@africashowboy¬†on Instagram, Nana Kofi Acquah is an ex-creative director, a father, and a photographer from Ghana. It’s on Instagram where he contributes to Everyday Africa, the ever-growing social media project co-founded by Peter DiCampo and Austin Merrill. A collection of mobile phone photography by various photographers based on the continent or visiting it, Everyday Africa will soon be available as a hardcover photobook. As one of its editors, Nana kept a question in his mind throughout the selection process:¬†How do we capture the diversity of the continent in a fresh way, and still avoid the stereotypical traps that plague most books on Africa?
We asked him to share more about the project and the significance of changing perceptions of Africa. Starting with the cover:
I like the cover photo (above). It is my daughter flaunting her afro. I am glad she is proud of her hair. After many years of stigmatisation and ridicule, it is understandable that most young Africans are unsure of who they are. We have come to accept western standards of beauty, which is a shame. It breaks my heart to watch a beautiful woman bleach the melanin out of her skin because she’s been made to believe the lighter your skin, the prettier you are.
Contrary to prevalent perceptions about Africa, we are not always at war, we are not always starving, lions don’t loiter in every neighbourhood and not everybody is a beggar. “Everyday Africa” is about showing the whole of Africa; not just the parts that others consider newsworthy.
In 2007, I started a blog called “A Window to Ghana and Africa”. My objective was to showcase the Africa I lived in. My inspiration came from the frustration I faced at the time as a Creative and Photographer, who often had the unfortunate burden of consistently having to prove that we were just as capable as the best. There was a time in Ghana when if people saw a good photo on a billboard, they naturally assumed somebody was flown in to come and shoot it or that the image was a stock photo. Everything Everyday Africa stands for, totally ties in with my objectives for starting that blog.
If we can change what the rest of the world thinks about Africa, we can change how the world deals with and interacts with Africa. Isn’t it ridiculous that African countries always seem to get the short end of the stick in business and commerce? Why is the African professional, compared to colleagues from other parts of the world, often paid less? ¬†What’s the difference between an expatriate and an immigrant? Why do others determine the price of our gold and diamonds and cocoa and timber? None of these will change until we change the image of Africa.
Featured image by¬†Laura El-Tantawy.
Many thanks to Peter DiCampo and Nana Kofi Acquah.