10 Ghanaian cultural icons

A people without culture have never existed in this world.

10 Ghanaian cultural icons

People from all walks of life have various cultural practices which make them unique from others.

The world is now a global stage where all forms of cultural practices, artefacts, clothes and many more are exhibited.

In Ghana, there are some Ghanaians who are projecting the Ghanaian culture through art, fashion, music and any other form they can.

In no particular order here are 10 of such people who can be described as Ghanaian cultural icons.

1.   Okyeame Kwame

He is one of the few Ghanaian musicians who promote the country’s culture.

Okyeame Kwame (OK) and his family often wear ‘made in Ghana’ clothes and also portray the culture of the Ashanti people where he hails from.

Invite OK to an event and there is a high possibility he will wear an African print or something from a Ghanaian company.

His music videos also portray a lot of Ghanaian cultures. Recently OK released a song titled ‘made in Ghana’ to promote Ghana’s culture and items produced in the country.

2.   Wiyaala

The Afro-Pop singer from Funsi, in the Upper West region of Ghana, calls herself "The Young Lioness of Africa".

Her name Wiyaala means “the doer” in her local Sissala dialect.

She can be described as Ghana’s leading international touring artists. Wiyaala has performed at top events and festivals all over the world, including the Commonwealth Games 2018 in Australia, WOMAD UK and the Timitar Festival in Morocco.

Wiyaala designs and sews her own unique stage costumes, which exhibits the culture of her people.

She is a committed supporter of the arts in Northern Ghana having created and organized ‘The Djimba World Music Festival’ now in its third year.

3.   Wanlov the Kubolor

He is a Ghanaian musician who promotes Ghana’s culture through his clothes and style of music.

Wanlov has walked without shoes or slippers across the globe for close to 12 years now.

He is often seen in wax prints wrapped around his waist that creates a skirt look and tee shirts. He believes his style promotes the Ghanaian wax prints which others who see him wear can purchase.

4.   Hamamat Montia

The former Miss Malaika queen is all about promoting culture and selling her products.

She grew up in a community that wasn’t rich in material things, but rich in life, love, and culture.

It is due to this reason and the cultural values she learnt that she shares through her social media platforms. She usually highlights the benefits of natural skin care products found in Ghana on her platforms.

She once said that she hopes to inspire people who grew up in a small village just like her, so they use the knowledge acquired in their villages on the global stage to promote Ghana.

She sells products which seek to combat ageing, dryness, wrinkles, and dullness of the skin which are mainly produced from coconut oil and shea butter.

5.   Ibrahim Mahama

Ibrahim the artist is not the businessman and brother of former President John Mahama, this guy is a creative person.

Mahama obtained a Masters in Fine Art in Painting and Sculpture in 2013 and a Bachelors in Fine Art in Painting in 2010 at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

His work was shown during the 56th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale in Italy themed ‘All The World’s’ Futures curated by Okwui Enwezor in 2015.

His solo shows includes: Material Effects, Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, Michigan, USA (2015) and Civil Occupation, Ellis King, Dublin (2014); Factory machines and trucks, Kumasi, Ghana (2013) and Cannon Wax, Jamestown, Accra, Ghana (2013).

He has exhibited in various locations in and around Kumasi and Accra. He has also exhibited his works in parts of Europe and America.

6.   Ablade Glover

The hugely respected Ghanaian artist Ablade Glover established the Artist Alliance Gallery, which has become one of the most important of its kind in Ghana.

At the Omanye House which hosts the gallery are three expansive floors of art displayed in cool marble galleries. Some are by established artists, such as Owusu Ankomah and George Hughes, whose paintings are reminiscent of Jean Michel Basquiat and Willem De Kooning, while others are by new and upcoming artists like Ebenezer Borlabie.

At the gallery, you will also find collectors’ pieces too: Asafo flags with appliquéd and embroidered symbols; ancient strip-woven Kente cloths by the Akan and Ewe; African masks of the type that inspired Picasso; and intricately carved furniture.

Also on show are full-sized coffins in the shapes of crabs, running shoes and eagles.

7.   Constance Swaniker

Constance Swaniker is a renowned Ghanaian sculptor making her strides in the arts and craft sector with global recognition.

After graduating from KNUST, she established Accents and Art Limited, the premier purveyor of ironmongery in Ghana and arguably, West Africa. She has received several awards, and her works can be found in a wide range of upscale homes, offices and diplomatic missions both home and abroad. Her works have been showcased in both solo and group exhibitions in Ghana, Nigeria, France, and Germany.

8.    Kwame Akoto-Bamfo

He is a Ghanaian sculptor whose outdoor sculpture is dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Transatlantic slave trade. His works were on display at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice that opened in 2018 in Montgomery, Alabama.

His other sculptures include installation of 1,200 concrete heads representing Ghana’s enslaved ancestors in Accra, the capital of Ghana.

He is spearheading the Nkyinkyim installation which is attempting to use sculptures to tell the story of African heritage. This project has been running for 6 years using sculpture as a medium. The work consists of over 1,300 pieces of sculpture that depict the capture of Africans taken to the Americas and the Caribbean the shores of Ghana.

9.   Bright Tetteh Ackwerh

Bright Tetteh Ackwerh is a Ghanaian satirical artist who uses popular art, street art, painting, and illustration to voice and documents his persuasions.

He has exhibited widely in Ghana and West Africa. In 2016, he won the Kuenyehia Prize for Contemporary Ghanaian Art.

His style is a satirical re-presentation of Ghanaian sociopolitical and religious issues in a manner that stirs conversations, sparks debate and elicits a response.

Bright has a very distinct creative process. He looks for ways to exaggerate the ideas he has and makes sure he doesn’t deviate from the basic truth.

10.    Mantse Aryeequaye

Mantse Aryeequaye together with his partner Sionne Rameah Neely makes up the Accra [dot] ALT a duo.

The duo is the organiser of Chale Wote Festival held at the historic Jamestown in Accra.

The Chale Wote Festival is a Street Art Festival that brings together art, music, design, dance and drama performance right into the streets of Ghana.

The festival serves as a sort of art and cultural exchange opportunity for Ghana and International based artists who use the opportunity to exhibit their art and get more exposure.

Chale Wote can currently be described as the biggest art festival in Ghana now.


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