Why Is Africa Begging?

Last night, I went to the Goethe Institute in Accra to see their current exhibit open. I go to a lot of these events, being a lover of the arts, but this one was special becuase the artists were school children - well, rather youths - and hence represent the future of Ghanaian art.

There were giraffes, portraits, market scenes and animal sculptures - most notably a beautiful plaster owl made by a young man not much bigger then the owl itself.

But there was also a piece that grabbed my attention because of its clear message. Allison Elisabeth and Pele Vuncujovi had together created the African continent in papier maché - richly decorated in red, green and gold. In the middle of the continent a pair of black hands mysteriously stretch out, as if they were asking for something. As you stand back to look at the installation, you see a question mark circling the hands.

In the picture the artists by their work.

8 comments:

Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

Such clever child artists. Putting such a clever motif in art. I like! And, yes, maybe we best ask the question and suggest no answers.

Esi W. Cleland said...

I think part of the reason africa is begging is because it is only kids who go to GIS as in the picture whose art gets displayed at the Goethe institute. Their concerns are a little different from the concerns of the kids in my village. Their art speaks of the life they know and nothing about the lives or hopes of the majority. There isn't enough inclusion. No real fresh voices who change the conversation...a kid from GIS becoming a world class artist is wonderful but changes little in his community (say airport residential). A kid from my villaga becoming a world class artist impacts the whole village and inspires hope. Africa needs to put agency in the hands of the majority at the bottom.

posekyere said...

I share fully the sentimnets of Esi. Until the economic survivability of a critical mass of our population is achieved, the effort to sculpture a new African identity will remain a losing battle. We need the standards at GIS repricated not only in Accra but also at Mim, lawra and the remotest corners of the land. Until that is done our efforts will continue to be too-little-too-late in perpetuity and Africa will continue to be where it is; because the heavyweight of the 'majority at the bottom' will continue to overwhelm the featherweight attempts dotted across the continent.

Kajsa Hallberg Adu said...

Thanks for commenting. Yes, NY, they are so clever! And just as Esi and Posekyere, I also believe education is the way forward for Africa. Multiplying the quality of instruction at Ghana International School (GIS) to the masses should be the Ghanaian government's first priority. Why isn't it?

Anonymous said...

I like their art and the message that they wanted to send out.
The hands were coming out from Gold, which represents the richness of the continent.
Africa is rich, yet Africa is stil begging.
After more than 50 years, Africa is still begging. We've got Gold, Diamond, Oil and other minerals, yet we are still begging.
Why??????

Yes these kids are from GIS living in the Airport Residential in Accra. I think that's why they feel and wonder this way and made this art piece sending their message. Their parents maybe working in Ghana at the Oil company or Gold mining whatever, and their life in Accra may be similar to that in London or New York. They may be seeing people including children on the Kanda Highway on their way to GIS, and questioning, "why Africa is still poor and the life of majority Africans is different from that of developed countries?

Kids in the village in the north may not feel that way.
These young kids'art at least sends strong message to the viewers of their art, whether they are majority or minority in Ghana.

Their feeling and questions are expressed through the art piece, that is ART anyway.

Ama@Accra

Anonymous said...

I like their art and the message that they wanted to send out.
The hands were coming out from Gold, which represents the richness of the continent.
Africa is rich, yet Africa is stil begging.
After more than 50 years, Africa is still begging. We've got Gold, Diamond, Oil and other minerals, yet we are still begging.
Why??????

Yes these kids are from GIS living in the Airport Residential in Accra. I think that's why they feel and wonder this way and made this art piece sending their message. Their parents maybe working in Ghana at the international Oil or Gold mining company whatever, and their life in Accra may be similar to that in London or New York. They may be seeing people including children on the Kanda Highway on their way to GIS, and questioning, "why is Africa still poor and the life of majority Africans is different from that of developed countries?

Kids in the village in the north may not feel that way.

The art of these young kids at least sends the strong message to the viewers of their art, whether they are majority or minority in Ghana.

Their feelings and questions are expressed well in their art work. ART is like that anyway.

Anonymous said...

This comment may be a bit (well, okay rather late), but I only just stumbled onto this blog today and was looking around. I went to GIS all my life and I disagree with Esi - just because one attends a private international school it does not mean that one is blind and unaware of the issues around him. You interpret their art as they live a rich life so they don't understand why everyone else's life should be like theirs. I interpret it as they see all of Africa's rich resources and they are sending a message out to the leaders that there is no need to borrow money or accept more aid from the developed world - Africa's resources are rich and right in front of them.

It is Western mentality that every African should be poor and begging for white people to come and help them.

Kajsa Hallberg Adu said...

Thanks anon for engaging in the debate, it is not late at all - this discussion is still very necessary.

Regardless of the students' motivations behind this piece of art, do we want Africa to be synonymous with begging?

I think all of us who have engaged in this debate would like to say no.

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