(When I asked these guys, members of the same gang, if I could take their photos, the leader said: "Don't bother. When you photograph me, I won't appear on your camera".
(A prostitute drinks a sachet of water, at the entrance to her room)
(A photo of a prostitute's room. It was so dark I had to use a flash and seeing the sandals of her child, arranged along with hers, at the foot of the bed on which she plies her trade was heart breaking. No child must be allowed to grow up under these kinds of circumstances. )
(A child walks past a brothel)
(Prostitution here is purely economics and most of the ladies have other jobs to help them survive.)
(One of the many faces of young men who are heavily addicted to drugs; but with no support systems, his end is quite obvious)
I was chatting up a gang, and one of the guys showed me the tattoo of a pistol on his arm; and told me “We are the Americans of Ghana”. I had never heard that expression before, and I was quite saddened by his comment because I knew he wasn’t talking about being Obama, the first black president of America, but rather the thugs hiphop music often glorifies and main stream media actively portrays as THE image of the young black man in America.
(A woman unties a knot as she gets ready to sell food in her community. Of course, not every woman here works as a prostitute; but most do and quite a number combine it with other regular jobs to help them rise out of poverty and give their children a better future).
(Since I'm not a big fan of tragedies, I will end this post with a portrait I made of Alhaji in Kunbungu, near Tamale. It will break his heart when he learns that quite a number of the young women who migrate from his region end up either being forced by a gang or economics into prostitution just to survive in the big cities of Ghana).
Have a wonderful day.
© Nana Kofi Acquah at 8/03/2014 11:35:00 p.m.
© Nana Kofi Acquah at 4/24/2014 02:22:00 p.m.
© Nana Kofi Acquah at 3/06/2014 02:54:00 a.m.
This morning, I woke up with a headache. I asked my wife if she could drop the kids at school. She said yes. I took one look at her tired face. I changed my mind. I wobbled out of the couch where I'd spent the night and went looking for a pair of shorts. It is just another day. The kids got into the car, and off we went.
The road from Kokrobite to the famous old barrier is not one designed for cars. It feels more suited for horses and antelopes. My kids were singing "Lala lala la" in many different renditions, which didn't necessarily harmonise with the clanging and tinkling sounds seeping out from the bottom of my car, as it kissed each pothole I couldn't swerve. Most mornings are like this.
In the midst of this monotonous morning, one big distraction happened. Up the hill that leads down to the old barrier, I saw a group of people gathered around a naked man lying in a gutter. I quickly sped on to prevent my kids from witnessing the horrible sight. Fortunately for me, they were too engrossed in their song.
On my way back, the size of the crowd had increased. A police man, on a dilapidated motorbike, who had sped past me had already arrived at the scene. When I got there, he was talking about how three of these robbers had robbed and raped a young married woman in the neighbourhood recently. He was furious that the guy was still alive. He started tapping his pockets, looking for something. Finally he ended our curiosity by saying he was looking for his pepper spray. He wanted to spray some into the thief's wounds so he can feel pepper. Shortly after his rants, the police truck arrived. They, obviously were disappointed that the thief was alive. One of them yelled at the crowd: "Why do you guys keep doing this? If you've caught a thief, why don't you just kill him? Why do you beat them half-dead and then dump them on us? If you had killed him, all we'd have to do is dump him at the mortuary!"
I asked the people around if any of them knew for certain that the guy was a thief. None knew for certain but they all agreed he definitely looked like one. They said he had been dumped in the gutter around 2am. He had been calling for Joyce to come to see him before he dies. I wondered who Joyce was?
I didn't hear him utter a word whilst I was there, so everything I heard, I heard from bystanders. One guy said he had been robbed recently; and if the Police hadn't arrived he would have dropped a cement block on the thief's head. He said most of these thieves come in the afternoon when the neighbourhood is quiet and everybody is at work. Another lady said this particular thief had come to spy the neighbourhood out recently. He had come to eat at one of the "chop bars" around and an old man, had warned them that the guy looked evil.
There are two main reasons why people take the law into their hands: When they can't trust the system; and when they know they can get away with it. I believe the pursuit of justice is innate and we all would love that the bad nuts in society are properly punished for their crimes but I hope more people will pause for just a second before they hurl a stone or knife at "a thief" and ask themselves: "What if he isn't a thief?"
About 17 years ago, I was nearly lynched at North Kaneshie, in Accra, where I had gone to visit my friend Patrick. I was in a batick shirt. A young girl screamed in my direction and said: "There he is! The Thief!" I had the presence of mind not to run and look at the girl. She took another look at me and said "Oh, that's not him but the thief is also in a batick shirt". Fortunately for me, that incident happened at noon, so she could properly make me out. Imagine if it had been at night. Imagine if I had panicked and started running. Imagine how many innocent people get killed in the gutters and streets of Africa everyday because someone mistook them for a thief?
Just for the sake of the one person who might be innocent, we need to stop this barbaric, lawless act of jungle justice. All God's children deserve justice.
© Nana Kofi Acquah at 2/20/2014 04:47:00 p.m.
Normally when it starts raining, it is natural to dash for cover. Even children do that. On that mystical day, half of us did run for cover whilst the other half looked at us, wondering if we were alright.
We were drenched but they were as dry as Harmattan’s backside. And then finally, it hit us all. It was raining only on our side of the pavement. How's that possible? How could only my left had be getting wet whilst my right hand stayed completely dry? How could my left foot be wet and my right foot be dry?
Ten of us went for dinner in Luanda, Angola. The dinner bill was 5,700 United States Dollars. Our chaperon pulled out a wad of $100 bills and paid it off with the coolness with which people in London pay for chewing gum. The very following day, I discovered that just a few kilometres away from where we'd had that dinner in Luanda, other citizens survive on less than a dollar a day. I saw people eating uncooked cassava and groundnuts for supper. They live on the same pavement but it rains only one side.
I have had the same kind of experiences in Accra, Lagos, Lome, Abidjan, Dakar, Ouagadougou, Bamako, Monrovia, Banjul, Kampala, Yaounde, Johannesburg and Zanzibar. It seems to rain only on one side of the pavement in Africa.
© Nana Kofi Acquah at 1/29/2014 02:30:00 p.m.
These are a portraits I made of you on your 41st birthday in Mauritius. That was a good day; unlike today.
May your soul rest in perfect peace, brother. We will always be proud of you. Always.
© Nana Kofi Acquah at 12/03/2013 09:37:00 p.m.
© Nana Kofi Acquah at 12/02/2013 07:34:00 p.m.