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ANCIENT FAITH A photo of one of West Africa's oldest mosques on display at the exhibition at IHC
ANCIENT FAITH A photo of one of West Africa's oldest mosques on display at the exhibition at IHC

Bishwadeep Moitra tries to break stereotypes

The idea of the continent is not the continent, proves Bishwadeep Moitra in his photo exhibition "Images of Ghana". Running till this Monday, 17 photos of Ghana have been mounted at the India Habitat Centre. A photographer by hobby, Moitra, also Executive Editor of Outlook, took the photos in December 2005, when he visited Ghana for three weeks on the invitation of a friend. The films have been shot with transparency film. While some are as large as 7feet by 5feet, others are as small as 2feet by 1 and 1/2feet. The photos create an image of an idyllic pastoral setting. It is blue skies, dirt roads and mud houses. But it is not about deprivation and poverty. The blue skies speak of sparkling air and the mud houses epitomise cleanliness. A tap stands six feet tall. This simple indigenous technology ensures that women can collect water standing up without having to bend.

Just natural

Moitra reveals, "I was very impressed by the rural life of Ghana, the non-industrialisation has helped in certain ways." Scanning his work he says, "The idea of Africa is that it is about hungry children with flies around their mouth, but you don't see beggars there. It is not a strife-torn country." The photos are also about the people of Ghana. The smiles and postures of the women at the tap make apparent their camaraderie. Water and gossip flows freely, proves the photo. In "Mona Lisa of the tropics" a lady in pink carries farm-fresh yams on her head. She is off-centre of the frame but is just as regal and statuesque as the ancient tree in the centre of the frame. A single photo of a single lady denotes the pride of a nation. People in the photographs are happy. Moitra speaks affectionately of the people in Ghana. "Everyone is beautiful, there is no anger, and everyone seems to be at peace." Moitra recounts that in Ghana, people say, "You're welcome", before saying "Hello". Politeness is their nature. They are notorious for saying "Thank you"! But they also ask every outsider "Take me to America". Aspiration and reality are made apparent in an accidental photo. Two young boys sit spinning kente cloth, but one boy's T-shirt reads, "Computer Alternatives". The inauguration of the exhibition was also a celebration of 50 years of Ghana's Independence. The event was also marked by dances from the country. NANDINI NAIR

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