Mandela and Nkrumah come alive on AU Day at the Osu Oxford Street Mall

Brush stroke after brush stroke, it took the genius of multi-talented artist Mohammed Awudu to bring alive a smiling Nelson Mandela and a forward-looking Kwame Nkrumah on a canvas in front of the Osu Shopping Mall.

Dubbed, the Africa Day Live Graffiti & Mural Painting, the Osu Oxford Street acknowledged the struggles that led to the discovery of the African identity through the innovative event organized by MohArt and Wetwater Studio on Africa Unity Day, May 25, 2015.

Many people caught a glimpse of the work of art in progress while others waited for it to materialize into the South African anti-apartheid revolutionary leader and Ghana’s first president as promised.

To the admiration of those gathered, the Mandela and Nkrumah mural was a touch of class interwoven by various colours representing the African diversity with the message; the unity of Africa is paramount.

Mohammed Awudu, popularly called Moh, said he was overwhelmed by the support and interest from Ghanaians and tourists alike who passed by to see his handiwork. He expressed appreciation to the management of the Osu Oxford Street Mall and the other partners who made the day a success.

Moh has featured in many international art projects including Amatthan Art Workshop in Lagos, Tabom Graffiti Project, Nima for Peace project, Imagine Accra, Tales of Two Cities, ChaleWote Street Art Festival, Samsung Note Live Portrait Artist among others.

The facilitator of this art attack, multi-talented and award-winning artist Mohammed Awudu, says he chose to undertake this project because he believes in telling stories of great men through art for the youth to aspire to appreciable levels of success.

Mohammed Awudu, popularly known as Moh, has painted many graffiti murals with the most recent being that of Kwame Nkrumah to commemorate Ghana’s 58th Independence Day at the Kanda Highway in Accra.

Moh has also featured in international art projects including Amatthan Art Workshop in Lagos, Tabom Graffiti Project, Nima for Peace project, Imagine Accra, Tales of Two Cities, ChaleWote Street Art Festival, Samsung Note Live Portrait Artist among others.

As the founder of the Ghana Association of Graffiti and Mural Fine Artists, Moh, with the help of friends, promises to bring excitement and expertise to graffiti art in Ghana.

See below the beautiful mural painted by Moh on African Unity Day.

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Bleaching creams to flood Ghana as Cote d’Ivoire, Mecca of its production bans the products

Days after a ban was issued by Ghana’s neighbour, Cote d’Ivoire, on skin lightening products, the mantle has been passed onto the government of Ghana to heighten its checks on the influx of such harmful products onto the Ghanaian market.

Cote d’Ivoire, notable for the production of assorted skin lightening products, banned them because of “fears of lasting damage to health”, says the Ivorian health ministry.

The ban affects whitening creams and lotions containing mercury and its derivatives, cortisone, vitamin A or more than two percent hydroquinine, a lightening agent that is used to develop photographs.

“The number of people with side effects caused by these medicines is really high,” said Christian Doudouko, a member of Ivory Coast’s pharmaceutical authority, warning that they could cause skin cancer.

The use of the creams is increasing in Ghana and also believed to be even more widespread in Nigeria.

Every cosmetic shop in Makola Market, main market of the Central Business District of Accra displays varieties of skin lightening products with very attractive packaging and names mostly from Cote d’Ivoire.

Although the phenomenon of skin bleaching is not new and the effects visible on the streets of major cities of the country, a directive from government against its sale is yet to be conveyed.

Samuel Tete Katchan paintings at Francophonie Festival 2015

The 2015 Francophonie Festival held at the Alliance Francaise in Accra in March displayed a number of artworks. Our spotlight today is on the paintings of Togolese artist based in Ghana, Samuel Tete

Our spotlight today is on the paintings of Togolese artist based in Ghana, Samuel Tete Katchan. They were displayed at the Art Studio of Alliance Francaise.

Enjoy sceneries from the Festival below and the paintings by the talented painter, Samuel Tete Katchan.

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Accra gives Jazz legend, Earl Klugh, a standing ovation

Characterized by an outpour of Jazz enthusiasts, the Stanbic Ghana Jazz Festival in Accra savoured live the all-time favourite records of legendary Jazz musician, Earl Klugh, who himself was stunned by the warm reception at the Accra International Conference Centre on February 19-20, 2015.

With songs including Midnight in San Juan, Heartstring, Wishful Thinking, Vonetta and Cabo Frio, the discerning audience called for more from the 61-year-old master of the acoustic classical guitar.

Earl Klugh touched the right nerves with his 5-man band made up of Stan Sergeant on the electric bass guitar, Tom Braxton on the alto/soprano sax and flute, Marcus Finnie on the drums and hilarious David Lee Spradley on the piano.

Applause after applause to each song in the hour and a half performance, Earl Klugh expressed appreciation for the kind reception Ghanaians gave him. The man of few words said: “This is a wonderful experience and I want to thank all of you and my band.”

The band displayed classic skill as each member pulled a stunning display in between performances. Stuck in the memories of the audience will be that of drummer, Marcus Finnie, who at the seeming end of the performance twirled his drumsticks rhythmically across his trap set for close to five minutes winning the admiration of all including the other band members.

One of Earl Klugh’s oldest songs, ‘Vonetta’ brought the Jazz spectacle to an end with the audience on their feet in applause as the band took a bow.

Crème de la crème of Ghana were present at the festival including former President John Agyekum Kufuor, Nana Akufo-Addo, Dr Kwesi Botchway, Albert and Comfort Ocran, Fred Amugi, Kofi Anyidoho among a host of other prominent people in the country.

The two-day festival also witnessed performances from Ghana’s Jasper Band, Big Wellington Trio, Kyekyeku, Stanbic Rhythms, Akablay, Bernard Ayisa-Victor Dey Quintet and legendary Ebo Taylor.

Watch Earl Klugh below as he performed ‘Wishful Thinking’ at the Accra International Conference Centre.

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Bringing creative artworks to the people, Ghana’s ‘Art Prophet’ paves the way

The creative arts industry in Ghana receives the least of attention from policy makers and the public who have lost interest in the art hence killing the talents of many creative artists at the expense of the performing arts.

In Accra, the only place that comes to mind when creative artworks are needed is the Art Centre of the Centre for National Culture, where there is a pool of creative artists who mostly display their works to foreign nationals from Europe and America.

One creative artist who refuses to let the industry die out in its misery is sexagenarian scrap metal sculptor, Wanssi Massimo, who displays his sculptures in a pavement garden at Abelenkpe Junction, off the Olusegun Obasanjo Way in Accra.

Massimo, who hails from Nkonya in the Volta Region, believes art should be a consequential part of nature and his philosophy got him to secure the Garden Gallery which is under a tree with the greenery projecting the message his works convey.

Born on October 22, 1954, Wanssi Massimo calls himself an ‘Art Prophet’ because according to him, everything he touched from infancy, turned into art. Massimo, who has lived in many African countries including Tanzania and Togo says his quest in life is to demystify art as many Africans still relate it to sorcery.

Before opening up the Green Gallery in 2014, Massimo displayed his scrap metal sculptures in galleries across the country as well as exhibitions worldwide. He has participated in exhibitions in Togo, Nigeria, Benin and the United States of America where he believes the market is more in tune with the art than Ghana.

The ‘Art Prophet’ says Ghana has no art market, attributing the failure in that regard to the walls built around art works in the country which makes it difficult for people to see and express an interest.

“People cannot even get close to beautiful artworks created from the environment which are locked up in galleries. As soon as they take a peep through the glass windows, they refrain from entering with the notion that it is expensive. Art is priceless,” he said.

Massimo explains that the only market in the country for creative artworks are for expatriates who know the worth of art but, unfortunately, buy in seasons. He believes the appreciation level is very low in Ghana.

At his gallery, you will find beautiful fabrications made of scrap metal either shaped in human forms performing activities like drumming; or animal forms like the snake and giraffe. The giraffe, for example, has its mid-section made up of a small gas cylinder and its head made of some bolts and nuts.

Massimo chooses to leave the meanings of each sculpture to the eyes and mind of each observer to decipher according to their state of mind.

The scrap metals, he said, are handpicked by himself at the Agbogbloshie and Gallaway markets in Accra where most of the scrap metals from the city are disposed of. He then takes them to his workshop cum residence at Alajo where it takes days or weeks to mould depending on the inspiration he has.

He credits his wife of 33 years and four daughters for his inspiration as he always involves them in selection of what to be fixed where, with the aim of depicting natural situations that will create a story in the mind’s eye.

Wanssi Massimo started his display of sculptures at the pavement garden with one sculpture some two years ago. His motive was to observe the natural reaction of people who saw it; surprisingly, it was positive.

The responses got him to add other sculptures to the open-air gallery which led him to secure a license to legally occupy the pavement garden with his works. Aside beautifying the area, the gallery feeds himself and his family exclusively.

Massimo hopes to expand his gallery for a better capture of people’s imagination and is optimistic the upcoming artists will follow his lead to feed art to the people rather than wait for the people to come to art; which in Ghana, is almost impossible.

He cited an example of a government official who saw some of his sculptures and expressed interest. At the mention of the price, the Minister exclaimed: “Is this something edible?”

Massimo shuddered in awe at the attitude of policy makers regarding the creative art industry. He believes those in authority do not understand the creative arts hence their inability to give a listening ear to artists.

“They should advise us on what to advise them for them to listen to us for once,” he concludes.

As long as there are people like Wanssi Massimo, creative arts will live on.

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