Local Ghanian photographer Jessica Sarkodie spent several years in studying abroad in New York and went home to with the intention to pursue real estate. But the gravitational pull to her first love of photography was so strong that she embarked on a freelance photography career and never looked back. Here is her insider’s guide to Accra, the capital of Ghana, where she captured the vibrant, pulsing neighbourhoods of her home with The Together Project.
In Jamestown we really liked this mans outfit and so happily he posed for a photo and gave a peace sign. The print is a wax print he dons is very common here. We have a tradition of making our own clothes, we don’t have these large mass produced clothing stores so a lot of people, especially for special events, generally have their outfits tailor made - it's a good representation of Ghanian ingenuity.
A stack of crates at Somewhere Nice - the hostel where the TTP team stayed during their visit. These bottles which carry soft drinks or beer are recycled.
“We don’t have this culture of people only living in a neighbourhood with people of similar wealth. High and low income groups live side by side. It's a very community feel - you walk down the street and everyone says hello, everyone is so friendly and people look out for each other.”
Some schoolgirls came by and saw the team with the camera they wanted us to take photos of them. This is actually the school where my mother used to teach. They all have their hair cut very low, typically in the local public schools they have a policy where you have to be over 15 to grow your hair. I believe it’s so that everyone can have a uniform look.
For some parents, the short hair look is ideal because it can be a bit costly as black hair generally requires a lot more maintenance. So for lower income parents, I imagine it’s convenient that they don’t have to spend the extra money for daughters to go the salon.
If you leave Jamestown, go further East and stay on the coast, you get to this area called Labadi. Labadi is middle class with parts of lower class and people who just live in shacks. A lot of people here live in small houses, short walls and gates, typically a bright orange yellow or peach.
Timber Market. The name says it all. This is where people sell and buy wood in Accra. These images are of vendors standing in front of their stock.
We have a tradition of making our own clothes, we don’t have these large mass produced clothing stores so a lot of people, especially for special events, generally have their outfits tailor made – it’s a good representation of Ghanian ingenuity.
Towards central Accra there’s a building called Palladium, so everyone calls the area Palladium. All the buildings are really old and have been reconstructed in little ways, but remain largely original.
If you look at images of Accra from the 1950s or 60s they're full of patrons sitting by the side on the road outside 'spots' which is what we call outdoor bars. People sit casually outside by the road and watch all the traffic buzzing past. This is a very typical Ghanaian bar in that sense.
These are kenkey husks, a dish in Ghana basically made from fermented soft cooked corn. It goes well with this black spicy sauce called 'shito'.
Corn husks in the streets of Jamestown.
This was an eccentric man sitting out on the street on an armchair in Osu. Osu is now full of trendy bars, restaurants and newly built apartments aimed at expats and rich Ghanaians. Back in the day these areas were more middle income so it's nice to see it's retained some of this character.
Two young girls we ran into the streets of Osu heading towards a funeral, sporting the traditional red and black colour combo you’ll find at funerals here.
A boxer training in the outdoors in Jamestown.
Ghana is well known for boxing throughout the world. This is the outside of a boxing gym in Jamestown, the birthplace of this boxing tradition.
Kokomlemle is very middle-low class and it’s very close to Nima. The President actually lives in Nima, we don’t have this culture of people only live around people of similar wealth. High and low income groups live in the same suburb. It's an open neighbourhood in that people don’t have a lot of space - they have family space and their extended families live all together in the same homes. It's a very community feel. You walk down the street and everyone says hello, everyone is so friendly and people look out for each other.
A passerby in Palladium, central Accra.
We loved this guy’s colourful outfit and asked to photograph him. In Osu.
Men playing a card game in Jamestown.
Men playing LUDO, a popular Ghanaian board game, in Jamestown.
Loved this girl’s hairstyle and fashion. In Jamestown.
Noticing fun fashion trends in Jamestown.
Old colourful colonial buildings in Palladium.
Jamestown has a huge fishing village. Fishing and selling fish is a huge source of income for many. It’s thus unsurprising to see grilled fish (which goes very well with kenkey by the way) as you walk throughout Jamestown