Djimon Hounsou and DHF, Philanthropy in Action.

by | Feb 26, 2024 | Culture, Entertainment, Events and Competitions, Issues, Lifestyle, Sport, Talent, Uncategorized

  • From Benin to Hollywood and keeping your roots.
  • The power to influence lasting social change.
  • Strategic and enduring solutions.
  • The significance of history.
  • Connecting the African Diaspora.
  • Modern-day slavery and human trafficking.

Benin-born, Oscar Nominated actor, Djimon Hounsou is well known for his starring roles in such films as Gladiator, Blood Diamond, Fast & Furious, In America and The King’s Man, although some might say his most powerful was as a slave who leads a mutiny in Steven Spielberg’s Amistad, for which he was nominated Best Actor for a Golden Globe. But even though Djimon has achieved success as Africa’s leading man, he has never taken his journey for granted: from Benin, West Africa, to a Paris park bench, discovery as a male model and a leap of faith to Los Angeles where music video parts led to TV roles and, then his breakout in Amistad.

Nor has he forgotten where he comes from, which is a big part of why he created the Djimon Hounsou Foundation (DHF), knowing that “Philanthropy in Action” means the power to influence lasting, generational social change.

Philanthropy can be viewed as one of the cornerstones of a stable society – even more critical in an era of social, political and environmental discordance – and the DHF is an organisation where philanthropy not only means seeking strategic & enduring solutions but also remaining culturally vital and relevant while being a force for action.


The Wire speaks exclusively to the DHF Spokesman Max Plank about history, roots and “Philanthropy in action”.

(The Wire) In today’s society, where culture wars often obscure context, how significant do you consider history to be?

(Max Plank) The Akan Tribe in Ghana revered an ancient symbol known as the Sankofa Bird. It depicts a bird that twists its beak backward to retrieve a precious seed or egg. The seed/egg symbolizes both, the knowledge of history and future generations. It teaches us that a society’s progress depends on its ability to learn from its past. For that reason, our nonprofit, the Djimon Hounsou Foundation adopts a modern interpretation of the Sankofa bird as its logo. Today’s culture wars often try to obfuscate, neglect, or rewrite history. This is very counterproductive as we must look backward to move forward.

(TW) What is the mission of the Djimon Hounsou Foundation?

(M.P) Our mission is (1) to strengthen Pan-African identity and self-awareness by reconnecting Afro-Descendants with their roots, history, and culture, (2) to combat modern-day slavery & human trafficking, and (3) to create engaging opportunities for communities to experience Black history, community, and culture at an intimate, personal level. By educating about the causes, stakes, and lasting consequences of slavery, our nonprofit aims to motivate people to join in helping shape a more equitable future for all.

(T.W) What impact does the DHF hope to achieve by strengthening connections among the African Diaspora?

(M.P) Djimon Hounsou has been dreaming about reconnecting the African Diaspora for a long time. When he starred in Stephen Spielberg’s slave revolt movie Amistad, he connected with the history of slavery in a very traumatic way. For years, he refused to watch his performance in the movie because of the painful memories it invoked.

Living abroad he also noticed how many Afro Descendants felt disconnected from the birthplace of their ancestors. It reminded him of what Marcus Garvey once said: “A people without knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture, is like a tree without roots”. Djimon wants to help grow back these roots through his nonprofit and empower people of African descent to rediscover part of their lost identity, cultural roots, and heritage. Imagine the profound impact this can make on people. I feel that this has the power to enrich and touch so many lives.

(T.W) What are DHF’s plans for the Africa Reconnect Series?

(M.P) The AFRICA RECONNECT Series aims to symbolically reverse the direction of the slave trade and celebrate homecoming through symbolic running and walking events. Our courses trace symbolic routes along West Africa, the Americas, and Europe, continents that predominantly participated in the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

We are currently planning the third edition of the first leg of this series, RUN RICHMOND 16.19. This event takes place in Virginia, U.S.A., and sends our participants on a journey through 400 years of African American history – a history they can see, touch, and feel.

In the following years, we intend to establish the other two legs of AFRICA RECONNECT in Liverpool, UK, and Ouidah, Benin. Together the three cities form a triangle of hope between the three continents. If you’d like to learn more, look at

(T.W) Do you find that awareness helps to reduce the problem of modern-day slavery and human trafficking?

(M.P) Awareness certainly helps to bring more attention to this pressing problem. During the Transatlantic Slave Trade (1619-1808) an estimated 10-12 million Africans were sold as property and shipped abroad to the New World. As horrifying as this was, many of us think of slavery as a relic of the past. Shockingly, this could not be further from the truth. According to the Global Slavery Index, over 40 million people are living in slavery today. In other words, nearly four times as many people live in modern-day slavery today than there were during the period of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. This is unfathomable!


If you would like to know more the African Diaspora reconnecting, gaining awareness about modern slavery and other DHF activities go to: DHF

C.S.A.’s monthly cultural portal, The WIRE connects the dots of culture. With concise stories, many with video content, take a premium dive into the world of African entertainment & cultural fluidity. It’s one thing to be hip to what’s happening but it is another to know why.

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