By Caleb Odartey/Antique Lemonade Art Space
The location for this photograph is the Old Kingsway building in Jamestown, Accra. It was the first modern shopping center in Ghana and belonged to the United Africa Company (UAC). The name Kingsway originated from its original owners, Miller-Swanzy, who began to open stores throughout British West Africa.
In 1954 there was a shift when British businesses began to understand their African customers better and thus, there was a huge effort to promote goodwill. The shopping center eventually became a retail space patronized by different social groups.
The old Kingsway building, still showing vestiges of its former colosseum-style architectural glory, is now largely a community space for street football games, art shows and festivals.
Our subject, a model and student of fashion, is positioned at one of the entrances of the old building. She’s wearing an heirloom kente piece originally for a man but transformed into an ensemble bearing some semblance to an English ball gown.
In traditional Ghanaian culture, the colour white represents, amongst other things, celebration.
Her necklace is a combination of heirloom trade beads belonging to my mother Mrs Josephine Andoh, who purchased the building from the U.A.C. The necklace also has costume pieces sourced from Kantamanto, a busy trade area were costume jewelry from British fashion retail shops such as Topshop, River Island amongst others can be sourced. The old trade beads represent currency and the colours reflect that of the Union Jack as a symbol of the business relationship between the UK and Ghana. Despite the old beads, the design is contemporary and can be worn with either a western dress or traditional wear.
The choice of a female subject represents the important role women have and continue to play in both Ghanaian and British business and society over the years and now inspiring a modern crop of young, energetic women entrepreneurs.
The subject also represents the youth and the future. A future of hope. The privilege of living in a modern world that affords easier access to knowledge, information and business opportunities.
Indeed the future belongs to Africa. Everything must change.