by Sionne R. NeelyAccra is a city in transition. It’s a place filled with a multitude of beautiful, thick struggles.
In January, The New York Times described Accra as “a buzzing metropolis for business and pleasure” rating the city #4 of 46 places in the world to visit in 2013. New residents are continually streaming into the city from all over the country and throughout West Africa. Ghana draws major tourist traffic [The World Bank reports 803,000 visitors in 2009] along with more and more immigrants [and returnees] moving into the city for business opportunities from the U.S., Canada, Thailand, India, China, Lebanon and all over Europe [via Horwath HTL].Earlier this month, The MasterCard African Cities Growth Index rated Accra #1 of 19 cities with the highest growth potential on the continent over the next five years. You see it in the countless construction cranes covering the city, rapidly churning up new luxury developments – shopping malls, high rise offices and lofts, hotels and gated communities. The city is shifting and taking on a different shape. Its five million+ population is bulging at the seams – stuck in tight trotros and taxis on traffic-choked two-lane roads. Fuel prices have risen by 20%, infuriating strapped road travelers still reeling from the government’s recent decision to reduce subsidies. The country’s load shedding of the electricity and water supply – an erratic energy crisis persisting since at least April 2012 – GridCo estimates is costing Ghanaians between 320 to 924 million dollars a year in damaged equipment and replacement costs, spoiled food, transportation costs, and loss of work and social productivity. Furthermore, government authorities and utility service providers are vague and irresponsible in helping residents understand how and when these necessary resources will be restored. Still, Accra is popping. The city is vibrant and alive and ridiculously intoxicating. It’s in the architectural treasures, the languages and people of Accra – deep roots planted in creative self-determination to thrive despite the wahala. Every day Ghanaians make something out of nothing, turning madness into madly beautiful lives. We must recognize this as the life of art or the art of life. It’s the blue cool of James Town and Nima and Adabraka. The boom-boom orchestra of Circle. The bizarre mash of tourists, street entrepreneurs, business folk and party people in Osu. The sweet heat of Kaneshie Market and Cantamanto. The laidback chill of Labone and Dzorwulu. The colonial comfort in Cantonments and Airport Res.
You see, Accra is this strange mix of paradise and hell – a hazy tropical bass dream, a trail of lingering whispering shadows, sunshowers amplified by a tough pride people. It’s a message in a bottle lost at sea. A place of liquid contradictions – short and long, saint and sinner, bitter and sweet, love and apathy, spirit and machine.Accra is brutal bliss. Light on, Light Off. Out of this matrix, a young and energetic corps of young creative people have been emerging, intent to share their stories. They are Leaders of a New School.
FOTO VIM is a new project where we contribute to the DIY [do-it-yourself] culture of innovators shaping a new Accra. By creating original visual content we are spinning our inner visions of Accra into the global mix of ideas about life in the African city.Every month, our ACCRA [dot] ALT team will meet up to create a distinct photo shoot revealing a cool part of the city or the country. Together we are the photographers, art directors, models and stylists for each shoot. This week we’re uploading photos from our Adabraka Session.
Check out the next few posts to see photos of some members of our ACCRA [dot] ALT Team and what they think about life in Accra.
#FreetheRobots – FOTO VIM.