Photography by Kamau Wainaina

ArtRace

No more poverty porn: these Ghana school children will give you life

June 19, 2018
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By Kamau Wainaina*, AFROPUNK contributor

 

For a week in January, I traveled to Ghana to film a documentary for Global Youth Fit, a  non-profit fitness project that conducted workshops with children at the Harlem International school on Asofan Hilltop in greater Accra. In between filming, I had the chance to talk to, get to know and photograph many of the children running around and playing while the workshops took place. Their energy and charisma electrified the entire area – each of them bringing a unique light a color to space, eager to jump in front of the lens and have their portrait taken. Being on the playground surrounded by so much unfiltered creativity and enthusiasm was so warming – the kindness and brilliance of each kid I met were only surpassed by their humility and honesty when speaking to me or simply jumping in front of the lens. A lot of these children face daily struggles due to their socioeconomic background that makes their lives a lot more difficult than the average school child – ranging from walking hours to-and-from school to help support their families at such a young age. These issues, while crucial to acknowledge, do not [and should not] characterize their existences or limit their potential and ambition. Thus I find it poignant that they’re here is framed in an educational environment that still allows them to flourish in their innocence. A place of empowerment that refutes the stereotypical visual encasing of despair and stagnancy that African children are too often limited to when photographed or portrayed. “Playground” should here serve as a small glimpse into the complex and vibrant personalities of these champions of break-time. A moment for them to exist as they are and flourish, uninhibited, in the sunlight.




*Kamau Wainaina is a Kenyan multidisciplinary artist based in New York City, specializing in Film & Photography. Born in (1997), Wainaina has since lived and attended school in England and the Netherlands before attending NYU Tisch’s Kanbar Institute of Film & Television where he is currently a Junior. Given his sporadic upbringing, much of Wainaina’s work has a particular focus on third-culture identity and blackness – specifically its malleability and relativity depending on the environment both familial and societal.  

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