Africa refocused: images of Ghana

Compiled by Mary Alexander

Popular images of Africa tend to be of two types: beautiful landscapes and exotic wildlife, or distressing poverty, disease and suffering. But Africa is not a country, easily reduced to stereotypes. It’s a vast, diverse continent with 54 separate countries, well over a thousand languages and a range of cultures, histories and religions. People live, work, love and raise families here, just like anywhere else.

In the first in a series of photo galleries refocusing the image of African countries, we look at the West African nation of Ghana, on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of some 27-million, Ghana is rated the seventh-best governed and fifth-most stable country in Africa, with the continent’s sixth-largest economy.

01-teacher
Maths teacher Winston Mills-Compton explains a concept to his class at the Mfantsipim Boys School in the coastal city of Cape Coast. Founded in 1876, the school is one of the oldest in the city, which is the academic centre of Ghana. Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan was a student at Mfantsipim. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst, World Bank)

02-Nkrumah-mausoleum
The mausoleum of Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of post-colonial Ghana, in the capital city of Accra. From 1951 Nkrumah served as the leader of the Gold Coast, the colonial name for the country, oversaw independence from Britain in 1957, and was president of the newly free country until 1966. Ghana was the first sub-Saharan African country to achieve independence from colonial rule. Nkrumah was an influential activist for Pan-Africanism, and a founding member of the Organisation of African Unity. (Photo: Walter Callens, Retlaw Snellac Photography)

03-young-girl
A young woman in front of the Black Star Monument in Independence Square, Accra. The second-largest city square in the world after Tiananmen Square in China, Independence Square was commissioned by Kwame Nkrumah to honour both the country’s independence in 1957 and a visit to Ghana by British Queen Elizabeth II. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst)

04-shopowner-delivery
A female shopkeeper takes delivery of goods in Accra. Wholesale and retail trade is one of the most common forms of self-employment for women in Ghana’s cities. (Photo: Arne Hoel, The World Bank)

05-shop
A woman works in a small shop in Accra. Women make up 43.1% of economically active population of Ghana, most working in the informal sector and in food crop farming. (Photo: Arne Hoel)

08-baby2
A baby lies on a bed protected with a mosquito net, which helps prevent the spread of malaria. Ghana’s attempts to control the disease, a major cause of poverty and low productivity, began in the 1950s. The country’s Roll Back Malaria initiative was launched in 1999. (Photo: Arne Hoel)

09-boxing3
Young boys train in a boxing club in the Jamestown neighbourhood in eastern Accra. Jamestown and bordering Usshertown are the oldest districts in the city, today home to a fishing community made up largely of the Ga linguistic group. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst)

10-boxing
Young boys train in a boxing club in the Jamestown neighbourhood of Accra. Boxing is Accra’s citywide obsession, and Jamestown the centre of the sport. There are more boxing schools per square mile in Jamestown than anywhere else on earth. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst)

11-boxing4
Young boys train in a boxing club in the Jamestown neighbourhood of Accra. Internationally renowned boxers such as Professor Azuma Nelson and Joshua Clottey learned to fight in one of the over 20 boxing clubs in the neighbourhood. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst)

12-boxing2
A young boxer and his trainer at a boxing school in the Jamestown neighbourhood of Accra. The trainer’s shirt bears the image of George “Red Tiger” Ashie, an Accra-born international professional fighter who won the African Boxing Union super featherweight title, Universal Boxing Council super featherweight title, and Commonwealth lightweight title. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst)

06-student
A student solves a problem in maths class at the Mfantsipim Boys School, one of Ghana’s oldest and best-performing schools, in the city of Cape Coast. The educational centre of Ghana, Cape Coast is home to the University of Ghana, the country’s leading university in teaching and research, as well as Cape Coast Polytechnic, Wesley Girls’ High School, St Augustine College, Adisadel College, Aggrey Memorial Senior High School and Ghana National College. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst)

14-walking
A Ghanaian girl walking to school. (Photo: Arne Hoel)

15-billboard
A billboard advertising mobile phones flanks a cellphone tower in Accra. Ghana is the second-biggest ICT destination in Africa, after South Africa. Mobile phone penetration stands at 27-million, bigger than the national population. A 780-kilometre fibre optic cable is currently being laid across the country. (Photo: Arne Hoel)

16-college
The grounds of the University of Ghana in the city of Gold Coast, with the entrance to the Balme Library in the distance. The oldest and largest Ghana’s 13 universities and tertiary institutions, it was founded in 1948 as the University College of the Gold Coast. It was originally an affiliate college of the University of London, which supervised its academic programmes and awarded degrees. In 1961 it gained full university status and, today, has some 40 000 students. (Photo: Arne Hoel)

17-port
The cargo terminal of the port at the city of Tema in southeastern Ghana, on the Gulf of Guinea. Tema harbour is a major export link for goods from land-locked countries to the north of Ghana, such as Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst)

18-port-mechanic
A truck mechanic at the cargo terminal in the port of Tema. The port handles 80% of Ghana’s national exports and imports, including the bulk of the country’s major export product, cocoa. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst)

19-cruise
Relaxing on a four-hour Sunday pleasure cruise on the MV Dodi Princess on Lake Volta, the largest manmade water reservoir by surface area – some 8 502 square kilometres – in the world. Attractions on the Dodi Princess include a highlife band, a wading pool, lunch and an air-conditioned cabin for refuge from the sun. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst)

20-elmina
Traditional Ghanaian fishing boats set out from the ancient settlement of Elmina, once part of a colony Portuguese sea traders built on the coast of Ghana in 1482. Before the Portuguese, the town was called Anomansah, meaning “the perpetual drink”. Elmina was the first European settlement in West Africa, the site of the Africa’s first European colonial war – between Spain and Portugal in 1478 – and for centuries the launch point of the Transatlantic slave trade from West Africa. (Photo: Walter Callens, Retlaw Snellac Photography)

21-ships
Hulls of ships docked at Tema Harbour on the southeastern coast of Ghana. (Photo: Curt Carnemark, World Bank)

22-boat
Boys play on a pirogue, a traditional fishing boat, on a beach in coastal Ghana. Pirogue boats are found all over the world, from Louisiana to Madagascar, but Ghana’s handmade dugouts are possibly the most ornate – carved with motifs, painted in bright colours, and often captioned with biblical quotes and smart sayings. Artisanal fishing in pirogues contributes a great deal to Ghana’s informal economy. (Ghana. Photo: Arne Hoel)

23-cocao-beans-1
A technician supervises the processing of cocoa beans into cocoa liquor at the Golden Tree chocolate plant in the port city of Tema. Cocoa – raw and processed – is Ghana’s main export, even though the cocoa plant is not indigenous to the country. The Golden Tree company produces high-quality cocoa products, including chocolate bars that will not melt in the West African heat. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst)

24-control-room
The control room at the Takoradi thermal power station in Aboadze, 17 kilometres east of the city of Sekondi-Takoradi on the southwestern coast of Ghana. The country generates electricity from hydropower, fossil fuels, thermal energy and renewable energy sources. Ghana’s power generation infrastructure is so developed it is able to not only meet local needs, but export electricity to neighbouring countries. The country is also committed to carbon-free, renewable energy. A $400-million project to build the largest solar power plant in Africa is likely to go online in 2015. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst)

25-ghana-stock-exchange-2
Traders work on the floor of the Ghana Stock Exchange in Accra. The exchange, established in 1990, is one of the best-performing in Africa. Its composite index rose by 78.8% in 2013. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst)

26-ghana-stock-exhange
A trader working the Ghana Stock Exchange in the financial district of Accra. The exchange has 37 listed companies, who saw a 55% increase in value, in US dollar terms, in 2013. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst)

27-construction-worker
A worker mixes concrete for maintenance of the N1 national road between Accra, the capital of Ghana, and Gold Coast, the country’s centre of education. Roads and highways, the country’s main transport systems, are constantly being upgraded. In 2012 some US$500-million was spent on expanding Ghana’s road network. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst)

28-glasses
The clock tower of Balme Library reflected in the sunglasses of a student at the University of Ghana in the city of Gold Coast. (Photo: Arne Hoel)

29-mineworker
A worker feeling the heat at 330 metres underground at the Anglo Ashanti gold mine in Obuasi. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst)

30-lumber-yard
Workers sprayed with sawdust at a lumber factory in Accra. (Photo: Curt Carnemark)

31-man-and-child
A young Ghanaian man holding a child. (Photo: Arne Hoel)

32-girl
A child of Ghana. (Photo: Arne Hoel)

33-lunchtime
Ghanaian girls eat a school-sponsored lunch. (Photo: Arne Hoe)

34-city
A woman walks through the streets of Accra, Ghana’s capital and major city. (Photo: Arne Hoel)

35-small-business-owner
A woman entrepreneur outside her business. (Photo: Arne Hoel)

36-primary-school
Morning assembly at a rural primary school in Ghana. (Photo: Arne Hoel)

39-parliament2
A news camera captures proceedings at Ghana’s parliament in Accra. As a former British colony, the country’s lawmaking process is based on the UK parliamentary system. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst)

40-newsroom
The newsroom at the Joy FM radio studios in Accra. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst)

41-newsroom-studio
On air at the Joy FM studios in Accra. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst)

42-radio
A radio technician at work. (Photo: Arne Hoel)

43-reflection
People’s reflections in a water tank in rural Ghana. (Photo: Arne Hoel)

44-pineapple-seeds
Pineapple seedlings being planted in the nursery at Bomart Farms in Nsawam, near Accra. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst)

45-kente-cloth
Traditional Kente cloth on sale at a market in Kumasi, the centre of the Ashanti region of southern Ghana. (Photo: Adam Jones)

07-aircraft
Air Ghana aircraft on runway at Kotoka International Airport in Accra. The carrier provides cargo and passenger services throughout West and Central Africa. (Photo: Arne Hoel)

13-city-centre
Buildings in Accra’s financial district. (Photo: JB Dodane, Flickr)