Standing out: Ghanaian creatives

man in tie selling roasted plantain near accra mall

I have been passing in and around Spanner Junction, aka Kuffour Junction, for many years. That spot is one of the busiest and most expensive spaces within the capital. Important hotels and resorts like African Regent Hotel and Villagio Luxury Apartments are located in that enclave.

The Accra Mall is only a few minutes across the road as well. Given the affluence that flows in and around the area, it is no wonder that many beggars litter the footbridge and the Mall vicinity. A few vendors and hawkers have made the place their own little markets.

Among them is a man who sells roasted plantain and nuts. Dubbed ‘Kofi Brokeman’ because of its affordability, the snack is a favourite for folk across social classes. Given the high pedestrian traffic in that area, one would assume patronage is high. But the man isn’t taking things for granted.

To stand out further, though, the man has adopted an interesting outfit. He spots a beautiful Ghana-coloured tie over a white shirt. He finishes it off with a brown hat that shields him from the sun. It is easy to notice him even if you are not ready to make any purchases. He stands out naturally, and it must draw him a tonne of clients.

In an environment where more and more people are becoming disillusioned with life in Accra, it is a beautiful sight spotting someone like him. It is a move that any creative should adopt.

It is difficult making a living out of your craft this part of the world. If folk are not stealing your work online, others are demanding that you work for free in exchange for exposure. The internet makes it very easy to go viral, but memes don’t always translate into rewards for your toil and effort.

The path toward achieving this, like the plantain seller near the Accra Mall, is to be different. It is alright to be inspired by others, but it is imperative for you to create your own brand. Create your style, so that you can carve a niche for yourself. It’s difficult…but it is not impossible.

Take Benjamin Kwashie, for example. The #DrawingWhileBlack campaign started by Annabelle allowed him to stand out. He has amazing characters in his portfolio, including Thomas Sankara, Marcus Garvey, and Bob Marley. In the sea of thousands of tweets flying through Black Twitter, his penchant for creating black historic leaders is unique, as is his choice of tool: the ball point pen. It is unbelievable, the sort of things he is able to do with just a pen. But he has done it, and the result has earned him an interview with Al Jazeera’s AJ+ team.

Watch the video on Twitter here.

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