Mercer Cluster

Local cultural center offers authentic African products

Ethan Thompson
The entrance to the Homeland Village Cultural Center.

Kianna Lanier, Contributing Writer

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Kirklyn Hodges, born and raised in Macon, worked most of his life in the construction business. After building knowledge on African culture while living in Atlanta, Hodges said he acquired the desire to educate the Macon community, specifically the youth, on his findings.

“That’s something that this city is so deprived of. People don’t have access to culture and their history, and for that people suffered,” Hodges said.

In order to strengthen cultural-awareness, Hodges said he was driven to create a business that would help in these areas. Using his experience in construction, Hodges began to create his business.

“It took me about three years working out of pocket to transform it,” Hodges said.

Ethan Thompson
The entrance to the Homeland Village Cultural Center.

The Homeland Village Cultural Center was officially opened in April 2001. Many people came to celebrate the long-awaited opening of the business including Mayor Jack Ellis.

Through his relationships with members of the African community in Macon, Hodges was able to provide authentic African shea butters and soaps and African-made clothing to his customers.

“We were getting a lot of our products from Africa because we had some connections with people in Ghana,” he said.

Hodges explained that the business grew slowly despite heavy efforts to advertise.

“People say it takes about five to seven years before you can really see a profit when you open a small business like this and that was the case with me,” he said.

Ethan Thompson
It looks like a bar, but instead of drinks it sells hair and skin products.

On top of Hodges struggle with growth, he said that the business suffered greatly as a result of the recession of 2008. Despite the challenges, he said he was determined to preserve the business.

“I’ve maintained because it’s such a desire for me to have something that I think the people really need,” Hodges said.

Today, Hodges said that Homeland Village Cultural Center provides its largest assortment of goods and services to date. Some of the available items include African books, health and beauty products, natural soaps and oils, medicinal herbs, clothes, artifacts, music, jewelry and incense.

Hodges said his desire to aid in the building of the youth lead him to provide other services such as storytelling, chess club, drum circle and vegan cooking classes.

There is a stage just outside the main building used for events aimed to highlight young artists. Hodges says that many artists come to showcase music, poetry and spoken word.

Ethan Thompson
A table of African art and statues. Also, a stack of hats.

Mercer sophomore Camryn Jackson said she agreed that different cultural perspectives should be available for people to learn about.

“I think that the youth, especially American youth, only know American culture and history so the fact that he is using things that aren’t so American, it’s allowing people to know about other things,” Jackson said.

Hodges said that his desire to educate the youth has been an incentive in maintaining the business, but he wants to see consistent support from customers so that the business will continue to grow for years to come.

“All these things we want to implement but people need to support it,” Hodges said.

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Local cultural center offers authentic African products