28-year-old, Accra-based photographer Ofoe Amegavie captures the lifeblood of the city. Whether he’s shooting portraits of the area’s most fashionable denizens, documenting celebrations on Labadi beach or snapping effervescent scenes outside of perpetually open nightlife hangouts, Amegavie’s photographs re-contextualize outdated notions of the African continent.
In his latest series, he travels Ghana documenting the many tribally and regionally specific traditional festivals happening throughout the country. Though the series will be a years-long project, Amegavie provided us with some photographs he’s already compiled, and shared a bit more about how the project started and what it means to him…
Tell us a bit about your focus as a photographer…
My focus as a photographer is storytelling. I like to take photos of everyday Ghanaians and their movements around my city, Accra, though occasionally I do go out of the region to visit other parts of the country. Aside from that I also do fashion and creative art photography.
Why did you want to concentrate on traditional festivals specifically?
Last year I was on a volunteer project in Jamestown, a specific part of Accra, and it was Homowo, a traditional festival of the Ga people. I was teaching some children who allowed me into their homes to experience the festival with their families. I was lucky because one of their grandfathers was a sub-chief so I really got to take part in everything as an insider.
After that, I decided to expand the project to other parts of the country to show the diverse, rich culture of Ghana. The plan is to eventually turn it all into a photo book and host exhibition tours.
Are you planning on expanding the series outside of Ghana?
Yes, I plan to start another project that covers the major festivals across West Africa. Eventually I’ll expand into other parts of Africa. Right now it’s just a matter of getting the sponsorship to make it possible.
What do you want viewers to learn from the series?
I really want to show the beauty and heritage of my people. I want people to see how diverse we are and how beautifully we live. Festivals happen once a year in different parts of the country for different reasons, and I want people from all over the world to take part in them through my photos. Ghana is an experience, and once in a person’s lifetime they should be a part of it. Most of all, I want to show people something new.
Was access an issue? Did you have to clear taking photographs beforehand?
Yes, the project is still ongoing and having access is a bit of a hustle since the dates for the festivals are not consistent; they happen based on the traditional calendars and systems. Sometimes I have to make the trip twice or even three times to get the information and photographs I need.
What has been your favorite part of starting this series?
Well, my favorite experience so far has been the Aboakyer Festival of the Winneba people in the Central Region. I was allowed access to the shrines and the all of the customary rituals that are performed before everyone goes into the forest to catch the bushbuck for the day. It was really a new and exciting experience for me, plus my friends came to join me for the weekend which made shooting even more fun.
What have you learned from it?
I realized I need to travel more. Since starting, I’ve traveled to 9 out of the ten regions in Ghana, which has only motivated me to travel more frequently and further. I’d say I have become more of an explorer and more of a storyteller.
Where can we see more of your photos?
The project will be on a dedicated website soon. In the meantime, I share a lot of my photos on Instagram.