Seams & Sounds VOL 3 - Francis Kokoroko

Francis Kokoroko's ‘The Village Market’, is a selection of music and stories from Ghana, West Africa. This playlist employs the themes of love, play, politics, and tragedy.  Featuring strictly artists of Ghanaian origin, the playlist spans smooth and soulful Kofi B, Sewor Okudzeto, and Gaffaci whilst championing Pidgin artists M3nsa and Fokn Bois - cut together with sunny highlife beats from Rex Omar, Pat Thomas, and Ebo Taylor. Francis rounds off his selections with Wanlov The Kubolor’s incredibly moving track about his relationship with his home country Ghana ‘Fokn Country’.

Road trip. December 29, 2019. Ghana. Photo: Francis Kokoroko

Ghanaian photographer Francis Kokoroko has a creative take on photojournalism, with a keen interest in documenting the ever-evolving cultures and everyday life of West Africa. We’ve witnessed first hand Francis’ vision and ability to turn a roadside chop house or passing mattress seller’s trailer, into the perfect shoot backdrop. But perhaps the most powerful of Francis’ works are those of everyday life in Accra, most recently a selection of images taken of the head porters (Kayayei) in Old Fadama, who gathered to express dismay over the government of Ghana’s failure to provide relief packages promised to them, as the coronavirus disease continues to spread in Accra, Ghana.

Kayayei, Old Fadama, Accra, Ghana. April 24, 2020. Photo: Francis Kokoroko

A: President Nana Akufo-Addo lifted Ghana’s 3-week long lockdown within Accra and Kumasi on April 19th, despite being the 3rd most affected country in Sub Saharan Africa at that point. How do you feel this lifting of restrictions was generally received by the public?

F: I presume it was received in good faith as reports of desperation within a large section of the public were highlighted. It was quite obvious our economy could not hold the lockdown any longer. I believe Ghanaians are aware of the risk at hand but I see the concerted efforts by the citizens, adhering to proposed health guidelines and the social restrictions to help slow the spread of the virus.

Kayayei, Old Fadama, Accra, Ghana. April 24, 2020. Photo: Francis Kokoroko

A: Have you still been maintaining social distancing? How have you been coping throughout this whole period?

F: Especially when I am in public spaces, I try my best to wear my mask and maintain reasonable distance. No social gatherings or hanging out for me. My routine has changed and there has been a lot of introspection.

Kayayei, Old Fadama, Accra, Ghana. April 24, 2020. Photo: Francis Kokoroko

A: Your images of the Kayayei fighting for their rights after the loss of their recent home, during probably the most testing times of their lives, were extremely powerful. This was due to the cancellation of their allowance from the government which has been cut to direct funds to frontline workers instead. Has there been any more support made available for the Kayayei that you are aware of? How are they coping now, a few weeks on?

F: These women have one wish, that the government fulfils promises touted or provide free transportation for them to get back to their families up north. I know some volunteers and NGOs have gone to provide assistance.

A : Thank you for pulling together this playlist, one that we feel shows the very strong connections you have with Ghana. Ghana’s relationship with music is one ingrained in its very nature, present wherever you go, be it walking down any street, shopping in any market or drinking in any bar - the country is constantly vibrating at its own frequency. What do you think makes Ghana’s musical identity so special? And how has it impacted your own life?

F: I used to hang out on my neighbor's porch on Saturday morning when I was about seven, simply because he had a 'sound system'. I think music is energy. Good energy that can lift up your spirit. I believe Ghanaians love music and are open to other influences. We are open to engage with stories and melodies from outside our borders. We experiment. When you listen closely, our music is a like a time capsule, recording influences and cultural encounters through the ages.

'Accra’s growing middle class.' Ghana. Francis Kokoroko

A: Where do you tend to find the music you listen to? And how has this changed over the years?

F: Back then I spent hours online to find new music. I must admit, Apple Music has been a game changer. I heard good reviews about Spotify but for some reason I am unable to subscribe from Ghana. 

 

 

Francis Kokoroko Seams and SoundsFrancis on shoot Asime 01 Collection, Anyanui, Dzita. November 2018

Francis Kokoroko Seams and Sound AsimeFrancis on shoot Asime 01 Collection, Dzita. November 2018

Francis Kokoroko Asime

Francis on shoot Asime 01 Collection, Dzita. November 2018

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