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BBC News - Ghana photography: Capturing a new nation coming to life

By Damian Zane - BBC

Published 5 March 2023 on

Above: Photographer JK Bruce-Vanderpuije took this picture of an Accra football team in the 1920s

A decades-old photograph from Ghana's Deo Gratias studio, now in its centenary year, demands attention.

It is not one of dozens snapped in a hurry to be swiped through and then forgotten.

The photographer and the subjects clearly spent time on the composition and production. That time needs to be repaid.

One day in the 1930s a local chief fisherman holding a ceremonial oar must, along with his wife, have stepped into JK Bruce-Vanderpuije's studio in Accra, the capital of what was then known as the Gold Coast.

Asking the couple to keep still and look straight ahead, he captured their regal look - dressed in fine cloth with a symbolic crown. The couple are frozen in time but the country was undergoing big changes around them.

Three decades later colonial Gold Coast, under British rule, would become Ghana through the pressure of an independence movement that served as an inspiration to other anti-colonial struggles on the continent.

What emerges from the 50,000 images that still exist in the Deo Gratias archive is a record of a transforming society...

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