Ghanaian Artist Commemorate Slave Trade By Sculpting Slave Heads

By Parker Diakite


It’s been 400 years since the Transatlantic Slave Trade and to honor the millions of people who fell victim to slavery, Ghanaian artist Kwame Akoto-Bamfo has been sculpting hundreds of faces that represent those who were stolen from their homes.

The sculptures have been placed in Ada Foah, which was a major slave market in the 19th century when the region was under British control.

Akoto-Bamfo told Africa News, “What I hope to do is to capture an experience and let this art trigger a dialogue about who we are as African people, who we were before, and where we are going.”

Using traditions from the Akan tribe,  Akoto-Bamfo created portraits of the dead with the goal of keeping Ada Foah’s history alive.

Photo courtesy of Artist and Sculpture Kwame Akoto-Bamfo

The sculptures started under the Ancestor Project, which seeks to use art and performance to empower, educated, and promote youth interest in African heritage through a group of artists, architects, designers, performers, and volunteers.

In the past,  Akoto-Bamfo would use pictures from the past to portray specific expressions and traits in his sculptures but that has since changed. He prefers to use random models so as to sculpt faces from all over Africa because people from all over the continent were enslaved.

“Over the years [I] cut down on the idealism in the work, in the narrative, and the people being portrayed,” he said.

Akoto-Bamfo said the installation is evolving and will continue to grow and expand across continents. He’s added more sculptures over the last month.

Today he is working on several new pieces for museums in Montgomery and Birmingham, Alabama in the United States. One of his pieces already stands in the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Alabama

Akoto-Bamfo believes the best way to remember the ancestors is to respect their descendants.

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Parker Diakite

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