The largest photography library in Africa has opened in Ghana’s capital, Accra, showcasing the work of the continent and diaspora’s forgotten, established, and emerging talent.
Founded by Ghanaian photographer and filmmaker Paul Ninson, the Dikan Center houses more than 30,000 books he has collected. The first of its kind in Ghana, a photo studio and classrooms provide space for workshops while a fellowship program is aimed at African documentarians and visual artists. An exhibition space will host regular shows, the first of which is Ahennie, a series by the late Ghanaian documentary photographer Emmanuel Bobbie (also known as Bob Pixel), who died in 2021.
The bond-trader-turned-photographer Brandon Stanton, the author of the book Humans of New York, who kick-started the crowdfunding campaign that helped to establish the Dikan, attended the opening with Ninson, whom he met while the latter was living in New York.
As well as books of work by pioneering black photographers, such as Gordon Parks, who was the first African American photographer to have a staff position at Life magazine, and publications including National Geographic, there are rare books including one signed by Stephen Hill, who was governor of Gold Coast as Ghana was known before independence, dated 1852.
Ninson was studying at the School of the International Center of Photography in New York when he began collecting photography books.
Ninson’s vision for Dikan, which means “take the lead” in Asante, is to celebrate this rich visual history and the accomplishments of African artists, as well as offer inspiration and resources to emerging photographers.
According to theguardian