doctor’s appointment. And after a discussion with the principal and teacher, presented to the class as Benjamin Banneker, the African who designed Washington D.C. For international studies, he will present himself as the Malian King Mensa Musa.
But we guess that is the point and part of the education as well? To learn about how America works, how the institutions of racism and discrimination work (how it can be subversive and enacted by those in authority with zero concern for another’s humanity) – it’s important for him to identify the nonsense but not participate in the nonsense. How racism and discrimination works in coordination with American democracy, capitalism, education, and Christianity. It is important for him to understand how to stand up, outclass, and master spiritual bullies, even when they are the so-called authority. It is important for him to know he cannot love something that does not love him. It is important for him to learn the system, master the system because this is how we make a way for our children, for the future. And the future has zero limitations.
How important are family traditions to both?
It is who we are. It’s that simple. We make new traditions out of our own family traditions. We celebrate International Day instead of Thanksgiving. The Ethiopian New Year and Christmas also play a role in our home. From Patrick’s side of the family, which includes Caribbean and Yoruba traditions, reliance upon education, dedication to excellence and family all come into play in our home on a daily and weekly basis.
Halloween: Christian likes Halloween because he gets the most candy Christmas: Christian likes Christmas because of all the presents.
What was the most important thing you learned from parents?
Hanna learned from her parents: “It is hard work and to be a good person.”
Patrick learned from his parents, 1.) I can do anything I set my mind to 2.) for example, I have learned that love is endless. 3.) For example, I have learned that the mind has no limits when connected to the infinite source of the universe.
We both know that our love for our parents, from our parents, represents a much greater,
infinite source of love.
What do your children think is the coolest thing about their family?
Christian says, “how we always stay close together. Sometimes we have arguments but we always grow in love, understanding, patience, and hope. We always go back to our roots with love.”
What do you feel is your responsibility to your community?
Create opportunities. Mombasa partners with artisans in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Mombasa. Mombasa seeks to redefine luxury as handmade and or hand-touched goods, with a vision to collaborate with artisans around the world, complete the circle of women helping women, and break the cycle of poverty by paying a fair wage. We believe that when women are given opportunity, their families benefit and their communities flourish. We have partnered with I Pour Life to effectuate social change for a community of at-risk-women in Ethiopia.
Set a standard and be the best that we can be. Shine the light. Christian and I have also worked with Christ, Our Redeemer and our pastor in Orange County, the 100 Black Men of Orange County and other activities in the community. We feed the hungry. For example, we had the opportunity to hear Kareem Abdul Jabbar speak at Point Loma and went to Jack in the Box where there were homeless people keeping warm. We bought two extra meals and shared. I remember my Dad would do the same thing.
How important is it for you to pass on empowering messages to people in your public and private life?
We aim to be master communicators. We love our people. That means in our public and private conversations always putting forth positive energy for people to believe in themselves. Basically, communicating at the higher frequencies. Or, as a certain first lady has been oft quoted, “When they go low, we go high.”
How do they handle traditional role reversal with family time or work time?
Role reversals say who? The institutions? Society? We are partners – we do what needs to get done. We all do what we need to do.
What do you do when you have a disagreement?
We argue. We keep quiet. We love one another. We do the opposite of that. We seek help from family and friends. We pray. We meditate. We read. We cry. We apologize. We forgive. We heal. We become stronger, better. We keep moving forward. We love.
Do you often write goals or do you just let things come?
Everybody in the family has vision boards. Hanna likes to just let things come. She has a meditation room. One of Patrick’s favorite books is “Think and Grow Rich”. That business publication by Napoleon is a metaphysical book that translates principals as hope, positivity, and energy in concrete business results. It is timeless.
What is important that you both remember in your relationship?
Love wins. It manifests emotionally in peace, financially with wealth, spiritually with health. Or, has become a mantra in our home “health, wealth and svelte!”
What inspires you about your spouse?
Hanna – Patrick is a visionary who is able to see into the higher realms of human potential and possibility. The true visionary walks the fine and often challenging line between the inspired world – intuition, reflection, the Divine-inspired – and the material world of action, effects, systems, powerful special interests, ego, status quo, and tangible results. As such, Patrick is the conduit between these dimensions of higher thought and our physical reality. Patrick doesn’t settle for the norm if the norm is mediocre, or worse, dehumanizing or destructive. He doesn’t allow himself to be hypnotized by the limiting mindset or the mass hallucination about what’s popular or “normal”. Instead, he is interested in pulling people up; he invigorates and stirs a greater possibility.
Patrick – Hanna is the personification of Grace. I’ve watched her closely for 12 years and there is a quiet undeniable force of grace is all that she attends. She is also blessed and highly favored. Her father lives with us, so I know where the conduit is that fuses her to God and His immortal spirit. She is a hard worker. She does not seek credit for herself. She looks out for all of her friends and family in all that she attends and is loyal as only a queen lioness of the pride can be. She is tough, much tougher than me and does not give up. She is nobody’s fool. She is the incarnation of beauty and her beauty comes from her soul.
What advice would you give to other couples?
Don’t do it. (lol) Do it. Forgive. Don’t hold grudges. They can grow into Demons.