Artist as Activist for Social Justice
Art has long been used as a response to injustices, to tell the stories of personal and social challenges, and to rally communities and inspire change. I had the pleasure of speaking to Abdul-Lahie Abdul-Rahim Naa earlier this year about how he uses his art to inspire his community. Naa Ninche, as he is commonly known, is currently a student at the Ghana Institute of Journalism and a professional photographer. We discussed his style of art, inspiration, methods of storytelling, and how he uses these talents to bring awareness to developmental issues in his community.
Naa Ninche’s photography is characterized by vivid colors, warmth, and joy in contexts that appear to be filled with despair. “I love to tell stories of how people can make it in life despite the struggles they go through,” he says. “I try to capture moments when individuals are struggling and showing how they are determined to be great.” This is something Naa knows well. Like many of Ghana’s young people, he and his family have grappled with financial challenges that have caused distress and hindered his opportunity to pursue his education. After being forced to abandon his education twice, his situation finally stabilized last year, and he was finally able to pursue his university degree full time. He credits his perseverance during this period to those in his community who gave him hope that even in the midst of his hardship, he would eventually succeed in the pursuit of his goal.
This optimism and heart for people shines through in the imagery Naa creates. “I feel photography goes beyond the art of just taking pictures. It goes beyond just getting the right camera angle, the right aperture, and perfect temperature. It is about how to capture moments such that, just by looking at it, one is able to explain the picture and feel the moment that was captured without distorting the facts that are represented… I do anything to get this result, even if it means making myself uncomfortable to get this shot.”
Currently, Naa Ninche works as a local reporter, photographer, and videographer. He also writes and publishes work on varying community and societal issues. On his self-published blog, he aims to motive the youth of his community to aspire for the best and challenge the status quo. His slogan is “Finding Inspirations in Our Difficulty”. You can read more at www.naninche.wordpress.com.