Yvonne Mbanefo is a London-based multidisciplinary professional, Cultural consultant and Historian with a focus on Igbo, African and Black heritage. Her career sits at the intersection of digital media, cultural heritage and education, deploying technology as an active tool to educate people through storytelling.
In studying pre-colonial Igbo life, Yvonne has developed a deep interest in the relationship between everyday life, individual experiences, displacement, migration, power structures, and cultural forms in different communities, as well as ways in which to use them to foster cultural intelligence across societies.
Her work as a cultural consultant is informed by her extensive work in Higher education, Information Technology, Digital media, Applied linguistics and Cultural heritage. She uses Igbo, African and Black cultural storytelling to frame history and help people understand modern global interactions.
Yvonne helps Storytellers avoid lazy stereotyping by getting involved in all relevant aspects of a project to ensure that the end product is an accurate representation of Igbo, Black, Africa and its people…whether it is set in a fantasy world with fictional characters, real life with known people or contemporary fiction.
Born in London, England and raised in Enugu, Nigeria, Yvonne's interest in Igbo culture and heritage was greatly influenced by her maternal grandparents whom she spent most of her childhood school holidays with. Her grandfather, who was a headmaster, titled community leader (Oke Nze) and Igbo/English translator to colonial administrators and missionaries, turned everything into a learning opportunity. She inadvertently picked up an interest in cultural knowledge, history and translation skills from him. Her grandmother, a community women's leader and trader, taught her a lot about village life, songs and stories in Igbo language.
A child of university academics who spent her formative years in the University community within the walls of University of Nigeria Enugu Campus, she also developed a thirst for knowledge and research.
As a mother to second generation British-Nigerian children living in England, She started creating Igbo language learning materials when she could not find interesting Igbo storybooks and videos for her children to learn Igbo language and culture with. This led to her creating the popular Learn Igbo Youtube channel, as well as best-selling and award-winning Igbo dictionary for Children, and other published language learning books and online Igbo learning resources.
Yvonne has worked in different projects relating to Igbo, African and black heritage with a wide range of organisations and professionals including Film makers, Authors, Government agencies, Schools, Radio and TV Stations, Theatres, Fashion designers, Museums, Libraries, Recording and Dance / Choreography Studios.
She is passionate about democratising heritage through digital access as well as the digitisation of cultural heritage from the different regions in Africa. Yvonne is also an advocate for the decolonization of colonial archives and collections around the world.