Africa’s biggest photography library, Dikan opens in Ghana

The largest photography library in Africa has opened in Accra, Ghana.
The photography library known as Dikan was founded by Ghanaian photographer and film-maker Paul Ninson. Dikan means “take the lead” in Twi; a Ghanaian language.
The library will showcase the work of the African continent and diaspora’s forgotten, established and emerging talents. The Dikan centre has over 30,000 books collected by the founder. The centre also houses a photo studio and classrooms provide space for workshops.
There are books of work by pioneering black photographers, such as Gordon Parks, who was the first African American photographer to have a staff position at Life magazine, and publications including National Geographic. Other books include one signed by Stephen Hill, who was governor of Gold Coast as Ghana was known before independence, dated 1852.
The centre also intends to organise a fellowship programme, aimed at African documentarians and visual artists. An exhibition space will host regular shows, the first of which is Ahennie, a series by the late Ghanaian documentary photographer Emmanuel Bobbie (also known as Bob Pixel), who died in 2021.
The bond-trader-turned-photographer Brandon Stanton, was present at the opening of the Dikan centre. Brandon who is the author of Humans of New York, started the crowdfunding campaign which aided in establishing the centre. The two met while Paul Ninson was living in New York.
Ninson was studying at the School of the International Center of Photography in New York when he began collecting photography books.
To many photographers this is a step in the right direction as they would learn to enhance their work and also know what other photographers did before them.
West Africa has a long history of photography. The likes of George Lutterodt, who ran pop-up studios and opened a business in Accra in 1876 and James Banor who established Ghana’s first colour processing lab have influenced photography greatly in the sub-region.
Ninson’s vision for Dikan, is to celebrate the accomplishments of African artists and inspire emerging photographers.