Nkrumah’s vision, Ibrahim Mahama’s mission | In a conversation with Dr. Bernard Jackson and Ibrahim Mahama

  Ibrahim Mahama to give Nkrumah Voli-ni (SILO) a new facelift

Before the fall of Nkrumah in the 1966 coup d’état, he was on a mission to building silos across the country to solve the post-harvest loss of farm produce and also improve the food security in the country.

The silos after his fall have been left to rot and some sold to businessmen at various stages of construction. No successive government have actually continued with what Nkrumah strive to do with the spaces.

One of the silos in Tamale located in Nyohani became known as the Nkrumah Volini that people tell mythical stories about. This space host reptiles, birds, fish and even humans as well. During water crisis in the city, the people go there to fetch water while other engage the space with other activities.

One man who is on a mention to rescue these abandoned spaces is Ibrahim Mahama. Though the mission is not to use it for it intended purpose but what he seeks to do with the space it to give it a community ownership where people can look at it from many dimensional view that is meant to inspire and create the next generational innovators in the community.  

In the beginning, Ibrahim Mahama intention was not to own the place but rather a permit to do an art exhibition there. The opportunity came to own the silo permanently during the Pandemic when the government decided to sell it.

For Ibrahim Mahama, owning the place is another form of labor that is also connected to freedom. With freedom he says he can choose to change or add something to the space with no limitation. This level of freedom comes because of the labour invested to acquire the space.

While still on labor, Ibrahim Mahama says his practice is about working with people to produce art that he can sell and later come back with the proceeds to put up spaces that these people in the community can have access and right to it. The idea of creating these spaces, like the Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art (SCCA), Redclay Studios and Nkrumah Volini will inspire and create more.   

Speaking to Sanatu Zambang on when he acquired the silo, Ibrahim Mahama had this to say ‘’one of the particular reason I was excited about the silo was because it is more like something which inspire you to create things and then you use part of the history and residue of it to create a work which at least bring capital and then use the capital and the spaces you have created out of it come back to the old.’’

Bernard Okai Jackson, a lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and also a performing artist says he is happy that is Ibrahim Mahama has acquired the place because to him, had it been a businessperson or capitalist, the building would have become inaccessible to the people who use to inhabit the place before the purchase and the new buyer would have destroyed the building to put up something else. 

In a demoralizing ecosystem where artistes have to swim all by themselves offshore, one person has been and is trying to change the narrative. In 2019, the Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama founded the Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art in Tamale, the capital of the Northern Region of Ghana.

Dr. Bernard Akoi-Jackson is an artist and writer interrogating hybrid post-colonial African identities, through ephemeral make-shift memorials and performative rituals of the mundane.

Dr. Bernard Jackson, who was also at the Ibrahim Mahama public lecture series inside Nkrumah secret ‘dungeon’ in Tamale on Friday engaged the audience briefly on the need to save art spaces and legacies lived behind by visionaries.

Ibrahim said he hopes to build a future from the history left behind by people who had a great vision about society. He believes our past if brought to this present day, can give us an opportunity to redirect our future to an amazing experience.

As a creative artist, Ibrahim Mahama did not leave out the fact that the way we think affects how we do things. This he said that, by his weird imaginations, he hopes to bring those abstract thoughts to life in his works.

Using critical absurdity Bernard Akoi-Jackson becomes the proverbial jester or Esu moving between genres; dance, poetry, installation, photography, and video to confront the complexities of his specific cultural moment.

Dr. Bernard’s work has been seen in Ghana, Nigeria, South-Africa, India, UK, Germany, Portugal, and the Netherlands. His writing tracks the development of contemporary Ghanaian and African visual art and culture.

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