Creation thrives at “Cornfields in Accra”


Nii Odzenma photo

Glimpses of the crowd on exhibition’s opening night – by Nii Odzenma

Kwame Nkrumah’s University of Science and Technology (KNUST) ‘s end of year exhibition offered Accra for the third year in a row, a plethora and diversity of works interrogating perceptions of sexuality, identity, consumerism, social patterns and heritage amongst other topics.

This year’s exhibition coined “Cornfields in Accra” was borrowed from Ghanaian writer Ama Atta Aidoo’s eponymous poem, to depict labour and most of all, resilience. Curators of the show[i] presented new media works in the mix of artworks and wanted to increase accessibility of these works by including braille and local language translations.

Popular KNUST alumni also contributed to the exhibition with artist Ibrahim Mahama’s iconic jute sacks draping like last year the entrance of the Museum of Science and Technology and promising artist Adjo Kisser’s large fresco coating one side of the Museum.

Among the remarkable works of graduates, Desmond Acquah’s ‘organs’ surrounded the ground floor with several sets of 3-4 organs scientifically presented under a glass. The itemised organs representing lungs, hearts, kidneys, were detached from the human body and covered with fluorescent glitter offering viewers a semblance of sugary glistening crystals. The illusory appearance of these organs as colourful candy offered a sharp contrast between the reality and rawness of the items.

Caleb Prah Madonna

Photo: Caleb Prah, Madonna – Nii Odzenma

A few “classical” paintings were visible, the ones from Afia Prempeh, attracting many gazes. Prempeh’s works in large frames are hard to avoid and mix classic with surrealist art. She features historical Ghanaian figures such as the country’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah, the warrior Yaa Asantewaa as well as agriculturist Tetteh Quarshie. In her own words, even if glory seems to be portrayed, she overall critiques the failures of globalisation, democracy and the New World Order.

Afia Prempeh - Credit Nii Odemma

Guests viewing Afia Prempeh – BlaxTARLINES

Other abstract artworks also questioned viewers on the place of dirt in our lives (Percy Nii Nortey), to our understanding of patriarchy and women’s owning of their hair (Priscilla Kennedy) to satirical illustrations of Ghanaian society (Bright Ackwerh).

The diversity and richness of works from nearly a hundred artists showcased was dizzying and beyond inspiring, a tangible proof that Ghanaian artists “will survive among the turbines”[ii] and have so much more to share with the world.

Exhibition was extended until end of August. More information:

[i] BlaxTARLINES KUMASI, project space for contemporary art; the KNUST and the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board

[ii] Ama Ata Aidoo “Cornfields in Accra” poem.

A good time for Ghana’s 2.0 Arts


KPrize 2016

Kuenyehia Prize 2016 Laureate Bright Ackwerh congratulated by Prof. Emeritus El Anatsui

It is a good time for the arts in Ghana. Finally, and organically, Ghana is building its ecosystem for its creative communities (the term industries would be ambitious). It would be too early to call it sustainable and sound but no one can ignore its steady growth.

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Clinical Blues in Accra


Mid-September in Accra on the usual hot Saturday afternoon. Time for Nigerian writer and intern doctor Dami Ajayi to meet with Ghanaians to decorticate ‘Clinical Blues’ and by extension himself. The Writers Project Ghana along with Zaria Horizons and Vidya Bookstores collaborated for Dami Ajayi’s first reading in Accra.

Before diving into ‘Clinical Blues’, Dami broke the ice by sharing the intimate poem “Tolu”, written a few days earlier and dedicated to a departed friend from Medical School. The audience could sense and relate to the pain, trauma and slow process of mourning read out through “Tolu”, a good prelude to open discussions on pain and the writing process among other very relevant issues.

He explained how “Clinical Blues” was not his first but his second collection of poems stating he had in fact written one and a half books: ‘Daybreak and other poems’  is available for free online while copies of ‘Clinical Blues’ are available at Vidya Bookstores in Accra and/or contact Zaria for more information.

Justifying the use of English rather than Yoruba (there are several dialects falling under the Yoruba language), pointing out the similarities between doctors and writers, presenting his e-magazine Saraba, commenting on the popularity of spoken word and taking us through love-filled poems to harsh, traumatising experiences such as ‘Requiem for an asphyxiated neonate’, Dami introduced works that speak to each one’s humanity and mortality without solely being about ‘blues’, lost hopes or morbidity. Life has its moments of darkness and challenges but all can be enlightened through them and/or thanks to them.

First – Dami Ajayi reads ‘Clinical Blues’

Zaria Horizons which aims at bridging gaps between African artists from all disciplines and audiences, is delighted to announce its first event will consist in inviting the Nigerian writer Dami Ajayi to read its first collection of poems ‘Clinical Blues’ in Accra, Ghana this September 2015. For this reading, Zaria Horizons is partnering with the Writers Project of Ghana and Vidya Bookstore.

Dami Ajayi studied Medicine and Surgery at the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife Nigeria where he discovered his love for writing. In that time he also co-founded Saraba, an international literary magazine. He is the recipient of many awards that cut cross poetry, non-fiction and fiction. Daybreak, his electronic chapbook, became an underground classic and his first volume of poems, Clinical Blues, was selected by This Is Africa(TIA) has one of the best books in the last five years.

See you next month in Accra.

Dami Ajayi Reading- Flyer