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Grafitti in ghana

JULY 25, 2019

Graffiti shyly peeks out from under posters and old advertisements barely seen if you daydream while venturing through the streets of Accra. I easily miss most graffiti because of the brightly colored papers strewn on every open surface claiming their phone company is the best or their barbershop serviced Will Smith so it must be good. Painted on walls, buildings and on the backs of tro tros, I have seen some interesting quotes like, “Respect what you have,” “Think Twice,” “Jesus is the answer (not weapons)” and “Step By Step.” These short two to four words are like little motivational gems scattered all around Accra.

On the long three-hour drive back from Elmina and Cape Coast, I saw spray-painted on the side of a small house, “even war has a limit.” The simple sentence was impactful and I was unable to wrap my head around those five words. Could something like war, which seemed so destructively limitless, have a limit? I tossed this notion around in my head contemplating what periods of time in our world there was no war or conflict and came up empty-handed. There has always been war. Yet as I repeated the phrase over in my head I began to feel a sense of reassurance. Whatever struggles I am attempting to come to terms with or whatever hardships that I face, all have a limit. If something seemingly limitless like a war has a limit, my everyday obstacles must have a limit as well. That being said this is obviously just my interpretation of the artist’s work.

On my way to my internship, a wall obscured by bushes displays the phrase, “journalism is not a crime” boldly on a blue wall surrounded by portraits of men’s faces, who to non-Ghanaians appear unrecognizable. This past week, on my way to report an event, I was packed into a five-seated truck with seven other journalists. While it was hot, cramped and uncomfortable, It was interesting to hear their perspective on Ghanaian journalism as journalists themselves. I have forgotten some of the conversations, however, I remember them mentioning how they didn’t feel respected as journalists yet they believed they were necessary for the country and the community. It was a thin line they balanced as journalists. I personally have noticed in the office my coworkers are reluctant to pursue political stories and they deliberately attempt to shift the angle of a story with political connotations to be more neutral and less about politics. Ghanaian politics, similar to in the states, seems to be a tough subject to take on and I believe some journalists fear for their safety and reputation when publishing stories about politics because of the strong influence both political parties have. My coworkers furthered my understanding of the graffiti as they claimed they were just messengers of information but felt they were constricted to certain narratives in order to protect themselves. In short, the journalists were expressing how all eyes are on them, both in a good and potentially bad way.


Interestingly enough, despite the issue of trash disposal in Ghana, I have seen a lot of graffiti and advertisements about keeping Ghana clean and improving proper trash disposal. For example on my way to work I have seen multiple signs that say, “keep Ghana clean,” or “#GhanaGoesGreen.” The issue of trash affects the whole community, yet is a difficult subject to tackle as there are no apparent solutions to the problem. I have read multiple articles in the newspaper about how trash disposal is becoming an issue that they can no longer ignore. Ghanaians are aware of the problem but don’t know how to go about creating change. That being said I have seen these signs and seen a few trash disposal bins so it appears they are moving in the right direction. Despite it seeming ironic to have a “keep Ghana clean” sign graffitied to a wall surrounded by litter and garbage, It appears to have started invoking change through awareness in the community. When talking to my coworkers about the issue they mentioned it is on the community as well as the government to make change happen. Without the government to implement a system and a place of disposal for the trash, individuals in the community cannot move forward and vice versa; the government needs the community to work with them after the systems are put into place. Nonetheless, my coworkers noticed and talked in-depth about how both the government and the community are stuck waiting for the other and need to work together.

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