Peace and Strength

Derrick Ofosu Boateng, Ghana

Derrick Ofosu Boateng, Ghana

For the jury of the Global Peace Photo Award, Derrick Ofusu Boateng, who decided against becoming a doctor or a lawyer, stands for a whole generation of young African photographers who teach us not to make ourselves comfortable in our traditional ideas of Africa. And not to forget that, beyond South Sudan and Boko Haram in Nigeria and war in Yemen and corruption in Tanzania, there is another Africa whose people dream of exactly the same things as we do: the big freedom to be carefree and live in harmony.

Wow, such strong, lively colours! Such gestures! Such strength. Such self-assurance.
Such playfulness, joy, fun, craziness, creativeness!

But of course: Africa belongs with poverty, hunger, civil wars. Africa belongs with a dramatically low vaccination rate against coved. Africa is the perfect continent for catastrophes and disasters. We know that.

But would it be fair not to trust the Africans with anything? To see them collectively as victims? As problems?

Not even our “poor but happy” cliché would do them justice. There are, one should not have to mention it, many Nobel laureates, authors, artists, doctors, teachers, business people, social workers, students, male and female, in Africa, conservationists, everyday heroes, inventors, sponsors, farmers, workers, etc., who want and do and hope for the same as we do.

And there are photographers like Derrick Ofusu Boateng from Ghana. He is someone who loves Africa and its cultures. Who does not agree with our solidified image of Africa from news and films. He is someone who wants to emphatically celebrate the strength of the Africans. Their poetry.

So he set out with his mobile camera, quite simply, as he says. Of course, he composes his pictures. Uses colour generously. Wants beauty. Wants a personal victory over the everyday struggle. He celebrates play. He photographs and paints at the same time. He celebrates pride. He celebrates lightness.

It was on Instagram that he received the first encouragements for his work, which he started in 2017, inspired by the streets and weekly markets in Accra. Confirmation for an artist, not for a traditional photo reporter. But he does not need to be that to create pictures of peace. He just wants to be crazy and timeless at the same time. He wants to dream. And to make us dream. And if it takes trumpets and melon halves, so be it. And children’s poems, which he puts with his pictures. And balloons that might pop any minute but don’t.

(Text by Peter-Matthias Gaede)

Discover more: Shortlist 2021, Winners 2021