Connect with us

Photography & Spoken Word

Magic in the Air

Published

on

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 myershansen.wordpress.com

Comments
Advertisement
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Photography & Spoken Word

#ENEWSGHPoeticLicence: Penance for Penitence – Asford Psalm

Published

on

Like it never happened!

The words; the best foreplay.

The acts; the sensual play of our parts.

The long gaze of my eyes; yours!

The raging pleasure in my veins; your response!

 

The heat which burns like ice.

Was I right?

For taking advantage of our moods.

Were you true?

The emotions you so revealed.

 

Our heads played, our hearts responded.

Pumping blood for the motions that are resounding.

But now, we have to pretend.

 

The was no pain with the pleasure.

And night is come.

It’s over!

A new morning; a new light, bleaching my sight.

The raging pleasure in my veins; your response.

The oblivion we didn’t phantom.

Irrelevant at that point.

But now, our end result.

 

Reality has walked through the door after the new light loathe the night.

So can we pretend?

Pretend like it never happened?

Then, pleasure came without pain.

But I can’t say same for now.

 

An upset from food that pleasured my taste buds a while ago.

Everything with a consequence.

Without retort to eating that which I am not accustomed to, I am beginning to abhor without reasoning through.

I am, in fact, pretending like it never happened.

Yet the aftermath, not so much.

 

Weird!

 

Asford Psalms

 

 

Comments
Continue Reading

Photography & Spoken Word

VIDEO: Chief Moomen talks poetry, theatre & STORYTELLING on CNN African Voices

Published

on

Renowned Ghanaian poet and playwright Chief Moomen was recently on CNN’s African Voices, discussing his craft and country Ghana.

The feature sees the Wogbɛ Jɛkɛ producer reveal his earliest introductions to the spoken word, citing the great Maya Angelou as being responsible for his “artistic awakening”.

He also comments on the place of the creative arts towards national development.

THEATRE – Of Chief Moomen’s Wogbɛ Jɛkɛ

Currently a teaching assistant at the Theatre Arts Department of the University of Ghana, Moomen has performed on multiple high-profile platforms. He is also author of Village Fresh, a collection of poems.

Watch the video below: 

 

Comments
Continue Reading

Photography & Spoken Word

#ENEWSGHPoeticLicence: Drift – Asford Psalm

Published

on

Change is constant.

How we did get here might be different.

Yet still, we are brought to this ever-evolving dimension.

I was brought here too, through the common path.

Shortly after my pull into the new world I knew not, I heared voices.

Voices of shouts of success.

Atleast that is what I think.

And the voice of a calming scream.

A scream of pain and of joy.

And tears, only of what a mother would give.

But my tiny brain was immature to determine the myriad of cluttered noise and faces.

However, my soft heart could tell that I have made my first drift.

A drift from a motherly belly to the outer skirts.

A drift from a known old world into an unknown one.

A world of uncertainty

A world of pure light and true darkness.

 

My transition was complete when I roared my pitchy tunes along with the fresh flow of innocent tears.

No one told me, but I should have carried on with my young cry.

For the world I am welcomed to is the one accustomed to the path of drifting slides.

Either smooth or rough, I am meant to go through.

And there is a combination of both in the changing lines of life’s pages.

 

From the darkness of my mother’s inner into the light of the world; was only the begining.

From her suckle.

To my crawl.

From my crawl, to my topple; along with my words in mumble.

And from my mumbles and fruitful topples, I stood then later said my first true words; gibberish, maybe.

That was a drift that brought smiles to the faces of those around.

So they say.

 

My see of the world was colours and pictures.

I was too fascinated to begin asking the repeated questions of, “what’s next?.”

From when I was a babe; taught right and wrong.

Good and bad.

And to when I knew exactly how to cover up the strangest lie with an ‘amour of honesty’.

I continue to grow older and older.

Each second; each minute; everyday; all the months; a year.

And so it goes on.

Every one of those cycles whether in reverse, had stripes of either a joyful drift or a sorrowful one.

 

As if a fall to the ground each time I attempted to walk wasn’t enough; even as a toddler.

But that always proves my certainty.

Certainty in the drift.

The drift in time on the wait in patience.

How patient I was, laid on the simple fact of growing up into the age of wisdom and the perception of self dependency.

None of these is an easy goal.

But when the going gets stiffer, I evolve.

How youthful I’ve become, drifting from sand-play to pen-write is just a plus.

Life is a trick and none of its tricks gets old.

I was tricked into laughter when I was a suckling.

Now, I’m young and I have to play tricks in life to make me laugh.

But later, in the future, others will play tricks on me; hoping we will share a mutual laugh.

 

Growing old is as easy as waiting for the next  year.

And in a year, every single event of change carries a huge weight.

The weight of drift in ignorance and into intelligence.

Fading myself away from certain life rules into the ones I make, is just a shade of the entire picture.

Even though I have learned to grow myself from being a baby, the drift of time between then and my youth; nothing came easy.

 

I am to be successful.

And I ask myself, “how?”

But after I succeed, I will ask again, “what’s next?”

That’s when a gorgeous life request rears its head.

Soon, I ‘ll be coupled.

But that is just a plus too.

Willingly, soon after, we will multiply.

And that will be a major drift.

What’s next after this is a bit easy.

I start to play tricks on them and they; on me

Till I can’t take it no more, especially with a stick in hand.

Yet again, I ask the inevitable question of, “what’s next?”.

And the answer is as easy as raising your head to the son.

But after my final drift.

After that drift where my spirit and soul are far from my feeble body, I’ll still have one last question unanswered yet.

What’s next??

 

 

Asford psalms

Comments
Continue Reading

Photography & Spoken Word

#ENEWSGHPoeticLicence: Grey Area – Asford Psalms

Published

on

The foreign winter sips into the new year.

The African harmattan sleeps but wakes and creeps into the month of the same year.

Grey is the colour I see.

The eve of the new year is the three hundred and more days lived again.

A new checklist is written again.

The old one, indifferent all the same.

 

This eve, I bear new leaves.

Of the same old stock.

My green will remain for the month.

But don’t blame me if I change.

If I do, it’s the season.

Probably ‘coz I was frozen in winter’s brief or I was shivering under harmattan’s breeze.

 

When winter passes and the man blowing the harmattan wind collapses, I may dry out.

Then you see me- the old branch of the same old trunk.

I can’t make a tree on my own, so I’m not alone.

There are many of us, feel free to join.

Be the new sprout.

Soon, you will be bundled with us in count.

 

Grey is what I see.

It’s you and me.

Bearing fruits this coming year’s eve and a few in the new year’s June.

Our green is new but the seasons are the same as the past.

We circle in the same old cycle.

 

Grey is what I see.

We are new this eve and the new month to come, I believe.

And as winter passes and harmattan dances, we won’t be new anymore- so who do we fool?

 

If you ask me, grey is what I see.

Old branches bearing new leaves, soon it becomes the same old tale.

Green leaves or dry leaves; dry leaves or green leaves.

Do we become grey or we already are?

This grey area is real.

Can you deal with it?

 

 

Asford Psalms.

Comments
Continue Reading

Events & Places

2017 Rapperholic Concert – The SADIQ MORE images you must SEE!

Published

on

Here are beguiling Sadiq More -made images from the just-ended 2017 Rapperholic Concert headlined by ace Ghanaian act Sarkodie.

The fifth year running, the show came off at the Accra International Conference Centre Monday, December 25, and witnessed groundbreaking performances from the likes of  Kwesi Arthur, Article Wan, Jayso, Worlasi, King Promise, A.I, Captain Planet, Obrafour, ENO, Feli Nuna, Freda Rhymes, Efya, Becca, Korede Bello, Samini, Epixode, Joey B, Kurl Songx, Kwaw Kese, Magnom, B4bonah, R2Bees, Akwaboah Jnr., Teephlow, Adina, Strongman, and Yung L.

Compered by friend and dancehall singer Charles Nii Armah Mensah (Shatta Wale), the event was graced by industry colleagues and celebrity friends including EIB Network CEO Bola Ray, ZYLOFON boss Nana Appiah Mensah, Black Stars’ skipper Asamoah Gyan, global viral sensation Michael Dapaah (Big Shaq) among others.

See the images below:

Comments
Continue Reading

Photography & Spoken Word

#ENEWSGHPoeticLicence: Harm at hand -Asford Psalms

Published

on

 

These days are new.

Nevertheless, the weather has its own view.

There’s harm at hand, you know?

The harmattan man has returned from his journey of oblivion into our west.

Here, we already knows what he brings, we’ve seen his worst.

I think he enjoys it.

Afterall, he has returned to the home of his brother where he knows his wife brews the best ginger beer; his favorite.

Sharing his travel experience with his younger brother and sipping on some fine, freshly brewed ginger beer, what else could he ask for?

Nothing!

But for us, we ask for less reminiscence.

For the more he does such, he laughs.

And with a ginger beer breath, the air he spouts out of his dry lungs with hysterical wits;

Dries our skin and land.

Fogs our sight.

Crack our lips and foot;

And edifies flames.

 

This harm is though less than a greater one at large.

The land is thirsty.

And I can tell because when the harmattan man is in around, the land has always been thirsty.

But I can’t tell if its the harmattan man’s fault or not.

 

He may have as well dried our pockets since we are in a hurry in search of something.

What?

I do not know.

And with our fogged sight, cracked lips and paddling our cracked feet on the dry land in a search to edify our pocket of needs, we make our own harm at hand.

 

Harmattan man is in town.

The land is dry and thirsty.

It searches for anything to drink.

Water, bear or blood.

I plead not the latter.

And I pray I always remember that in search for better, beard can always be eating without butter.

 

via Asford Psalms

 

 

Comments
Continue Reading

Facebook

Recent Posts

OVER THE PERIOD

Advertisement

First News