Ghanaian Sculptor Catches Global Attention …. With 1,300 Slave Heads

Kwame Akoto Bamfo 

Versatile artist Kwame Akoto Bamfo is receiving applauds around the world for sculpturing some 1,300 pieces of heads that collectively represent the multitude of West Africans who were captured and taken to the Americas and Caribbean during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

The sculptures which are from his ‘Nkyinkyim Installation’ recall Africa’s past from pre-history to the present day and are, among other objectives, to prompt today’s African youth to appreciate the struggles of the past.

He told NEWS-ONE’s Francis Addo that it took him over four years to put together the pieces.

Currently, sculpturing in Ghana is considered an emerging market with great prospects even though it is not getting that over-the-top media attention. There are more youth with keen interest to earn a living from sculpturing.

“It took me about four and half years to make these heads. And I also did a lot of research to come out with this work. It is a day and night thing for four years,” Kwame said about the time he spent on working on the sculptures.

“I do other art works aside this but this particular one is meaningful to me because I want leave to something for the next generation. So if you go through my portfolio you will see so many art works I do,” he added.

The pieces are currently being exhibited at one of the largest exhibition of its kind under the theme: ‘In Memoriam; Portraits of the Middle Passage in Situat the Cape Cost Castle’ as part of Ghana at 60 celebrations.

The exhibition was installed at Cape Coast Castle from June 17 and it would be there till next month August 19, 2017.

The sculptures have been placed   in   situ, facing   the   Atlantic   Ocean.

The exhibition’s opening ceremony month back featured musical performances by Daniel Dunson, Veronica Bain, Afro Maestros Orchestra and poetry by Hakeem Adam and others.

There was also an African heritage dinner immediately after the viewing of the exhibition to raise funds for Kwame’s project to put up a park in Ada to help people experience sculpturing.

According to Kwame, he is inspired by literatures on some of the thing which occurred during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

“The whole inspiration came from me wanting to know myself more as an African or Ghanaian and every time I go online or pick a book to read, the middle passage of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade will pop its head out of the pages,” he stated.

Kwame is a master’s degree holder in Fine Art and a BFA (Sculpture) from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

He is not only into sculpturing but fashion, painting, among other arts forms in the creative business. He won the 2015 Kuenyehia Prize instituted for contemporary Ghanaian Art.

He was a full time lecturer at one of Ghana’s premier universities but he quit to give full attention to his creative business.

Currently, he is one of the best sculptors the country can boast of.

However, he thinks artistry is taken for granted in Ghana. To him, not major attention is given to the industry, especially by the media.

And one of his reasons was that, “we still have a negative connotation, especially towards sculpture, due to a legacy we got from slave trade. For example, anything carved from Italy is appreciated but if it is done in Ghana, it is seen as fetish. And for a Ghanaian artist to sell, it means you have to go outside of the country to make it big before Ghana will celebrate you.”

“I have done a lot but I don’t feel the acceptance. I hope my new installation will get the necessary push,”he added.

By Francis Addo (Twitter: @fdee500 Email: )