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Photography & Spoken Word

Magic in the Air



Two coconut trees with long trunks are looking down at an old building. Their fronds are close and nearly touching. Between them are three birds with wings apart, frozen in flight. They look more like they’re circling than moving toward a destination. There’s a fourth bird, lower and to your right. It is caught in the angle created by that coconut tree and the right side of the frame of the picture.

Further below is the top end of an old fortress. It is the Elmina Castle, because a canon is peering out from above the building. The wall of this fortress, which is painted white, has not been painted in a while. Still, it offers the impression of something strong. It is the Elmina Castle. As Ghanaian, you probably guessed it immediately you saw it.

The picture is the scene of solitude, and was taken by Kwasi Kyei Mensah Jnr., a budding photographer who is himself drawn to the idea of peace and mature solitude, i.e, the one which is not characterised by sadness of any kind. He’s also drawn to black and white, which is a tool for class and timelessness in a photo…if you ask me. With black and white photography too, Kyei easily achieves the complexion of air and the fluorescence of quiet.

It was this quality in his work, specifically, which attracted me to him in August of last year. He had posted a photo on his Facebook wall…also rendered in black and white, also capturing beautifully, the atmosphere of solitude. It was a picture of a man riding a bicycle and wearing a hat. Fastened to the carrier of the bike is a gas cylinder and two polythene bags. Trees and street lights are blurred in the distance, and he’s virtually the only thing we see, save for the short pole behind him. This picture is so silent and arresting, it initiates conversation in our minds; Who is the man on the bike? What is in the plastic bags? What is his occupation? Is he on an errand for himself or a master? Is he depressed on that day?

Let’s return to the picture of the Elmina Castle though, shall we? The sky behind is stainless and all but deserted and resembles a canvas. It seems to me that the sky in the frame was the only spot for activity on that day. It is a brilliant picture, taken hours into the afternoon in natural light. The sky is usually a peaceful place.

Who looks into the sky? Which photographer aims their camera into the sky? We all look into the sky; it’s the farthest thing we can see with our physical eyes and the closest thing to God, literally. We look into the skies often, and since we can’t see God, the sky is also god to us, and sends our prayers to the deity beyond it.

Who looks into the sky? It is the person who has lost hope or the one who is looking for some peace and beauty. The sky is gentle; there’s hardly hasty activity in it. Occasionally there’s a flying object; a bird, a plane, a shooting star, a cloud…but somehow, the sky slows them all down.

What is the focus in this photograph? It is the coconut trees; who look like friends from childhood who have made it to old age. They are identical because they are all they’ve had for a long time so they just mirror each other. They seem to gossip about activity on the sea ahead and the expressions on the faces of tourists. It is the coconut trees because their trunks look like they have been through challenge and have known evening loneliness.

What is the focus in this photograph? It is the birds up there in the sky but with no destination in mind in the meantime, just spreading their wings to the refreshment of altitude. They are like little children playing in the sand or chasing each other with giggles and for recreation. As we have experienced, it is the best time to live…it is the best way to live; constantly laughing, easily forgiving and dwelling without care or thought about the morrow.

What is the focus of this picture? It is the canon who’s tail we can only see. It’s not all there is to it, but it’s all you need to see to be frightened…if you know what danger a canon can be.

It is the wall which hasn’t been painted in a while; it has seen so much and been part of so much death shameful history and nobody has demanded an opinion from it. Walls have ears, and this wall is a very important wall. It has heard tears and prayers of hundreds (thousands, perhaps) and stood through the various phases of the history of the native. It can tell that the tour guide is being inaccurate, but it is doesn’t say anything…it’s just waiting to be asked. It has seen several centuries and will witness more, so it has developed courage and nonchalance. It was built for that kind of thing.

It is the gentle sky which works perfectly as backdrop. It’s expansive, covering the entire frame… and is the reason every other element in the frame stands out, but it doesn’t demand any of the credit. It leaves it to happy birds and coconut fronds.

What is the focus of this photograph? It’s everything and nothing. I doubt if Kyei set out to take merely a shot of birds, coconut trees and a wall –everybody can take photographs of buildings and birds.

I suspect that he set out to capture mood; the adjectives “calm”, “gentle”, and “home”. He recognises that it’s not something e can easily do. Memory? Fine, but mood is rare even to a camera. In the end, he wants something with longevity in its beauty, so he looks to the sky…at the one thing which is farthest from the naked eye and closest to God. This is the result. Everything in the frame looks like it’s supposed to be there, like they have been carefully picked out for a ceremony.

This picture is brilliant, because it’s natural, an accident even. But it’s an accident that Kyei intended and patiently ambushed.

It is beautiful and serene –this picture –to the point of therapy. It is also a serious picture, and pays homage to the sky and its purity. It’s interaction with the eyes is silent and meditative, so it’s an important picture.

A version of this essay appears on

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Photography & Spoken Word

IT IS POSSIBLE! Bola poses with family ahead of BOOK LAUNCH – SEE IMAGES!



EIB boss Nathan Kwabena Anokye Adisi (Bola Ray) is set to launch a 320-page memoire come September   21.

Authored by journalist Obed Boafo, the book (titled “It is Possible”) details the media mogul’s life over four decades, as well as his journey to becoming one of the country’s foremost business persons. It was written over 2 years.

President Akufo-Addo, former presidents Rawlings and J. A Kuffour, Deputy UK High Commissioner to Ghana Gavin Cook, world renowned cosmetologist Dr Rita Rakus are among top dignitaries expected at the Labadi Beach Hotel for the launch.

Here are images of the media mogul posing with his family ahead of the launch: wife Dorcas, and kids Pharrel, Marcel and Adelle.

Copies of the book can be preordered via

Joining radio while still in university, Bola Ray has grown to become an authority not just in radio broadcasting, but in the entertainment industry as a whole. He joined Accra-based Top Radio after university and went on to The Multimedia Group, where he served a variety of roles, mainly hosting Drivetime on Joy for 11 years. For the past two years, he has been host of Starr Chat and co-host of Starr Drive, aside being head of the EIB Network and the Empire Group. 


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Photography & Spoken Word

#ENEWSGHPoeticLicence: Sands of Time – Asford Psalms



I turned a blind eye to what mattered the most.

Now, I stand at the side lines as it waves me off.

I wish I could go back in time to change my mind when help was not hard to find.

It’s hard to abide by all that it has left behind.


Spending precious countless time trying to lie to myself that nothing of that sort ever passed-by.

But it avails to nothing.

It feels like I have no spine.

Paralyzed to the other side of opportunity.

A chance has slipped through my fingers as lies would, through a grapevine.


Sands of time; I plead you take me back.

Back to when I had the chance.

Chance to have acted in the time of that sphere.

Chance to have accepted.

Or to have rejected.

A chance to have smiled.

Or to have frowned.

Chance to have calculated my steps before a fall.

Chance to have thought.

And to have bought at a lesser cost.

Chance to have said, “yes.”

Or to have chanced its reverse.

A chance to have acknowledged.

And to have loved.

Chance to have vowed.

And to have stood.

Or to have bowed than to have been misunderstood.


Sands of time; take me back to when life was fair and green.

Take me back!

I solemnly plea.

For I need to take the chance before it flees.

Take me back with a hefty prance.

At least, then I will have a chance.

Chance to correct my errors before they hunt me now and ever more.




Asford psalms.




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Guest Blog - The Other View

Serge Attukwei Clottey gets VOGUE Italia feature!



In August of 2014 I sent a message to Serge Attukwei Clottey on Facebook.  I had seen images on social media of a performance he had done on the streets of Accra where he was masked and cross-dressed as half dancer and half politician. He was carrying a briefcase and standing in the middle of a busy intersection.  I could not tell exactly what was going on, but I liked what I saw and I sent him a message.

That message started a friendship and journey that has been fascinating for the both of us. Serge makes work about the world he lives in, but it is very much also about the world we ALL live in.  He works in all mediums.  Sculpture, painting, performance, photography, drawing and video in much the same way as artists who are no longer confined to a single medium can use the different instruments of cultural production to express ideas that are both complex and simple, beautiful and shocking, all at once.  He is also hugely collaborative as an artist and works with performers and fellow artists called the GoLokal collective.  They engage in issues not so often delved into by male artists on the rising continent of Africa. Gender, masculinity, the role of matriarchy within the power structure of local society and of course the political corruption, environmental degradation and themes that we all have become acutely aware of globally. Serge lives in Accra – his beat, so to speak, is Jamestown and Labadi, his spoken tongue is Ga, and his attitude and demeanor is one straight out of a Hollywood movie.

Upon meeting him, simply put, he is a prince amongst men – elegant, physically beautiful and quiet.  He listens. He watches.  He thinks. He synthesizes. He is always considering art.

There is a natural understanding in him and his work that he is an artist who lives in Ghana and makes art in Ghana, but does not per se make Ghanain art.  Unliike so many artists whose dream it is to live in NYC or London or Berlin or Paris, he dreams of making his studio and center in Ghana.  His work predicts that we are all one now, with different mountains and oceans to behold but all connected by the same air that we breathe, fouled up by each and everyone’s personal decisions.  His art transmits the complexity of globalization and its dangers to modern society in works that display waste and corruption and illustrate how such dark forces can be transformed by human creativity into things of beauty and evolution.  Serge is an immensely complex artist whose works so simply express complexity, that he is destined to become one of Africa’s great new voices.

via VOGUE Italia

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Photography & Spoken Word

#ENEWSGHPoeticLicence: Rot Not – Asford Psalms




I know you are boneless yet really strong.

Fleshy yet can pierce like a claw.

Soft and can sing a melodious song.

Smooth and can act garnished or raw.


Tricky; no wonder it is shorter than long.

Tough but hangs in the confines of walls.

Filled with blood, no wonder it makes certain wrongs.


It can set free or set one into a bond.

A bond in which they are bound to perform all rounds of what casts it into that lounge.

A part as discrete.

A part which can stir you bad or tell you sweets.

A part as weak.

A part which can tell you calm or tell you with a hard tweak.

A part as sleek.

A part which can whip from left to right or right to left to tell you something is sweet.

A part with a streak.

A part which sweeps from up to down to articulate your feelings with such oblique.

A part which tells truth of what you feel or tells the opposite and what others are to believe.


I know that as long as I live, I will be trapped by the actions of this whip.

And as long as it whips, I will be trapped in existence- even when I am planted into the earth like a seed.

For whatever my actions be; whatever the story reads, it is my tongue that said my thoughts with ease.

Rot not tongue.

Rot not!



Asford Psalms.

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Photography & Spoken Word

Celebrated Ghanaian Photojournalist Raises Funds For School Project



One of Ghana’s most decorated photojournalists, Geoffrey Buta, has initiated a fundraising drive to build a three-unit classroom structure for Zagyuri Primary School in the Sagnarigu District of the Northern Region.

Provision of formal education in the school is in a limbo as a dilapidated six-unit classroom structure currently being used by pupils as a place for learning, poses danger to their safety.

With leaking roofs, gaping holes on walls and cracked floors, the school build has turn to be a death trap if nothing is done about it.

Buta said, he was moved by the plight of the children and their teachers when he visited the school 2 years back to carry out an official assignment for New Times Corporation

“I have sought the assistance of organizations to build the school but seeing that no one was ready to help, I decided to raise the funds through the sale of these fine art pictures I’m exhibiting today.

“These are pictures I usually sell to banks, hotels and rich individuals who have love for art….but for this particular fundraising project, I am looking at the situation whereby the proceeds for one pictures can get the school some building materials, he explained.

Dubbed “Foto4Change”, one hundred framed fine art pictures captured at various locations in the Upper West, Upper East, Northern and Volta Regions, Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana were put on exhibition to raise fund.

Many attendees of the exhibition which was held at the Modern City Hotel in Tamale lauded Buta for his initiative, urging individuals and institutions to support the project.

This is not the first time Geoffrey Buta is exhibiting pictures. In 2015, he was the first Ghanaian photojournalist to hold a photo exhibition in Northern Ghana at Gariba Lodge to commemorate International Women’s Day celebration. It was a success by all standards.

In his very short career life as a professional photojournalist, Buta affectionately called has captured almost everything through the lenses of his camera, ranging from nature to lifestyle.

Indeed, the 32-year-old young man whose passion lies in ‘changing lives through photography’ has travelled and covered Northern Ghana more than any Ghanaian journalist in his generation. From covering conflicts, climate change, agriculture, festivals, health to education.

He is one of the few Ghanaian photojournalists many rural and urban dwellers particularly women and children never seem to forget of as one of the numerous guests they welcomed into their homes, farms, markets or festivals taking pictures that rightly captured the moments of their lives.

As a staff of state-owned media organization, New Times Corporation publishers of The Ghanaian Times and spectator, Buta was adjudged the 2012 GJA Photojournalist of the Year.

In the same year, he received the award for best journalist for road safety reporting from the National Road Safety Commission; and was also finalist for Human Rights Photography in Africa (People’s Choice Award) organised by German Development Media Awards/Deutsche Welle.
In 2013, Buta won “People’s Choice Award” for my foto4change project organised by Reach for Change and Tigo; Best Journalist for road safety reporting for the second time from the National Road Safety Commission; as well as Thompson Reuters Foundation/Nokia Photo Award 2013 in the UK. Recently, he was adjudged the Best Development Journalist at the maiden Northern Investor Awards.

Among the many attendees of the photo exhibition were friends, professional colleagues and heads of corporate institutions and non-profit organisations.



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Photography & Spoken Word

PICTORIAL: Deborah Vanessa!



Ghanaian celebrity Deborah Vanessa has constantly submitted some of the most impressive images this town has witnessed. This new batch, taken at this year’s Chale Wote Street Art Festival and her birthday shoot, testify to how much sunshine the “Ghana Jollof” singer brings with each pose.

Made by OAB Photography, the photos see her juggle perfectly, fearsome style and sweet poolside images which also stand out because of her bold colour choices.


See them below:

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