Credit: Accradotaltradio

Asides the famous Black star, or the (almost) famous One Corner Song – Accra is a city that’s well known for its burst of young creatives and energetic millennials. If you’ve ever attended a Chale Wote Street Art Festival, the first thing you’re sure to notice is a huge warp of millennials that sit somewhere between creativity and passion – a perfect combination for a perfect picture.

From Design to fashion, to music, to radio and even art, Accra births new creative talents by the day, inspiring a whole new generation to pursue their dreams and re-imagine the impossible, regardless of structure or perception. However, certain stereotypes and misfortunes, trail this creative industry, leaving some of the talented folks, in a limbo, deciding if they actually went down the right path.

Chale Wote | Credit: Accradotaltradio

They start to ask questions like: Were my parents right? Should I have settled for a desk Job? Is this really what is going to feed me, full time?

I’ve been privileged to meet a few creatives who over the past year, have faced these challenges and yet, continue to defy the status quo. I decided to get some insights into some of these challenges and find out first hand, if some of the stereotypes are indeed true and ultimately, how to scale these challenges.

Kwame Acheampong (@OfficialKwame)

K W A M E | Credit: @OfficialKwame

Kwame is an artist, radio & TV personality, occasional actor and social media….something (he means, Influencer). He sees himself as not quite a ‘star’ but he’s also one, by extension of everything he does.

How has the journey been, being a creative in Ghana?

Kwame: My creative career in Ghana begun when I did a diploma in journalism while being a creative, directing fashion shows, as an excuse to keep me busy. Once that was done, I interned at Live FM, Joy FM and EIB’s Live FM before I eventually got called to YFM as a producer/presenter. A few months down the line I got my own show before I created what is now ‘URBAN AFRICANA’ and branched into hosting events, TV and now music.

The journey has been very haphazard. You have to seek out intelligent, experienced people within your field in order to navigate through things like “exposure”. But I feel the industry now is almost limitless. You have to just relentlessly go after what you want. If resources, platforms, audience etc. is hard to come by, Ghana sort of forces you to become creative with your approach, process and delivery. You have to create what you can’t find because then you will have a unique market.

There’s a certain nag that trails the creative Industry and it has to do with multinationals “using” creatives to produce amazing content and in turn, rewarding them with little or nothing. Is this true?

I believe this to be true. Many major organizations don’t understand or see quantifiable value in creative work, especially in Ghana. But it would be lazy and ineffective to only point fingers at multinationals and corporations.

I think part of the problem is a low sense of self-confidence, value and lesser appreciation of one’s self-worth.

Even if you are unsure, the one thing you should always be confident (not cocky) about is your own product, talent or work. If you believe that only you can do what you do the way you do it then you have to show that in how you conduct and sell your business and talent.

And no, exposure is not the devil. It depends on what you stand to gain from working for free. If the brand in question is of quality and can open you to another audience, an alternate clientele, as well as give you an excuse to practice and challenge your craft, then it certainly should be something to consider.

K W A M E | Credit: @OfficialKwame

How can Creatives in Ghana, who aren’t making enough but remain passionate, encourage themselves?

There is nothing wrong getting a “regular 9-5”, job to help pay the bills, but honestly, you have to trust the process. Look back into why it is you do what you do and remember that it is bigger than you. When you put out work, it ceases to be selfish. It is now not only yours, but an energy you have shared with the public in service of the world. It is now open to interpretation, perspective and function. So do it, the world needs it even before you know it.

How can creatives in Ghana stay relevant?

By continuing to challenge self, take a chance, finding innovative ways to insert and adapt their art or skill in fields outside of the obvious creative industries, then try and try again.

Denzel Osei (@FauxDenzel)

D E N Z E L | Credit: @fauxdenzel

Denzel is an all-around creative. He does almost anything and everything but he leans more to the fashion & Music industries. Most of his friends and colleagues are players in fashion, music and arts, hence, it’s only right that he plays that same role too. He’s also a host on the popular, Un-artiste podcast.

Your thoughts on the Creative Industry in Ghana.

It’s been a very long, slow-growing industry, and it feels even slower these days, which sucks because it almost seems like all our peers (Nigeria, I like to compare a lot) are way ahead, even though I know we don’t have the numbers. Their industry started probably smaller than Ghana’s but it grew exponentially, in just a couple of years. We’ve had the chance to get such rapid growth but the people “in charge” are not willing to see the changes and allow us to flourish.

Is there truly an “exploit culture” in Ghana’s Creative Industry?

Yes, there is. Most Ghanaian creatives don’t know their worth. They have so many people discouraging them on a daily basis that they almost think they’re not special or unique, in their own way. They take whatever these people give them because they are desperate, they can’t say no. If they don’t take it someone else will and that’s an opportunity most people can’t afford to lose.

It’s a culture that if not nipped in the bud now, the younger ones would pay deeply for.

D E N Z E L | Credit: @FauxDenzel

How can Creatives in Ghana, who aren’t making enough but remain passionate, encourage themselves?

Think bigger. Think beyond Ghana, there are bigger industries that will appreciate you and your work.

How can Creatives in Ghana stay relevant?

Social Media. Networking.

And these are just a few of the current challenges and stereotypes trailing Ghana’s budding Creative Industry. You’d be surprised at the number of people in this industry that go through an identity crisis, wondering if they’re going down the right path; hopefully, this piece gives them some clarity and the much needed Vim to forge ahead.

If you’re also a creative and would like to share your story, please reach out. Email me: [email protected] 

Christopher Opara
Writer, Coder, Tech enthusiast, Digital comms honcho, Music lover, Smooth talker, All-round fun guy - I am the Stig! Email: [email protected]

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