Friday 23 March 2012

WALKABOUT: Downtown Accra

The day started meeting with Deborah Ahenkorah (right) and her coworker, Maureen. Deborah created a major prize for children's book stories, given to writers all across Africa. However, these are unpublished stories. Once the authors win prizes, publishers quickly snap them up – a reversal of our process, and far more beneficial in discovering new talent. Deborah heard about my workshop and wanted to learn more about illustration and the process. Deborah is creating a prize to encourage quality visual art in Africa for children's picture books. She is also very excited about new eBook technology as a way of getting loads of books to children who can't afford books.  
After the meeting I headed downtown to the National Museum, then to the busy Makola Market. Here I encountered great hostility to snapping photographs. One man threatened me with his fist. One woman demanded I erase photos from my camera. To stop her from taking the camera out of my hand, I did erase them. People grabbed my arms, yelled, "Hey! White man, come here!" or "Hey Obruni! Obruni!" and in one instance "White man! Get Lost!" However, lots of people smiled and were politely eager to sell and talk. In the back of a trotro, I took the photo of the baby. I saw only four white people in five hours – very few tourists here – so I was struck by the white mannequins (above). Fuseli, the guy on the motorcycle, gave me a ride to the beach and then extended the tour downtown. When I followed him to the peer, he gave coins to a fisherman which allowed me to take photographs. When in Africa, I highly recommend paying for a motorcycle ride. But you have to be brave!