Category: Culture


GHANA – A NATION IN RETROSPECTIVE, FRIDAY 4 AUGUST, 18.00 – 21.45, VICTORIA & ALBERT MUSEUM

This Friday the V&A Museum invites you to a special event..  ‘Ghana – A Nation in Retrospective’ with a welcome and opening address at 18.00 by Lord Boateng of Akyem and Wembley.

Historians, cultural theorists, scholars, museum curators, artists and performers of the diaspora, will look retrospectively at a nation that over the last 60 years has shaped a modern vision, and established Ghanaians as trend-setting ‘Afropolitans’.

Join them to review and re-contextualise your history, heritage, culture and future by exploring Ashanti Goldweights & Regalia(1874); William Ansah Sessarakoo (1736 – 1770); kings, family and colonialism in Keta (mid 1880s – mid 20th century); women, cloth & culture; the story of Pan-Africanism (late 1700s – 1963); an immersive simulation of Nkrumah’s WE MUST UNITE NOW OR PERISH (1963); a re-discovery of heritage through food; pop-up photo salon; soulful rock, and DJs with an Independence soundtrack.

Date: Friday, 4 August 2017

Time: 18.00 – 21.45

Venue: Sackler Centre Reception, V&A Museum

Ticket price: £3.00 – £5.00

For More information and to book Tickets visit – https://www.vam.ac.uk/event/1KWB4x8a/ghana-a-nation-in-retrospective-aug-2017

Come to a free screening at the BFI and apply to work in film… Courtesy of The Voice Newspaper

Ahead of BFI’s Future Film Festival, The Voice, Soul Film and BFI will present Nathan Bryon’s web series Reality on February 10!

We’ve been premiering each episode of Reality on The Voice Online, and now is the chance to watch all 5 episodes on the big screen, situation in BFI’s largest theatre!

The social commentary comedy web-series focuses on the young black British experience, as they discuss hot topics including #Blacklivesmatter, Notting Hill Carnival and #risqueselfies.

To attend the free screening, book you’re tickets here

There will also be a post drinks reception in the Blue Room following the screening. Tickets to this are strictly limited and available on a first come first served basis by booking here.

The Film Distributor’s Association (FDA) and Film Export UK are inviting applications from anyone hoping to work in the film industry.

The scheme aims to recruit a majority of candidates from these underrepresented groups in the film industry – Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people and those who consider themselves to be disabled.

Applications are now open for the trainee scheme which runs from April to December 2017. For further information click here.

Ikenna Azuike focuses on Ghana in fourth series of What’s Up Africa!

From religion to royals, there is no frontier critically acclaimed Nigerian-born vlogger, Ikenna Azuike, won’t explore for popular satirical news segment, What’s Up Africa.

Returning to screens on Wednesday 4th May, as part of BBC World News’ Focus on Africa, Ikenna will bring news from across Ghana together with his trademark tongue-in-cheek humour.

In the new series of What’s Up Africa, Ikenna rubs shoulders with prominent Ghanaian personalities, such as popular musician, Wanlov, who will introduce an exclusive song for What’s Up Africa viewers. Also featuring this season are famous film producer, Shirley Frimpong-Manso, and actor, Adjetey Anang. But it doesn’t stop there, as Ikenna also speaks to Ghanaian king, Nana Ansah Kwao.

“This is the most fun and exciting series of What’s Up Africa yet,” said Ikenna Azuike. “We’re digging deep into Ghana for the first five weeks of the show; unravelling complex issues with laughter and showcasing Ghana’s highlights to the world.”

What’s Up Africa airs two 90-second episodes a week on Wednesdays and Fridays making it more clickable and easily shareable on social media. Wednesday’s episodes will be in-depth look into a specific country, whilst Friday’s episodes are round-ups of the latest news from across the continent.

What’s Up Africa will be broadcast every Wednesday and Friday on Focus on Africa from 17:30 GMT on BBC World News and on the BBC’s partner stations: Canal 2 in Cameroon; Metro TV in Ghana; Power TV in Liberia; MBC in Malawi; One Africa Television in Namibia; SBLC in Sierra Leone, Star TV in Tanzania; Urban TV and TV West in Uganda; and ZNBC in Zambia.

The new series, created especially for the BBC, is a co-production between the BBC and Dutch media organisation, RNW Media. The first half of the series will air between 4th May and 3rd June. The series will then resume on 17th August, focussing on Malawi. The series will conclude on 16th September.

You can also view the episode across a range of the BBC’s social media platforms including Facebook.com/bbcafrica on Twitter @BBCAfrica and online at BBC.com/Africa.

The story of ‘Akuaba’

In Kojo Antwi’s song ‘Akuaba’ he describes the beauty of a woman he’s seen – the slimness of her nose, the whiteness of her teeth, and then the best feature of all, her figure, which he compares to that of an ‘akuaba’. Now to those of you not familiar with Ghanaian culture, ‘akuaba’ is a fertility doll who’s legend and tradition is still very much a part of Ghanaian culture today.

 

 

69301-FIGUASAN_1466ALegend has it that there once lived a woman called Akua who was unable to conceive. Because Akan society is matrilineal, it is extremely important that Akan women are able to give birth, preferably female children to carry the family line. So women who are barren often find themselves ostracised in their communities. The story goes that Akua visited a fetish priest who carved her a wooden doll to carry on her back. Akua took the doll home and cared for it as she would a real baby. She was laughed at by those in her village, who referred to the doll as Akua’ba’, meaning Akua’s child. Soon Akua fell pregnant and gave birth to a girl and it is said that from then on women adopted the practice of carrying ‘akuaba’ on their backs in order to conceive.

 

Genuine akuaba figures are female, carved to represent the Akan ideal of beauty; a flat disc like head featuring a high oval forehead, slightly flattened in actual practice by moulding a new born infant’s cranial bones on a round stone. The rings on an akuaba’s neck represents rolls of fat, which in Akan culture is a sign of beauty, prosperity and health. Small scars are made below the eyes for medicinal purposes to protect against convulsions and a small delicate mouth is set low on the face. Akuba figures also serve as protection against deformities and even ugliness – when a woman is pregnant she’s warned against looking at anything or anyone unattractive lest it influences the features of her unborn child. Most akuaba have abstracted horizontal arms and a cylindrical torso with simple indications of breasts and navel, with the torso ending in a base rather than legs.

 

Though carrying akuaba on your back to conceive is not as widespread as it was in the past, the practice is still carried out in

A woman carrying 'Akuaba' on her back

A woman carrying ‘Akuaba’ on her back

some part of Ghana today. If  a woman wanted to conceive, she would visit a local shrine accompanied by a elder female family member. A carving would then be commissioned by the local priest, who would then give the doll to the woman, sometimes along with traditional medicine. The woman would then carry the doll on her back tied by cloth the way a real child would, and she would also feed and bathe the doll – by doing this she’s thought to have a better chance of having a beautiful healthy baby. Once the woman conceives and successfully gives birth, the akuaba is often returned to the shrine as a form of offering to the spirits for granting them a child. Families sometimes also keep their akuaba dolls as a memorial if the child died.


Today akuaba figures are mass produced, often used a souvenirs or decorational pieces in the home. However its symbolism is still prevalent, with parents often buying these dolls for their daughter to play with, in hopes that it will influence child-bearing in their adult lives.

 

By Yaa Nyarko (@yaa_fremah)

From Ghana with Love

Portrait of a Ghanaian woman, Eva, in London, 1960s. (James Barnor/Courtesy Autograph ABP)

Portrait of a Ghanaian woman, Eva, in London, 1960s. (James Barnor/Courtesy Autograph ABP)

In 1957, after over a century of colonization, Ghana gained independence from Britain. Just 30 years prior, in 1929, photographer James Barnor was born in the country’s capital Accra — then the Gold Coast colony — and over the course of a career that spanned more than six decades would become one of Ghana’s leading and most well-known photographers. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Barnor created a definitive portfolio of street and studio portraiture depicting societies in transition: images of a burgeoning sub-Saharan African nation moving toward independence, and a European capital city becoming a multicultural metropolis.

Jim Bailey and friends at a Drum party, Chorkor beach, Accra, 1950s. (James Barnor/Courtesy Autograph ABP)

Jim Bailey and friends at a Drum party, Chorkor beach, Accra, 1950s. (James Barnor/Courtesy Autograph ABP)

Ghana in the 1950s was experiencing a radiance of post-colonization as well as its “heyday of Highlife,” a fusion of traditional African rhythms, Latin calypso and jazz influences that would soon spread across Ghana’s borders to West Africa and beyond. Its rising cosmopolitan class in the capital of Accra was breathing energy into a multitude of areas — from fashion to food to art — and was a vivid reflection of the country’s post-independent attitude. Barnor captured all of this energy, playing at once artist, director, photographer and technician, by offering a well-rounded portrait of Ghanian life from many walks of life.

On Oct. 8, Autograph ABP and the gallery Clementine de la Feronniere will release the book “Ever Young” showcasing Barnor’s extensive archive, followed by a corresponding photo exhibition in Paris through Nov. 21.

In 1953, after completing his apprenticeship and running an open-air mobile studio for several years, Barnor opened his own studio called Ever Young, which transformed into one of Accra’s leading photographic studios. Six years later he moved to London in 1959, just in time to witness first-hand the cool Swinging London of the 1960s, and where he would begin to experiment with color photography. It was through this transition that Barnor would become, uniquely perhaps, the only African studio photographer to leave the continent prior to 1960 to study and practice in Europe.

Mike Eghan at Piccadilly Circus, London, 1967. (James Barnor/Courtesy Autograph ABP

Mike Eghan at Piccadilly Circus, London, 1967. (James Barnor/Courtesy Autograph ABP

Whether in Ghana or Britain, Barnor documented cultures in transformation, new identities coming into being — the fragmented experience of modernity and diaspora, the shaping of cosmopolitan societies and selves, and the changing representation of blackness, desire and beauty across time and space. His archive constitutes not only a rare document of the black experience in post-war Britain during the Swinging Sixties, but also provides an important frame of reference, overlapping and stitching together questions of the post-colonial in relation to diasporic perspectives in 20th-century photography.

Article taken from Washington Post. Full article and pictures can be found here

Tribal scars or something else…?

What stories do facial scars tell?

Tribal-marks-Fante-246x300

Like many Ghanaians, my mum has quite a noticeably large scar on her cheek.  Growing up in Ghana this was quite a common sight both in men, women and even children, with the scars ranging in shape and size depending on the tribe one belonged to. I’ve always assumed that these scars were tribal scars or a form of ethnic identification, but I recently discovered that this was only partly true.

 

Like I mentioned before, these scars on the cheek can represent an ethnic identifier, which is the case for the Gonja, Dagomba and Frafra people of northern Ghana. However facial scars can also be found among the Akans, who usually reside in the southern parts of Ghana, and for them, their facial scars tell a whole different story.

 

traditional med

traditional medicine

In the olden days, before the advent of modern medicine, ‘ abibiduro’ or traditional medicine in its English translation, was
used to cure all sorts of illnesses. In fact, abibiduro is still widely used in Ghana today and in some cases are even prescribed by doctors. Back in the day, traditional herbalists made a black powder called ‘botכ’. Botכ was a mixture of different types of traditional medicine grounded into a powder then mixed with charcoal. Botכ worked in the same way as western medicine such as aspirin or codeine, which was used to fight various fevers which particularly affected children. Aspirin and codeine worked as a symptomatic treatment to reduce fevers, and this is exactly what botכ was used for back in the day. Because taking it orally rendered it ineffective as its healing components were destroyed through digestion, a small incision or cut was made in the cheeks of children who suffered from fevers such as malaria, and the botכ was placed in the cut.

 

tribal markAfter healing, a scar remained, thus representing a form of vaccination. These types of practises have obviously been phased out and are rarely used these days due to advances in modern medicine and the accessibility of healthcare even in the remotest parts of Ghana.

Hence these facial scars are most likely to be seen among our parents and grandparents’ generation rather than the generation of today. So next time you see a facial scar on a Ghanaian, don’t be so quick to dismiss it as just a tribal mark!

By Yaa Nyarko (@yaa_fremah)

 

 

GHRBS: Ghanaian Artist up for Turner Prize 2013

Introducing Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

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I was once told that artists are the most the creative people this world has to offer.  I don’t disagree with that statement and Lynette Yiadom Boakye is no exception. The London based artist of Ghanaian descent is fast becoming one the leading lights in the art world thanks to her portraits that depict subjects who do not exist outside of her paintings.

Boakye attended Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, Falmouth College of Arts and the Royal Academy Schools. Her paintings are predominantly figurative with raw and muted colours.

Yiadom-Boakye has shown work internationally in exhibitions, most recently the Gwangju Biennale curated by Okwui Enwezor, Korea; ‘Flow’ at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York and ‘M25. Around London’ curated by Barry Schwabsky at the CCA Andratz, Mallorca; the seville Biennale 2006, curated by Okwui Enwezor and many others including John Moores 23 at the Walker Gallery in Liverpool, Direct Painting at Kunsthalle Mannheim in Germany, 2004 Bloomberg New Contemporaries at various venues throughout the UK and Blackout at Brixton Art Gallery. Yiadom-Boakye is represented by Corvi-Mora in London and by Jack Shainman Gallery in New York.

In 2013 Yiadom-Boakye was nominated for the Turner Prize for her 2012 exhibition Extracts and Verses at Chisenhale Gallery in east London. For those who don’t know the  Turner Prize established in 1984 is awarded to a contemporary artist under 50, living, working or born in Britain, who is judged to have put on the best exhibition of the last 12 months.

She is the FIRST black woman to be in contention for the award in which the winner will receive £25,000 and the other shortlisted artists receive £5,000. The winner will be announced on 2 December 2013 at the Turner exhibition which takes place in Londonderry.

I would like to wish Ms Yiadom-Boakye the best of luck but whether she receives the main prize or not she is still a winner in my eyes.

Lynnette Yiadom-Boakye Me Firi Ghana salutes you!

 

Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@kwesitheauthor)

 

Me FiRi Ghana Story told during the World Economic Forum in Davos!

Read below a diary entry from our Founder who explains in his own words how and why the Me FiRi Ghana and WAM story was shared during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland

 

DAVOS: World Economic Forum:

A week after arriving back in London I had my ticket confirmed for a flight to Zurich, Switzerland during the world economic forum. To be honest with you, I heard about the world economic forum but I didn’t know about it! I think it was a conversation with my brother that made me research into it a bit more…

Davos_World_Economic_Forum

How did this opportunity come about?

In July 2012 I entered a competition that caught my attention. It was a competition created my INDIAFRICA that was looking for young visionaries from Africa and India. I didn’t think much of it but thought the idea of travelling to India could be quite fun, so I put forward my vision as part of the application.

World_Economic_Forum_Davos

After two rounds of applications, in November 2012 Amit the CEO if INDIAFRICA calls me as I’m driving and says I was selected as a Young Visionary representing Ghana and that he wanted me to present what I am involved in at the India Adda Hub during the world economic forum, where I would receive my award from India’s Minister of Commerce – Imagine!

Davos_World_Economic_Forum_Ghana_Young_Visionary

What is the world economic forum?

The world economic forum is the gathering of the world’s industry leaders, presidents, ambassadors, movers and shakers, doer’s and influences in the world.

World_Economic_Forum_Davos_Indian_Minister

Indian Minister of Commerce presenting Award to Founder of Me FiRi Ghana

I cannot describe that 5-day experience in its totality. But I can say that I am so thankful for that opportunity as it opened my eyes to a new world. When writing this blog post I thought, how best can I describe this eye opening experience… well there are two incidents that happened that I want to share that may help you understand the environment I felt humbled to be in:

World_Economic_Forum_Davos

Me FiRi Ghana Founder with Ghanaian Entrepreneur Bright Simmons, Musician Aaron and a leading national branding expert part of the Indiafrica Team!

 

1. EXPERIENCE 1:

Imagine going to the bathroom, doing what you need to do, exiting the bathroom (washing your hands of course!) and as you climb the spiral stair case back to a room you see a 6 ft very well dressed smart casual looking gentleman that made me say “Ozwald” and he turns around!

“O hi” he said, now what do I say? (act as if!)

“Hi my name is Arnold Sarfo-Kantanka, are you okay there”

“Nice to meet you, but yes, I am a bit lost I am looking for…. at ….”

“Well this is xxx but ….”

I was having a conversation with Ozwald Bateng, a man I admire for his attention to detail and excellence and for his new foundation’s initiative for which he explained to me in a bit more detail that day…

OZWALD-BOATENG_meets_Arnold_Sarfo_Kantanka

 

2. EXPERIENCE 2:

the first morning in Davos, myself and Ken (my Kenyan friend living in South Africa) decided to go for a walk and check out Davos. He was dressed in a suit I was in my jeans, trainer’s scarf and Nike NSW jacket! To cut a long story short, we entered the India Adda hub, which was full of, ladies and gentlemen who all looked important dressed in suits and formal attire! Then this dark skinned slim looking gentle-man in his jeans enters (me) and I just feel soooo underdressed for this party! So I didn’t really mingle or make it more than 2 metres past the front door. I looked to my left and saw a gentleman sitting on the sofa sipping on some tea. Davos, is located in the mountains and is freezing cold so it was a great conversation started to ask what type of tea he was drinking. To cut a long story short, the gentleman just so happened to be the founder of SkyPe, be one of the first people to trek across the African continent in their jeep, and the chairman of a multi million pound group of companies in the oil and gas industry!

World_Economic_Forum_Davos

In Davos, you could bump into anyone! But for me it was the experience of being able to share the entrepreneurial story so far – about how an idea I had in university formed Me FiRi Ghana, which birthed the idea for the charity the WAM Campaign – to some of the most innovative thinkers from around the world.

World_Economic_Forum_Davos

World_Economic_Forum_Davos

World_Economic_Forum_Davos

 

 

 

Is the Ghanaian Culture hindering Ghana’s development?

Earlier this year we saw the following demonstration taking place outside the Ghanaian Embassy.

Make of it and the entire situation as you will but the question we would like to understand is this:

 

QUESTION:

To what extent could the Ghanaian Culture (as in traditional Ghanaian life experiences eg. Do not question a person in authority, do not question your elder even if they are blatantly wrong ) be stifling the development of the country ?

 

Leave your opinions below guys #FutureofGhana

Celebrating Christmas the Ghanaian way!

“Afishiapa”: Christmas in Ghana celebrated the commercial and traditional way

 

This Christmas season  millions of people around the world will be celebrating the birth of Christ in many different ways. In many countries around the world Christmas has been commercialised with the focus on bright lights, Santa Claus, mistletoe and gifts.  However some countries have managed to maintain and promote the real reason for season!

In Ghana traditional Christmas observances revolve around large family gatherings, feasts, singing, and church services. Before Christmas day following the run up to Christmas (Advent) many churches blossom with flowers and palm branches. Some congregations decorate a tree on the church grounds in honor of the coming holiday. In the last few days before Christmas jam-packed buses, trucks, cars, and boats criss-cross the country, ferrying people back to their ancestral towns and villages.

On Christmas Eve families gather for a special dinner, often consisting of chicken stew or dishes made from rice and goat meat. Then they head off to church services that usually include a Nativity play or Christmas pageant performed by the congregation’s youth. After church, people greet one another and exchange good wishes for the holiday. Processions form and ramble joyfully through the streets, led by bands of musicians. Children dash about shouting, “Egbona hee, egogo vo!”, “Christ is coming, he is near!”

Then to the big day, Christmas Day and festivities begin quite early, sometime before dawn, as groups of carolers go door to door singing songs. House-holders typically offer small presents to the singers, who represent the band of angels that brought the good news of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds Christmas Day church services are scheduled for mid-morning. They feature the retelling of the Nativity story and the singing of many hymns and carols in local languages. After the service is over, children collect candies and other sweet treats said to have come from Father Christmas. Some also receive a book, new clothes, or shoes as Christmas presents. People greet each other, saying “Afishiapa,” which means “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”Christmas celebrations continue through the day as families, friends, and neighbors gather for feasts and dances. Typical foods eaten at Christmas time include peanut soup, fufu, okra soup, and a meat such as chicken, goat, sheep, beef, or pork. Brightly colored paper ornaments pinned up throughout the house set a cheery mood for the festivities. Many Ghanaian families also decorate a tree growing in their courtyard with paper ornaments. Often mango, guava, or cashew trees serve this purpose. Other families will bring a single tree branch into the house and decorate it with lights and ornaments.

Like many western countries Christmas in Ghana is all about family, friends, goodwill and food! However importantly the message of the birth Christ does not get lost and remains the focus of the celebrations which is good to see.

Will you be in Ghana this Christmas? Will your celebrations mirror those above and more importantly what will you be eating; chicken, beef, pork goat or you gonna just lump for Turkey?

PS: If you are celebrating Christmas in Ghana this year, Check out www.wamcampaign.org for more details on how you can make a difference in the lives of children and young people.

Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@Kwesitheauthor)