The Ambitious Artists of Accra

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lhanson
May 5, 2014


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Culture

The Ambitious Artists of Accra

One stop on the city tour was to meet the tribal chief of the Nima neighborhood (seated on the right). If there were conflicts in his neighborhood that didn’t need to involve the police –religious, marital, business disputes, etc– residents would go to the chief and he would decide what needed to be done. His edicts were respected and obeyed by all in the community.
One stop on the city tour was to meet the tribal chief of the Nima neighborhood (seated on the right). If there are conflicts in his neighborhood that doesnt’t involve the police – such as religious, marital, business disputes, etc– residents go to the chief and he will decide what needed to be done. His edicts are respected and obeyed by all in the community.

Nima Muhinmanchi Art (NMA) is a collective of artists dedicated to empowering youth and aspiring artists through a variety of creative outlets in Accra, Ghana. Representatives from NMA spent a day with a group of SAS students and showcased their public murals, toured small art studios and taught a painting class.

A group of civically engaged artists living in the neighborhood of Nima came together in 2011 with the desire to help transform their community through art. They have worked tirelessly to “reshape perceptions of Nima through cultural programs, rethink public space in Accra through mural paintings, and address a gap in the nation’s educational system by providing free after-school art classes.”

Below are some of the many inspiring moments from the day spent exploring the city with a group of kind and welcoming NMA guides.

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Through many different mediums, members of NMA are able to explore topics from politics to romance. Rufai Zakari, pictured on the right, feels that the NMA collective is a conduit for creative expression. “Artists by themselves keep everything inside,” he said. “Our hope is to bring our work to the community.”
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The first president of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, is depicted here as a symbolic bridge between Ghana’s past and the future. Our guide explained how Nkrumah, whose nickname was Osagyefo which means “redeemer” in the Twi language, inspired his citizens to dream of a thriving and modern Ghana. This mural was of particular interest to Phoebe Szeton of the University of Colorado Boulder. “I learned about the struggles and challenges they were dealing with now and their visions for a better, more prosperous and peaceful future.”
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The group was impressed to see that none of the public murals had been defaced or covered in graffiti. They took it as a sign of respect for NMA and a desire to beautify their neighborhood.
While exploring all of the art studios buried deep in the Nima neighborhoods, our group generated a lot of attention from local families. The children were very happy to show us around and keep us company.
While exploring all of the art studios buried deep in the Nima neighborhoods, our group generated a lot of attention from local families. The children were very happy to show us around and keep us company.
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Although the market scene pictured on the left seemed chaotic to our group, this was in fact one of the slower days for Nima. On Wednesdays (we were there on a Friday) farmers and vendors come from all over the country to hawk their wares. The painting on the right was displayed at one of the neighborhood studios the group visited. Although this is a more traditional African painting, the subject matter of the other artwork we saw varied greatly between topics such as politics, family and identity.
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The final activity was a painting lesson from NMA’s art teachers. Under the guidance of talented instructors, SAS students were able to produce artwork many have since hung proudly in their cabins. Phoebe Szeton from the University of Colorado Boulder found the lessons to be meditative and a nice escape from the world. “The best part was when one of the local girls hopped onto my lap and helped me finish painting it.”

 

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