PHOTOSCAPES IN ACCRA: OFOE AMEGAVIE SPEAKS

Story by MOLLY SULLIVAN | Photography by SELORM JAY

OFOE 27 - APRIL 2014 - ACCRA DOT ALT

As photography in Ghana continues to gain recognition, Ofoe Amegavie is definitely one to watch. At 26 years old, Ofoe’s work has quickly gained an international audience with folks across the continent, Europe and North America, checking for his latest additions. The photographer is still finding his voice and evolving into his craft, but this freedom is also part of his aesthetic.  Ofoe shoots in a state of unlimited inspiration, working with what currently intrigues him and avoiding what he finds repetitive and tired. With projects like “Studio of Colors”, an ongoing photo series dealing with diverse representations of African print, he aims to show subjects in a fresh way, distinct from how “Africa-ness” is commercially marketed. Ofoe instantly knows what he does not like. This opens the portal towards a constant, adventurous search for what might break the mold.This story was first published on Africa Is A Country READ MORE HERE Continue reading

ACCRA’S LOKKO MAMA: STEFANIA MANFREDA

As told to Nana Osei Kwadwo  |  photos by Selorm Jay

Chilling like a boss - Stefania

Chilling like a boss – Stefania Manfreda outside the Lokko ’08 store

Five years ago when STEFANIA MANFREDA and her business partner, Alon Hassid, realized there was a building frenzy taking place in Accra, they decided to turn their designer T-shirt line into a concept store. This birthed the Lokko’08 store, where contemporary Ghanaian art and lifestyles are articulated.

The Lokko’08, located on Lokko Street in Osu, is a hub of coolness showcasing emerging designs in photography, fashion, music, and technology. The urban shop is quickly and quietly playing its part in the creative renaissance sweeping across the city.

Lokko’08 is gaining popularity not only for its support for young artists but also for its one-of-a-kind offerings. The store stands out as one of the few places where you can cop fresh and different threads in the city. For example, Lokko’08 exhibits and sells the slick works of street photographer, Tacitus Nana-Yabani, chunky Adinkra necklaces from Clove Clothing, beads and bracelets from the ever-popular Heel the World [HTW], hip hop artist M.anifest’s latest Apae album, as well as music by Nigerian Afro-fusion singer, Villy. In addition to all this, Stefania is cooking plans to make Lokko’08 a serious, weekend joint where people can chill after work on Fridays, jam up on Saturdays or wind down on Sundays.

I visited Stefania at Lokko’08 and we talked for a bit about the vision for the concept store, what it’s like being an entrepreneur in Ghana, and how you, too, can rock the Lokko look.

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Icon From An African City: MaameYaa Boafo

New York based Ghanaian actress MaameYaa Boafo was in Accra a couple of months ago during the shooting of the web series, An African CityMantse Aryeequaye took MaameYaa on a walk through the back roads of Dzorwulu, a suburb of Accra, for some photos capturing that “fly Ghana girl back home” vibe. Nana Osei Kwadwo chatted with her later on about An African City.

MaameYaa finds home in Accra!

MaameYaa finds home in Accra!

The first time I saw MaameYaa Boafo in Nicole Amarteifio’s An African City, I thought she was beautiful, fierce and versatile. She stars as one of five women characters, in the webisode, that returns to live in Accra after years of studying and working abroad. Debuting less than a couple months ago, the series has quickly gained a popular online following with major media shout-outs hailing via Ebony Magazine, BBC News, BET and NPR.

With comparisons being made to Sex in the City, the webisode is growing its audience by the day and captivating folks with African fashion, fly natural hairstyles and “awkward African girl” situations as the women support one another in acclimating to life in Ghana again.

Taking a Royal walk on the highway!

Taking a Royal walk on the highway.

MaameYaa has lived most of her life traveling around the globe but currently calls New York City home. She’s now working on a new project with renowned African American novelist and playwright, Walter Mosley, as well as a few new films.

Curious to know more about MaameYaa, I caught up with her recently to chat about acting, what it means to be Ghanaian, and her role in An African City. Continue reading

NAIJA FUNK JUNKIE: VILLY MAKES ACCRA HOME

As told to Molly Sullivan | Photography by Mantse Aryeequaye

Villy gets his first experience at the Old Accra harbor in James Town-Accra

Villy gets his first experience at the Old Accra harbor in James Town-Accra

Nigerian Afro-fusion singer, Villy, describes his music as limitless – a free expression that breaks form and expectation. Inspired by a variety of artists, he blurs the lines between genres to create a distinct style that does not adhere to rules or guidelines. By combining rock, soul, hip hop, jazz and a consistent African influence, Villy has created a new sound that is accessible to all but firmly roots African music on the map. Accra got a proper feel for his music at last year’s IND!E FUSE.

Now Villy and his band (THE XTREME VOLUMES) have chosen to uproot and continue the music mission in Ghana, and they are not wasting any time. With a major concert coming up in a few weeks, we were happy to talk with Villy about Afro-fusion music, Nigeria’s wahala, and his move to Ghana. Continue reading

Public Space Hijackers: Get Ready to GoLokal

Story by NANA OSEI KWADWO | Photography by MANTSE ARYEEQUAYE & SELORM JAY

Going Local with GoLokal

Going Local with GoLokal

Two years ago when visual artist Attukwei Clottey decided to showcase work in his hometown, La, he knew he had to get an enthusiastic group of young folks to buy into the idea. Attukwei wanted the people of La to understand the power of art and how it could transform their community.

Between art residencies in Austria and Netherlands, Attukwei took action and assembled a gathering of characters under the pseudonym “GoLokal.” He adopted this name because of the indigenous style of this artist crew – visually provoking, eclectic, cool yet vibrant. GoLokal is comprised of ten members in total [6 guys, 4 girls] who are quite passionate about their newfound mission.

Serge Attukwei, The god of GoLokal

Serge Attukwei, the god of GoLokal

Since 2012, GoLokal has gained an ever-expanding audience with major performance at art events across the city. In 2013, the crew arrested the attention of attendees’ at ACCRA [dot] ALT’s CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival, literally, taking over the street with improve performances. They even led a grand parade down High Street with the Flat Land Boys bikers and the 25-member Winneba Masquerade. Last month, we jammed up with GoLokal at the 2nd annual FashionistaGH Shopping Festival at Trade Fair. With collage costumes, bright yellow jerry cans, slick face paint and killer dance moves, GoLokal had crowds snapping smartphone pics all afternoon. Word on the street is the people can’t get enough of the La mobile art shows.

No matter how often we work with Attukwei and the rest of the GoLokal crew, we are consistently fascinated by their fresh performance installations. Last week, I visited Attukwei at his art studio to chat on how GoLokal began, what they’re all about and what the art crew’s got going next. Continue reading

HOME FOR INSPIRATION: TAWIAH’S ACCRA REUNION

Tawiah - Accra dot Alt

Stopping traffic in Downtown Accra

by MOLLY SULLIVAN | photos by ABASS ISMAIL and MANTSE ARYEEQUAYE

A year after her first Skype Talk Party Series experience, TAWIAH’s much anticipated return to Accra proved to be well worth the wait.

An intimate evening with the Ghanaian British singer/songwriter began with an open Q&A, where questions sprung out about her creative process and the musicians that influenced her at ages 8, 16, 24, and now (her list included gospel, Wu-tang Clan, Erykah Badu, Radiohead, Me’shell Ndegeocello, the Spice Girls, and her own stuff)

Accra dot Alt

Posing with a thrift store owner in Downtown Accra

Accompanied by Tawiah’s commentary, we screened music videos from FREEdom DROP, her illmatic mixtape released last March. Videos for  “TearDROP”“FACes”, and “SEAlion”- all teased the crowd into stunned silence. Tawiah shared with us the inspiration for these songs, the vision behind the videos, and amusing anecdotes from her creation process. She discussed the decision to set the music video for “FACes” in Accra, the choice to deviate from the standard song structure with “SEAlion”, and her inability to sink during the filming of “TearDROP”.

Tawiah 7 - Accra do Alt

Posting up outside a clothing stall in Northridge

The evening concluded with a chillingly beautiful, live performance. Tawiah, poised for utter destruction, propped up her guitar on a knee, a loop station beneath her feet. There was a noticeable shift in the room when Tawiah began to sing – a collective leaning in of bodies gravitating towards the perfect plethora of sound making. The set included two new songs from a forthcoming album this year. Upon much pleading from the audience, Tawiah consented to perform again, this time with a slow jam remix of Soul for Real’s ’95 classic, “Candy Rain”.

Luckily, amidst the praise and congratulations from fans that followed, we were able to pull Tawiah aside for some final questions about the reception to FREEdom DROP, her two week visit in Ghana, and what to expect next from the musician.

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The ACCRA Theatre WorkSHOP: African x Avant-Garde

Story by TAYLOR EDELHART | Photography by SELORM JAY

Elisabeth Sutherland 2 - FEBRUARY 2014 - ACCRA DOT ALT

Elisabeth Sutherland is trying to figure out how uncomfortable to make her next piece.

“There’s going to be a giant caterpillar and a giant tree monster,” she says with a smile, referring to the large-scale puppets, a trademark of hers, that she’s planning on incorporating into the piece. “I’m going to ask the people who audition for it to evolve from a single-celled organism, and if they can’t do that, if they can’t get down on the ground and improvise, they can’t be in the show.” Continue reading

HIGHLIGHTS OF 2013: THE GIRL WHO BROUGHT YOU KWAKU ANANSE

words by NANA OSEI KWADWO | images by MANTSE ARYEEQUAYE

The Kwaku Ananse premier in July was everything a film loving crowd would hope for ; great turn out, a participatory crowd and fierce music. The 26 minute short immortalizes the mythical spider by constructing a fresh narrative that retells this famous Ananse tale with multilayered, moody, elliptical shots of a wandering Jojo Abot, who plays Ananse’s daughter. The film suggests that stories normally seen through the lens of post-colonialism could just as easily be seen in existential or mythic terms.

For the record this film had the biggest turn out for an experimental Ghanaian picture, which is a refreshing start. Ghana isn’t known for experimental artsy movies and over the years John Akomfrah has been the only reference when such conversations came up. Our lame claim to his notoriety can stop now.

Adoma at the numbers station.

Adoma at the numbers station.

Akosua Adoma - James Town - 2013 Tagged 8Akosua Adoma Owusu represents a new wave of filmmakers making bold attempts at disrupting the Ghanaian narrative in order to create new forms of story telling that involve risk taking. Hopefully these risks will explore new audiences and markets that would in turn create Ghanaian cinema the world looks forward to. This Kwaku Ananse story feeds our curiosities and creative interpretations made by the audacious individuals it features.

Grace Omaboe who plays Ananse’s wife has not been in a Ghanaian movie for years. At the height of her career, she was in a very popular TV drama series ‘OBRA’. Then through the mid to late 90′s she had a TV show “By The Fire Side” where she told Ananse stories to children. For the people old enough to remember, this film is like a time machine that travels into that past but tells the story in a sequence far removed from what a Ghanaian audience might be used to.

Another character worth mentioning in the movie is Highlife living legend Agya Koo Nimo who played Kweku Ananse. Koo Nimo brought such character volume to the 26 minute picture, it begged further exploration. That was four months ago, Adoma has since gone on to start new projects, but this is certainly worth the reminder.

We caught up with Akosua Adoma Owusu recently during our STROLLING GOATS episode and talked about film and her new projects.

AKOSUA ADOMA OWUSU hangs low on James Town Beach

AKOSUA ADOMA OWUSU hangs low on James Town Beach

What first interested you in film?

Well, my background was in the fine arts, specifically, printmaking and sculpture. I discovered my interest in filmmaking after studying 16mm Cinematography at the University of Virginia with an African American filmmaker, Kevin Jerome Everson. Kevin came from a working-class background – I identified with this in Virginia – and his work in experimental short films and traveling to film festivals really inspired me. So I decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Film/Video and Art at CalArts against my parents’ wishes. They wanted me to be more practical and pursue a career in medicine like basically all Ghanaian parents. But creating art through a cinematic medium really spoke to me and impassioned me far more than any “practical” choice could have.

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KING AYISOBA: Kologo Message Music

By KATHARINE M. ORTIZ | photos by Sionne Neely

KING AYISOBA's Kologo Music | photo by Sionne Neely

KING AYISOBA’s Kologo Music | photo by Sionne Neely

The first time I heard KING AYISOBA’s sound, I was hypnotized. It was at ADA’s Masquerade Jam last month.  With only his kologo [a banjo-like instrument] and a raw oscillating voice, King Ayisoba commanded the stage and had the audience jumping and singing with vim.

Watching him perform live takes the northern musician’s mystic prowess to a whole new level.  The King of Kologo music has been making waves on the Ghana and international music scene for close to a decade, bringing traditional flavor to the forefront of pop culture. Always cool and collected, King Ayisoba’s distinct, electric voice carries a timeless message backed by music that’s too good to shake down.
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“Preserving Memory as Future”: An Interview with AIDA Muluneh

by Sionne Neely

Marie-Ange Bordas - "I was too young"

MARIE-Ange BORDAS: “I was too young” | photo courtesy of Addis Foto Fest 2012

AIDA MULUNEH is definitely a force to be reckoned with. The photographer and filmmaker heads up ADDIS FOTO FEST – a biannual, international photography festival in Addis Ababa that brings a diverse cadre of African photographers together to showcase their work [the third installation is Dec 2014]. In direct response to how Ethiopia has been popularly imagined by western development + media agencies since the 1980s, Aida is building an appreciation for photography among the Ethiopian public by re-working how photography takes shape in the country. The festival develops the capacity of emerging Ethiopian photographers to tell their own compelling stories.

I caught up with my fellow Howard U Film Dept. comrade on a recent trip to Accra. Here we rap about Addis Foto Fest and how emerging Ethiopian photographers are in a unique position to transform the country’s visual future.

AIDA Drives | photo courtesy of Addis Foto Fest 2012

Drive AIDA Drive | photo courtesy of Addis Foto Fest 2012

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