Ghanaian photographer, curator and founder of the Dikan Center, Paul Ninson has gained international recognition for his impactful work in visual education and activism.
Recently featured on CNN Africa as an African Voice Change Maker, Ninson’s story and his team’s efforts to build a transformative visual education organization took centre stage.
From his humble beginnings as a photographer to becoming an activist and problem solver, Ninson’s journey exemplifies the power of visual storytelling to bring about positive change in Africa.
He shared the experience on his Facebook, “Being featured on CNN Africa as an African Voice Change Maker is a truly humbling experience. As a photographer, curator, and Chief Servant of Dikan Center, my story and work with my team to build an impactful visual education organization took center stage. I firmly believe in the power of visual education to transform Africa” Pau, the founder and executive director of the Dikan Center said on Facebook”
From Photographer to Activist:
Ninson’s aspirations went beyond being just a photographer; he aimed to be an agent of change. In the CNN interview, he shared the importance of activism and problem-solving in his work.
“I didn’t want to be just a photographer, I wanted to be more, you have to be an activist, you have to be a problem solver,” he said “I am building an ecosystem not just facility, we are building people”
Recognizing the untapped potential of his craft, he sold his iPhone to purchase a camera and began photographing random people, delving into their stories and experiences which was also how he taught himself photography.
His passion for documenting the lives of individuals and communities became the foundation for his future endeavours.
“I sold my iPhone to get a camera and I was going around photographing random people and finding out if they’ll be interested in sharing their story but there were gatekeepers and it was 100 per cent frustration.
A Breakthrough Moment:
Paul Ninson’s breakthrough came when renowned bond-trader-turned-photographer Brandon Stanton, author of the critically acclaimed book “Humans of New York,” sponsored Ninson’s education at the School of International Center of Photography in New York.
“My going to school in U.S was full grace, I had partial scholarships but If you asked me for $30,000 right but luckily I met a wonderful brother friend, Brandon of Humans of New York who helped me,” he disclosed
Stanton’s support did not only provide him with the means to pursue his studies but also Stanton, would later play a vital role in the establishment of the Dikan Center through a crowdfunding campaign.
Dikan Center: A Hub for African Photography:
Ninson’s vision culminated in the creation of the Dikan Center, a pioneering photography library in Accra, Ghana’s capital.
The centre located in South Labadi houses an impressive collection of over 30,000 books, showcasing the forgotten, established, and emerging talents of the African continent and its diaspora.
The facility features a photo studio, classrooms for workshops, and an exhibition space that will host regular shows.
The Dikan Center also includes a fellowship program designed to support African documentarians and visual artists. Through this initiative, Paul Ninson aims to nurture and empower talented individuals who are passionate about capturing and sharing stories from their communities.
Honouring a Photography Genius:
Emmanuel Bobbie, also known as Bob Pixel, was a celebrated Ghanaian documentary photographer who sadly passed away in 2021.
The Dikan Center paid tribute to his legacy by hosting the first exhibition, titled “Ahennie,” showcasing his remarkable work.
This inaugural show set the stage for future exhibitions that will celebrate the diverse voices and perspectives within the African visual arts community.