In the late 1980s, mobile cinema businesses were burgeoning in Ghana, bringing film screenings to villages and rural areas without theatres or electricity. These makeshift “video clubs” — usually made up of a diesel generator, a VCR and a TV or projector loaded onto a truck — would travel around the country showcasing Hollywood and Bollywood blockbusters, as well as West African films.
To attract viewers, the video clubs needed to advertise their offerings. But they did not have the original movie posters or the means to print alternatives — the country’s military rulers had even restricted the import of printing presses.
So they made their own, commissioning local artists to hand-paint them on used flour sacks. They were large, usually 40 to 50 inches in width, and 55 to 70 inches in height.
The posters have since made ripples in the art world, with early originals commanding high prices from collectors.
The works are famous for their garish, exuberant style, full of muscles, blood and exaggerated features.
“They were designed to sell movie tickets, it was all about getting people through the doors,” said Brian Chankin, a dealer and collector, on the phone from Ghana. “So the vibe really was to try and make each poster as unique as possible, not to mention as crazy as possible.”
Occasionally, artists took creative license by depicting events that weren’t in the films. “I sometimes watched the movies and picked some actions from it,” said Heavy Jay, an artist who owns a studio in Teshie, near Ghana’s capital Accra, in an email. “But if the movie was so boring, then I had to do it by my own imagination, which mostly features some images and actions that (were) not in the movies, to attract more people to go watch them.”
By the 1990s, the height of the movie club business, several dozen artists were employed to produce the posters. Some of the most popular artists — or their pseudonyms — included Joe Mensah, Nyen Kumah, Leonardo, Socrates, Death is Wonder, Frank Armah and D.A. Jasper.
Brian Chankin began collecting the posters about 10 years ago, just as global interest started building around them. He displayed them on the wall of a video store he owned in Chicago.
“People started wanting to buy them off the wall, so we ended up selling quite a few,” he said. “I was able to gain a little following with them, so I started buying more and more with any money I had. Over the years, hundreds and hundreds of posters have come through my hands, and many of them I keep for my collection.
“There’s some that would go for well into the thousands if I decided to sell them, but those are the ones I am certainly not interested in selling. I know that other people have sold these posters for upwards of $50,000. Anything from the 1980s is just incredibly scarce and incredibly hard to find at this point.”
Demand for video club posters in Ghana started dying out in the mid-2000s when home viewing became more widespread and printing became more practical than commissioning original artworks, which took days to make. Since then, many artists have quit the trade, Chankin said. But some have kept the tradition alive and are now working on commission, either making copies of original posters or painting entirely new ones of both old and new movies.
In 2015, Chankin opened Deadly Prey Gallery, a Chicago-based studio that works with Ghanaian artists. Prices for commissioned posters vary from $300 to $600, and the most requested are from the big 1980s action blockbusters that made the posters famous. “Predator, Terminator, anything with Kurt Russell, anything with (Jean-Claude) Van Damme,” said Chankin, adding: “Horror is arguably the most popular genre.”
With interest seemingly on the rise, the posters are now easy to find online. But, Chankin warned, buyers should beware of modern copies masquerading as old originals.
“There are always bootlegs — they usually try to make the posters look older than they actually are,” he said. “Those ones I could spot in a second, but other people might not be able to.”
THE DIASPORA & AFRICA: The Year of Return in Ghana, Be inspired.
"I was lost but now, I'm found. Was blind but now i see. It was grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home". These are the sacred words of the Christian Hymn, Amazing grace. These words resonate with many Africans in the diaspora and African Americans who have made a conscious effort to rediscover their ancestral roots in Africa.
The feeling is ecstatic. So much emotion, joy, sadness and beauty to rediscover a home your ancestors left many years ago. What a journey it has been.
For many African Americans, its about a different kind of peace rediscovered. A special kind of connection with the African continent that is a dream come true. Where skin colour is not a determining factor of who you are as a person. Where young people can rediscover an identity, a culture, a serene way of life never known in the West.
The year of return definitely is a blessing in disguise for many Africans in the diaspora who have felt empty and lost in a Country they struggle to find an identity and recognition.
Africa has its challenges like all parts of the world. Africa is however a beautiful continent with so much to explore, discover and rediscover. IT gives everyone an opportunity to reassert yourself, your identity and create the world in which possibility abounds.
Visit the African continent and be inspired.
President Calls For Local Content In Media Programmes.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called for the need to have local content in media programmes in Ghana as a matter of regulation, to preserve the rich Ghanaian culture.
The President said the future of tourism rested in the rich culture of the country and it was imperative for the media to promote that culture in a well packaged manner to attract investments for the growth of the economy.
In a speech read on his behalf at the opening of the 2019 edition of the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFAC), by the Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo-Marfo, the President said the Ghanaian culture was as relevant as ever, in national development and must be promoted at all cost.
He said “we cannot continue to be showing foreign telenovelas, cultures and programmes that teaches our children nothing on our national television, whiles our unique culture goes unnoticed”.
The President observed that there was so much potential in the Ghanaian culture with the unique feature of diversity, to educate our children to be responsible and create employment, livelihoods and the needed jobs for our youth.
In that direction, President Akufo-Addo indicated that NAFAC 2019 was premised on concrete achievements worth celebrating and not just an ordinary funfair, disclosing that with financial assistance from Japan, about 3,000 youth had benefited from pilot training programmes in culture and creative arts.
He noted that as contained in the 2016 NPP manifesto, government would progressively pursue the construction of Regional theatres mentioning the completion of some outstanding cultural infrastructure including those in the Eastern and Ashanti regions and plans were underway to complete the rest.
He explained that government was fashioning out ways to establish a Community Youth Cultural Centre and Craft Village at Kanda, Accra, through the private sector to provide suitable marketing avenues for art and craft producers and vendors.
He said government was also spearheading the Marine drive tourism and investments project to open up the doors of Ghana to international investment in tourism, culture and creative arts to create jobs, wealth and promote traditional craftsmanship.
Nana Kwebu Ewusi, Paramount Chief of Abeadzi Traditional area, in the Central Region and Vice President of the National House of Chiefs called for the improvement of culture education in schools, saying, “Science and Technology are only useful when embedded in the culture of the people”.
He said the Commission on National Culture was not well resourced to undertake the role and urged government to strengthen all relevant institutions mandated to preserve and develop Ghana’s culture to improve the economy.
Nana Ewusi, called on all to use the festival to strengthen the common bonding as a people even in diversity and appealed to politicians to eschew politics of insults, divisions and name calling ahead of the 2020 general elections.
Daasebre Professor Oti Boateng, Omanhene of New Juaben Traditional area, said Ghana was not economically independent and therefore must unite as people even in diversity to achieve the Ghana beyond Aid, which seeks to make Ghana a self-dependent economy.
The seven-day NAFAC underway in Koforidua is on the theme: “Empowering the Youth through Culture, Tourism and Creative Arts for Employment and Wealth creation”.
Agora Announces Aboya As Winner Of Its World Photography Competition.
“Songs of Freedom,” an arresting image of boys enjoying music by Michael Aboya, @eightman, a 24 year-old self-taught Ghanaian photographer, has been selected as “Best Photo of the Year” and awarded a grand prize of $25,000 during the official Agora Awards 2019 ceremony held in Barcelona on Wednesday.
After nine months of competition and more than 130,000 submissions from photographers all over the world, the winning image was chosen from 50 finalists.
Unlike any other contest, the #AGORAawards2019, in its third year and open to professional and amateur photographers who canjoin for free, recognizes the single most-voted photo of the year, without any photography genre categories.
For the past nine months, photographers from around the world have submitted their pictures to compete for the title of “Best Photo of the Year” and the $25,000 prize. Now the 50 finalists from more than 130,000 submissions have been announced by the organizers, the Agora Awards #AGORAawards2019.
This is the third year of the contest that recognizes the “single most-voted photo of the year, without any photography genre categories,” including amateurs and professional photographers alike who can join for free.
J.A.K. Foundation Launches Giant Uplugged Charity Concert, Set To Build An Arts Theatre.
GREATER ACCRA, GHANA - The John Agyekum Kufuor (J.A.K.) Foundation, an independent, non-partisan development oriented institution inspired by the founder’s vision, has officially instituted a musical concert dubbed, Giant Unplugged Charity Musical Concert in honor of the Ex-President, John Agyekum Kufuor and to raise funds for establishing an endowment fund to support the John A. Kufuor Foundation in completing its flagship leadership programs over infinite years, precisely the arts and theatrical projects.
The ultra- modern Kufuor center for Leadership and Governance, a facility under construction on the campus of University of Ghana Legon when completed would seat 500 people in its state-of-the-arts auditorium and other facilities such as conference halls, library, 15 offices plus a presidential suit, 5 seminars and mentoring halls, and recreational and restaurant facilities. This would be the center for all activities of the foundation. From the Kufuor scholars program to the annual lectures among others.
The launch which was hosted at the residence of the former president at Tetteh Quarshie, Accra will see the main event being stage on the 7th of December, 2019 at the Fantasy Dome, La, Accra. The concert is expected to raise funds to complete the project and also help produce leaders imbued with a strong sense of patriotism; leaders who are innovative, problem solvers, creative thinkers and knowledgeable in their respective fields of endeavour. It is a program known for its excellence in grooming transformational leaders of tomorrow.
The event was attended by notable and illustrious creative and art pratictioners, including actors and musicians, thus, Prince David Osei, Kalybos, Bisa Kdei, Captain Smart, Lucky Mensah, Coach Kwesi Appiah, Salma Mumin, Prince Yawson aka Waakye, Kaakyire Kwame Appiah, Bob Smith Jnr, Bismark the Joke, Fiifi Coleman, Harold Amenya, Legendary Kwame Ampadu etc.
The former president envisions an establishment of a peaceful, well governed and economically sustainable society in Ghana and Africa on the pillars of the foundation -leadership, governance and economic development. H.E the Chairman of the foundation believes that “Good leadership results in good governance which leads to good socio economic development” thus the foundations focus to develop good leadership characteristics among the youth of this country through it’s programs.
Last year, in raising 80 million Ghana Cedi’s, the foundation plans to allocate amounts for its projects as follows; 5 million dollars will be used to construct an ultra-modern center for leadership and governance, while the remaining 10 million dollars will be invested into an Endowment fund. The returns on the investment in this fund will be used in the running of various projects of the foundation. These projects include: The Kufuor Scholars Program (KSP), The Kufuor Young Entrepreneurs Network, Annual lecture Series on Governance and Development, The Kufuor Election Observers Groups, andThe Kufuor Prize for Best Community Leadership.
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