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James Barnor.

Press Conference Marks the Opening of James Barnor 95 Festival

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Today, the historic Ghana Club in Accra hosted the press conference for the James Barnor 95 Festival. This month-long celebration, running from May 29th to June 29th, honors the prolific career and 95th birthday of James Barnor, an iconic Ghanaian photographer renowned for his work documenting Ghana’s history during its early days of independence and as the personal photographer of Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president.

The Ghana Club, a place rich in history and culture, was a fitting venue for this significant event. In Ghana’s early days of independence, the club was frequented by prominent figures, including Nkrumah himself. Today, there are many Ghanaians who are unaware of the historic significance of this building. Holding the press conference and photo exhibition there was an opportunity to showcase such an iconic building.  Barnor even recalled coming to the Ghana Club with the likes of highlife musicians, politicians and other important figures frequented this place. “As I walked into the building I remembered…this is the place! I remember the day E.T. Mensah was playing here,” he said.

The atmosphere at the press conference was filled with anticipation and reverence for Barnor’s legacy. James Barnor, who has documented significant historical moments and personalities through his lens, shared some of his experiences and the love he holds for photography. He reminisced about his early days capturing pivotal moments in Ghanaian history and spoke of his personal connection to many of his photos. Barnor’s stories brought to life the richness of Ghana’s past, highlighting his unique ability to immortalize the essence of an era through his photographs.

Barnor, whose birthday is 6th June, 1929, told the press, “I use my birthday as an excuse to exhibit my work, always. It’s not just a birthday, but it’s to provide an occasion where Ghanaians will be involved in my work. I’m lucky to have passed 90…we are showing everything by putting extra things in [the event] to make it a festival and not just an exhibition or just a birthday.”

The photo exhibition at the Ghana Club features 35 works from Barnor’s extensive portfolio. These pieces, part of a collection owned by Ghanaian music producer Myx Quest, were first showcased in Ghana in November 2018 at the Jamestown Café during the visit of the former Prince of Wales to Accra. The exhibition provides a comprehensive overview of Barnor’s career, capturing moments of Ghana’s journey from colonial rule to independence and beyond. “I’m not the only photographer from Ghana,” Barnor acknowledged, “ There were photographers before me, luckily I come from a big family of photographers.”  With that he also said how grateful he is to have had a successful career as a photographer. 

The exhibition at the Ghana Club will be open to the public until June 30th, offering visitors a chance to enjoy Barnor’s work. The festival will also feature various events and activities in both Accra and Tamale, celebrating the photographer’s enduring influence and his contributions to the art world.

The James Barnor 95 Festival promises to be an enriching celebration, honoring a man whose vision and artistry have left a mark on Ghana and the world. For more information about the festival and a schedule of events, email [email protected].

Ivy Prosper

Digital Creator, Writer, Producer, Speaker