NMA: The Rainbow Men at Chale Wote

Independent Ghana

Independent Ghana

Shrines, palaces and boats are no longer the sole magnets of colorful art in Ghana. Public spaces are now awash with paintings and the Nima Muhinmanchi Art (NMA) collective is leading the charge by giving emerging creatives an active role in developing urban areas of Ghana starting with Nima.

NMA is on a mission to promote urban development and entrepreneurship by bridging gaps between the arts and helping earn income from it by creating cultural ties between Nima and its youth through workshops and public painting programs. Founded by a young group of artists in 2011, the collective intends to change the negative stereotypes about their working class, Muslim community through the construction of elaborate murals. NMA teaches children and young artists using traditional forms of painting as well as contemporary methods such as graffiti.

Mural on the Kanda Highway

Mural on the Kanda Highway

Over the years, NMA has emboldened artists and the youth in Nima to beautify their homes and communities through a series of ongoing mural paintings. These paintings have brightened the Kanda Highway and spaces within Nima, such as schools, parks and KVIPs. NMA’s murals have been used in music videos by artists Samini, Okyeame Kwame and Screwface, and in commercials by a number of corporations.

NMA has also produced several paintings inspired by real life events, like the 2012 presidential elections and the June 3rd flood disaster in Accra.

Black Wednesday

Black Wednesday

NMA made their debut appearance at the first edition of the CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival in 2011 and have been a part of the annual celebration ever since. The collective is coming strong this year with a project they call Bola Bola TV.

NMA at Chale wote 2014

NMA at Chale wote 2014

The artists had this to say about their project:

You know, back in the days we had no televisions around so the only way we entertained ourselves was to get a white cloth and make cut-outs from wood, cardboard or plastic. We had no electricity so we used oil lamps known as bobo or bola bola – the local parlance for lighting. A white cloth was hung and oil lamps lit while two volunteers stood behind the cloth with the cut-outs and used that to tell a story. The audience only saw silhouettes in motion and this always happened at night.

One of the lead organizers of NMA, Musah Swallah, chimes in: “So you see, we had our own Bola Bola television before TV’s invention. That, in my opinion, is a typical example of African Electronics.”

Story by Bismark Nii Odartey

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