There’s no denying the fact: this world is a largely patriarchal one in all regards. And so, of course, this particular space which we inhabit – Ghana, art – is only a microcosm of the larger world. Thus, as with patriarchy, it is naturally going to be hostile – in varying degrees and ways – to women. Be that as it may, women are creating; just as women have created in the past and will continue to create in the future.
On this occasion of International Women’s Day, yoyo tinz asked some women in the Ghanaian art scene to share their sentiments on “women and art in Ghana.”
Read their submissions below:
I can honestly say that it has been an on going discussion and a recurrent question among yoyo tinz members :”Where are the women hip hop artists?” unfortunately we haven’t really been able to find the answer. The Ghanaian hip hop culture is a reflection of the Ghanaian art scene in general, but maybe even more exacerbated as hip hop is still misunderstood and marginalized. Interestingly, when i think about Ghanaian female artists in general, I can only remember works that really amazed me. I tend to believe that when you have so few opportunities to express yourself and to show your work, you cannot afford to be average. When no-one wants to hear you or to check what you do, when you get access to a platform you just have be the best, and be sure no-one can deny your talent. I like what women in arts in Ghana are doing so far, and i am hoping that more women will come. The pioneers have paved the way and we can only expect more great things to come!
[Essenam Deblos is also Cultural coordinator at Alliance Française, Lagos. Prior to that, she occupied the same position at Alliance Française, Accra – for three years.]
The Ghanaian cultural scene in general has been getting a lot of attention lately with artistes consistently producing brilliant work. Even though women are still very much underrepresented, we have become aggressive and are coming out and showcasing more of our art. I think for us, it is very important to connect with each other(other women) and push ourselves to tell our own stories.
[Josephine Kuuire‘s last exhibition, titled “Second Chance” was hosted by Accra [Dot] Alt last April. She talk about it – and also about her artistry – in this interview with CCTV News.]
When people exalt me as one of the top female poets in Accra or Ghana, I am thrown into conflict. Am I a good artist by the standards of artistry, or a good artist by the standards of gender? I know a young male spoken word artist who has one poem that exalts a multitude of fellow spoken word artists through amusing wordplay. Every single poet mentioned in his poem is male. Sometime way after this poem of his was released, he asked me to collaborate with him on a poem, where he was to be a man looking for the girl of his dreams and I was to play the part of his girl. Thank God this collaboration never happened. I wonder if he ever asked himself why I became unresponsive. I wonder if he ever asked himself why the best use he could find for a female spoken word artist was a categorizable role that most likely played into stereotypes designed to “amuse”. And believe me, society is wildly amused by sexism. The Ghanaian woman is underrated, in history, in politics, in art. But for the same reason I am exhausted that some people only see uses for poets almost solely on Independence Day or AU Day, I reject the idea of female artists only being hailed to use their art to play into roles that classically fit into tiny boxes of “femininity”. This is reduction. I insist we resist reduction. I am not necessarily saying we must use our artistry as women to be activists; I am saying we must use our artistry as women to be human beings. And in a world that keeps trying to reduce us to something below human, this is the greatest activist endeavor we can undertake.
Despite the role women play in the growth of art, art in Ghana is still widely male dominated. I believe in a full rounded point of view, from both genders- diverse perspectives. Ask a random person to list artists in any field in Ghana and they cannot list as many female artists as they can for male artists. Lack of exposure, visibility and opportunities are be contributing factors. However the women making art in Ghana are firmly taking control of their narratives and making huge impact. How much more when there are more women? I’m excited about our generation. I’m excited about a bunch of us who are unrelenting in our quest to create what we want with what we have.