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

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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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KWAKU ANANSE MAKES GHANA DEBUT

The director Akosua Adoma Owusu | photo by Mantse Aryeequaye

Director Akosua Adoma Owusu | photo by Mantse Aryeequaye

AKOSUA ADOMA OWUSU’s approach to Ghanaian folklore reconstructs the history of the mythical spider, Kwaku Ananse, in a way that forces a modern day interpretation of stories that have defined Ghanaian storytelling for eons. This Ananse story recreates the old legend through a transformative apparatus that bends and melds storytelling into a new history. Kwaku Ananse premieres in Ghana on July 4th at Alliance Francaise. The film stars Highlife music legend Koo Nimo, veteran actor Grace Omaboe, and Ghanaian indie music artist Jojo Abot, who plays the lead character in the film. Kwaku Ananse has screened at several international film festivals including the Cannes Film Festival and Berlinale. The film also won Best Short Film at the African Movie Academy Awards this Spring and has also been shortlisted at the French Cesar Academy.

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OWUSU chills in James Town | photo by Mantse Aryeequaye

Watch this space for full updates on KWAKU ANANSE’s director AKOSUA ADOMA OWUSU.Image

The Adventures of Solomon Spiderman

LATELY JAMES TOWN HAS BEEN BRIMMING with all kinds of creativity. While taking photos in the cool urban fishing community this week, we ran into a teenager with a lovely imagination.

We met 15-year-old Solomon Ayitey sauntering around the neighborhood in his Spiderman costume and cracking jokes with middle-aged ladies. He stopped to pose and show us what James Town is made of. This made us wonder…what would a Kwaku Ananse costume look like?!

Somebody really needs to get on that one.

All photos by Abass Ismail for ACCRA [dot] ALT.

The Adventures of Solomon Spiderman | photo by ACCRA [dot] ALT

The Adventures of Solomon Spiderman | photo by ACCRA [dot] ALT

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