Ghanaian Photographer Sets Up A Million Dollar GoFundMe To Help Build Country’s First Photo Library

Ghanaian US-based photographer and an old student of Kumasi Academy, Paul Ninson is on a mission to build Ghana’s first-ever photo library, Dikan.

Dikan which means “take the lead” in the Ghanaian language, Akan, when completed will be the first library in Ghana fully dedicated to photography, media, film and visual archives, with an extensive collection of photobooks focused on Africa.

With a stock of more than 30,000 photography and film books with a special collection of photo books of Africa already, a million Dollars GoFundM account set by American author, photographer, and blogger Brandon Stanton has seen Paul receive contributions totalling over $630,000 (as of the time of filing this report).

The money when raised would be used in purchasing land in Accra – the capital of Ghana and the construction of Dikan which will house a modern library, courtyard, photo and film studios, theatre, gallery, events space, outdoor exhibition yard, archival rooms, storage, classrooms, centre for kids and teens, media centre, and offices.

Speaking with Humans of New York, Paul explained the reason for the project.

He said;

“One morning I went to photograph a protest in Queens. It was a political protest of some sort, and it was an angry crowd. I think many of the attendees were anti-immigrant. One man got right in my face, waved his poster, and started chanting: ‘Go Home, Go Home.’ In that moment it became clear to me: I do have a home. This is not my home, but I do have a home. After that day I still worked hard on my schoolwork. But most of my energy went toward building a library in Ghana. I began to speak with booksellers about my vision, and many of them became eager to help. They’d give me discounts. They’d tell their friends about me. I started getting calls from galleries and private collectors, asking if they could make a donation. Sometimes it was hundreds of books at a time. Sometimes thousands. I filled up my entire apartment with books, then I rented a storage unit. Then another. Then another. I’ve collected 30,000 books so far. Enough to build the largest photo library in Africa. The books are currently in a shipping container en route to Ghana. But as my collection has grown, so has my dream. I want to build more than just a library. I want to build an entire learning centre. A home for photography in Ghana. The centrepiece will be the library. But there will also be a lecture hall where photographers from all over the world can come and teach, African photographers, especially. Who can teach African kids to tell African stories? There will never be another Paul Ninson. Who has to leave home, and feel this way, just to learn how to tell stories. Everyone will be welcome at Dikan. There will never be someone standing at the gate. No person will be too poor, or too inexperienced, to learn how to photograph. Even young kids will be welcome. There will be a room just for them. Where they can learn to photograph. And look at National Geographic magazines. And watch videos, about animals. I’ve even chosen the name for that too. We will call it ‘Ella’s Room.'”

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