The first nation in Sub-saharan Africa to become independent, today we celebrate 53 years of Ghana's independence.
Ghanaian filmmaker, Mantse Aryeequaye, created a documentary exploring hiplife and looking at the music movement in the context of Ghanaian politics. He talks about Rhythm Rising:
"To know where the state of young urban music in Ghana is headed, you have to know where it's been. Accordingly, this film examines the history of hip hop and hiplife in Ghana, as critical cultural art forms for youth… Rhythm Rising explores the political history of hip hop music set to the tune of the Jerry Rawlings and J.A. Kufuor presidential administrtions. How has the political leadership of Ghana shaped what and who gets played?"
Brian Shimkovitz of Brooklyn, NY spent a year in Ghana to learn more about hiplife: "More than ten years ago, Ghanaian youth began to write rhymes in local languages over imported beats. At once a copy-cat culture and an indigenized national phenomenon, hiplife challenges people at all levels of society to think in new ways. I spent a year in Ghana asking questions and filming interviews and performances with hiplife artists. This is a document of my observations…" Check out his Hip Life Complex.
And for a taste of the music itself, here's Kwaw Kesse:
Young Ghanaians are exploring issues of identity, reflecting on and reshaping the spaces they inhabit using other mediums too. Full-time painter, Fatric Bewong, whose work can be seen at the top of this post, says "it’s time to ascertain new ways of expression and representing our mindscapes just like earlier generations.”
Fashion too is part of this navigation:
Good luck to the Black Stars at the World Cup tomorrow! Go Africa!
Images at top: Ato Delaquis, Wisdom Kudowor, Nanart Agyemang, George Hughes