By Nii B. Andrews.
With this painting, Cornelius Annor takes us into one of the bustling marketplaces found all over Ghana.
These are economic bellwether and commercial hot spots dominated by our astute and enterprising women folk – they are primarily female dominated spaces.
Annor wastes no time in letting us know this. The colors are vibrant and almost all the discernable human figures are female – including in the background, a huge colorful funeral poster for a deceased queenly lady.
The first figure is attired in a classic brilliantly designed wax print.
Her cloth pattern references the ripples that occur when a stone is thrown into a body of water, or a bucket is dipped in to fetch water.
She, the lead lady, is wearing a warning, “Be careful how you lead your life”.
While seated with permed hair, she has on a blue black apron with what is possibly a sheet of discarded office stationery in her right hand as she gazes into the distance.
No hat for her!
The other ladies, seated in a row beside her, are also attired in bright wax prints; they are all wearing utilitarian but quite stylish wide brimmed straw hats with differing crown heights.
A statuesque lady is the only one standing and she has (in addition to her wax print outfit) a rakish, long sleeved, non collared ivory overshirt – worn unbuttoned, with her straw hat firmly perched on top of a head scarf.
Her cloth pattern appears similar to AHWENE PA N’KASA.
Translation? Good beads do not talk!
She just throws shade with her pose.
Now, the fish….loads of beautifully smoked fish – fruits of the sea or rivers – elegantly arranged in shiny wide aluminium pans in front of each lady and stretching into the distance.
Then right behind our row of ladies and a larger grouping of shoppers, we find brutalist architecture with a satellite dish poking through the rusty steel balustrade of an upper floor narrow porch.
Is this hastily copied, soulless, grey, energy inefficient, incongruous, poorly maintained cement structure from the mid 50’s to 70’s, an ominous warning of what will happen to our natural resources and ourselves if we continue unthinking down our current path of hyper-consumption?
The modern concrete behemoth appears stark and creepy as it looms over the women folk and their bounty of delicate traditionally smoked fish that look so appetizing.
How long can we keep enjoying these goodies that Providence has so graciously afforded us? Are we safeguarding our natural resources judiciously?
I certainly am no luddite, but we have been warned by the lead lady, “Be careful how you lead your life”.