‘We are who we are, we are giving what we’re giving, would love for you to be a part of it, and, if you like it, great.’ – Jojo Abot (Singer and designer)
We have already witnessed the potential of young African creatives revealed by the Afripedia documentary series. Each new episode of this six part documentary series brings us closer to the micro-culture of creatives in six African countries; Angola, Ghana, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Senegal. If you’ve ever wondered what else is happening in these countries, besides the prejudice-filled stories executed by most media outlets perpetuating the same stereotypes, we’re glad you asked; Afripedia is here to give the critical insight.
As the directors of the Afripedia series Teddy Goitom, Benjamin Taft and Senay Berhe all agree; the goal is to reshape the image of African countries by letting the creative visionaries of the new Africa tell their stories. Perhaps it is a long and cumbersome process, but that just comes with the job if one wishes to change preconceptions by filming compelling and inspirational documentaries.
The Ghana edition of Afripedia follows several strong artists and depicts them in their everyday life. Each in their own way creates a space for possibility, striving to bring the important issues to the attention of the public eye. Among many interesting voices, we meet the visual artist Serge Attukwei Clottey (painter and performance artist), who uses plastic as a symbolic material in his work. His focus on environmental issues surrounding modern day Ghana reveals an artist deeply invested in the future of Ghana’s well being. For him, the art is strongly political, and it has an important role in springing awareness in his fellow citizens. Which is why he never sells or shows his art in galleries – he takes it out on the streets for people to see and be a part of it.
The common denominator connecting all the creatives of Ghana featured in this documentary is their conviction that if one knows what one wants, it is always possible to go out there and achieve it, creatively speaking. Martin Abrokwah, founder of Circus Ghana, and a bicycle creative, is another sparkling visionary character of the Afripedia: Ghana documentary. His crowd of bicycle athletes makes up an inspiring bunch who dance and do tricks on their bicycles, bringing something new and never seen before to its audiences. The kind of artistic conviction Martin Abrokwah sports is admiring, he knows what he’s doing and why, as he positively states: “…Everything is possible, you can even learn magic. It takes time, but it is possible…”
The artist who perhaps catches everyone’s eye and attention the best is singer, performer and artist Noella Wiyaala. Wiyaala has the power diva aura about her; she’s a strong vocalist with the androgynous look about her (hence she’s been compared to Grace Jones) and her charismatic persona oozes with unique strength of character. She’s also a dancer, having competing and winning against boys; Wiyaala carries within a torch of dare, a will to show the world that she can and she will, despite the naysayers.
Speaking about being a woman in the entertainment business, Wiyaala proclaims: “Being a female is not easy. You go and meet people who want to help – but, they always want you to give them something in return – before. And, I was like, no, if you don’t wanna help, just go away. I’ll do it anyway. They said, ok, if you think it’s that easy to do it here, let’s see how you do it. Before they knew it I was back on stage.“ Now, there is hardly anyone in Ghana who doesn’t know about Wiyaala, and her international visibility is not to be ignored either.
“If you’re not strong, and stand up for yourself, you’re going away.” Wiyaala incorporates the DIY attitude; she is a self-made artist. She is the flag bearer of agency for women in Ghana, which is something she is completely aware of and hopes to inspire other young women to come out, do what they like and fight for their dreams. Her intent is obvious and admirable, as she ponders about changing the traditional gender dynamics in her video for ‘Rock My Body’: “You can do everything you want. You just have to come out and believe in what you can do”.
WIYAALA- ROCK MY BODY Official (feat: Jupitar)
All the artists featured in the Afripedia: Ghana documentary use their art to signify change, appoint to dangers, communicate the actual themes in contemporary Ghana, whose vision and thoughts go beyond the everyday troubles and who are concerned with Ghana’s future. In the words of Sionne Neely, the co-director of Accra Dot Alt (an art organization whose focus is taking art from galleries towards the streets): “A lot of projects we are working on have come out of the impulse of “do it yourself”. Let’s come together and combine our talents…” Suggesting identity politics, Sionne Neely states: “we’re continually defining what it means to be an African”.
And the best part of all of this is? This is only the beginning.
Afripedia Ghana will be aired on Swedish TV, Kunskapskanalen on October 23rd at 10.25 p.m . It is also possible to view the episode on urplay.se
Go to afripedia.com for more
Afripedia: Ghana (trailer)
Produced by: Teddy Goitom
Photography: Benjamin Taft, Senay Berhe
Editors: Benjamin Taft, Senay Berhe
Additional editor: Dmitris Vulalas
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