By Marisa Schwartz
Ghana is a place where centuries of tradition smash into modernity head on. I’d like to say the two blend seamlessly together, but they don’t. They engage and clash against each other taking on a completely unique, functional-yet-chaotic, combination. Paramount chiefs use iPhones, pastors drive BMWs, and you can purchase anything from herbal medicine to television antennas to toilet paper in traffic.
This is a place where neighborhood streets are lined with shacks and mansions right next to each other. Shopping malls, fashion boutiques, and electronic shops are springing up all over the place but that kind mask the true essence of the place and its people. The most refined, contemporary international business men frequent traditional priests (“witch doctors”) to secure their success. Democratic politicians spend a lot of time talking and taking bribes while traditional chiefs settle real disputes in communities.
But the superficiality of the 21st century doesn’t corrupt the real people of Ghana. They are warm-hearted, welcoming, and intuitively curious about the world around them. Ghana is a beautiful place, a model for Africa, which of course has its own issues (evident to anybody that has been to the Tax Registration Authority). I sometimes think that it would be so much more successful without the pretense of global culture and full acceptance of striking, traditional culture that just won’t let itself be suppressed.
White for victory. Supporters celebrate the closely contested 2012 Presidential election in which John Mahama beat Nana Akufo-Addo.
About the Photographer: Marisa Schwartz, Ghana.
Marisa Schwartz is a photographer and media journalist from the United States. She graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York City and has previously worked for renowned National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry.
Marisa has a passion for traveling, experiencing new cultures, and sharing stories. She recently moved to Accra, Ghana and co-founded Loud Silence Media, an innovative new-media journalism platform for storytelling.