Author, podcast host and founder of award-winning teen girls platform Girl Got Faith, Emma Borquaye, wife of rapper ‘Guvna B’ speaks with Jane Knoop about the highs and lows of motherhood, and the realities of being married to a famous rapper
Emma and her husband, Isaac – better known to the world as rapper Guvna B – are natural, insatiable creatives. Books, music albums, online platforms, podcasts, speaking events…their response to life is to reflect it in a creative form that will connect with others; reaching people in spaces and places we find it hard to go to or live through.
“I’m an ideas person,” Emma summarises, when I ask her to describe herself. “My brain seems to be constantly active and creative – I get easily enthused and excited by things and I love anticipation. It works in my favour, but can also work against me too – like when I’m coming up with new ideas at 3am! It seems to me that life is full of possibility. This is why I love faith in Jesus; there is always more.”
Girl Got Faith
It was while working her first job for a media advertising agency, as a graduate fresh from LCC (the London College of Communication, part of the University of the Arts London), that Emma began to dream up Girl Got Faith – now a multi award-winning teen girl’s guide to a faith-filled life.
“It was a really reactive job,” Emma recalls, “there was lots of downtime”. While others on the graduate programme would use this time to scroll through social media or do their online shopping, Emma was researching how to build a website. It seems that for Emma, downtime is an involuntary breeding ground for new ideas. “Girl Got Faith was born out of my own experience growing up,” Emma shares, “I went to a massive school; there must have been other Christians there, but I felt like the only one.”
It seems to me that life is full of possibility
Emma grew up in Catford, south-east London, in a faith-filled home. From the age of seven she was wholeheartedly committed to Jesus. Surrounded by the company of a vibrant Christian community, walking with God came as second nature to her. Fast forward to her teenage years and she was known as ‘the Christian girl’, not pushy about her faith, but not shy about it either; fun-loving and engaging, somehow treading that thin line between Jesus-enthusiast and regular teen beautifully, so her friends were intrigued enough to go to church with her. But for Emma, living a faith-filled life at school wasn’t as easy as she made it look. “I had to choose to live differently,” she shares. “I never walked away from God – I don’t have one of those prodigal-daughter testimonies – but it wasn’t all plain sailing either.”
So, back to that desk in a London office, when a young 20-something-Emma’s creative juices were triggered. She began to wonder: “What if more was said to help girls navigate their teenage years with Jesus? “What if there was an online platform – a website – that could connect teen girls, so they didn’t feel so alone?” In every spare moment she started writing blogs and forming a website, having no idea how quickly it would grow into a significant movement.
Seven years on, Emma is clearly honoured that God has used Girl Got Faith in such a profound way, to impact an estimated 100,000 teenage girls through its resources, courses and events. “We’ve seen a whole generation of our audience through their secondary school years,” Emma reflects, “but when you do something for a while you also need to know when it’s time to look up and see afresh what God is doing.” Despite being immersed in this particular calling for years, Emma seems constantly willing to let her ideas evolve, change course and be influenced by others: “It’s time to consider what this next generation need, and what part Girl Got Faith has to play in supporting them.”
Emma is now a mum of two – Ezra (three) and Halle (eight months). There is potential for this new season to be a lonely journey again, but Emma is inspired and determined to face it head on, tapping into a supportive community to help her and others walk a faith-filled ‘mum life’. This has materialised into ‘Another Mother’, a new parenting podcast series by My Spring Harvest.
“I want to speak to others about parenting,” Emma shares, eager to glean wisdom from others. “Having Ezra was life-changing in the very best way, but all my expectations were completely smashed. The things I thought would be hard – like lots of the practical things – were OK, but I had completely underestimated how becoming a mum would affect me personally. You end up reflecting on your whole life and it feels like a complete rebirth of self. It’s amazing, but it’s so challenging too. Speaking to other parents brings so much hope. We’re on unique journeys, but there are threads that tie us together – a unity of motherhood.”
Emma’s first guest on ‘Another Mother’ wasn’t another mother, it was her husband, Isaac. Clearly, these two are a team. They met in 2012 when Emma was just 19 – set up by friends, who must be pretty chuffed with their matchmaking skills – dated for three years and married in 2015, just as Emma was launching Girl Got Faith. Two kids later and they’re working out how to find a new rhythm. “We have really different ways of working,” Emma shares: “I’m a planner – I need space for my ideas to form and develop – but Isaac just makes things happen. I always thought we wouldn’t work well together as we approach things so differently but, when it comes to parenting, we work pretty well. There’s often lots going on, with tons of logistical challenges, which we manage between us, but I feel the weight of it sometimes,” Emma confesses.
I had completely underestimated how becoming a mum would affect me
Isaac has a busy job; according to two-year-old Ezra in an Instagram reel a year ago, his dad’s work can be summarised as: “He do dancing, or wiggles or headaches or stamp stamping”. In other words, he is an internationally acclaimed, multi-award-winning rapper, author and broadcaster, who released his tenth album in May this year. But his work doesn’t distract him from being fully engaged and present as a father, up in the night holding Halle and thick as thieves with Ezra. In fact, his social media is more about his parenting than anything else, with his TikTok following surging due to his humorous, honest content as he seeks to reshape some of the misconceptions around fatherhood.
Rather than seeing Isaac’s work as detracting from family life, it is something they all embrace and participate in, with Ezra now really getting what his dad does, beyond the wiggles and stamping. Emma is unphased by her husband being in the public eye: “It’s all I’ve ever known, so it’s normal,” she says, pausing before adding: “it’s just an honour to be alongside him in it. I get to see the ‘why’ behind everything he does, and it’s exciting to be able to see the impact of his work.”
Where Grandad Lives
I ask Emma if she’s ever doubted God’s goodness, or his presence with her. She seems to have a gift of faith – an optimistic spirit – and my hunch is right. “My testimony is one of God as a faithful friend and father,” she tells me. “I’ve never really doubted or questioned whether I’d call myself a Christian.” But faith-filled Emma is also realistic about the complexities of life and doesn’t shy away from them. Emma’s gift of faith doesn’t stop her from weathering seasons when they come and asking the questions her soul needs to ask: “As life gets real, I ask more questions, but I also see God walking us through the hard times.”
I see God walking us through the hard times
Recently, the creative Borquaye duo have authored their first children’s book, Where Grandad Lives (Hodder & Stoughton). “Where does your Grandad live?” Zadie asks Ezra at the beginning of the book. It’s somewhere special, but where? Zadie explores different ideas; could he live in a treehouse, or a sweet shop? The answer in the end is surprising for Zadie – Ezra’s grandad lives in his heart. This moving conversation between two children explores coping with grief from a child’s perspective, introducing helpful metaphors and picturing the children running and playing as they dip in and out of what we adults would deem serious conversations, in a real, gentle, yet profound way.
“Isaac’s dad died suddenly of cancer in July 2017. When it comes to grief, both Isaac and I feel that it’s important to talk; to share memories of his dad and not be afraid of bringing him into conversation. We want our kids to know that there are people who have gone before them – we want to keep the memory of Isaac’s dad alive for them too.” It was Emma’s idea to write a book – a 3am sort of idea, popping into her head when she was pregnant with Ezra. She initially thought it would be something just for their family, but when she shared it with Isaac the idea magnified. Between them – with Emma’s creative ideas and Isaac’s can-do attitude – their latest idea is, yet again, open for all of us; hinting of heaven and bringing us hope.
Follow Emma @emmaborquaye
The ‘Another Mother’ podcast is available through Apple, Spotify, Google and YouTube.