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Photographer Ricky Darko documents the young men of Kumasi in This Is Africa

PUBLISHED: 08:00 04 May 2017

Ricky Darko's This Is Africa project in Ghana. Picture: Ricky Darko

Ricky Darko's This Is Africa project in Ghana. Picture: Ricky Darko

Ricky Darko Photography 2017

Ricky Darko returned to his birthplace of Ghana to photograph young men around Independence Day

Ricky Darko's This Is Africa project in Ghana. Picture: Ricky DarkoRicky Darko's This Is Africa project in Ghana. Picture: Ricky Darko

In March, Ghana celebrated 60 years of independence from British Colonial rule, and photographer Ricky Darko was there to document it.

“The feeling around Independence Day in Ghana is very proud and honoured,” he says. “I love Ghana, it brings back a lot of memories from my childhood and I still have family there so it is my second home.”

Moving to London at the age of three, Darko still lives in Islington, but decided to return to Ghana in honour of Independence Day and his 30th birthday.

He spent his time photographing young local men of a similar age to him, with professions ranging from carpenters, welders and stone masons to taxi drivers, culminating in his project This Is Africa.

Ricky Darko's This Is Africa project in Ghana. Picture: Ricky DarkoRicky Darko's This Is Africa project in Ghana. Picture: Ricky Darko

“A really enjoyable moment for me is when one of my subjects, Amos, a welder in Kumasi, yelled out: “Ricky, are you taking me to London?” By this he meant, will his photograph be featured and shown to people in London? Thankfully this happened and his request came true.”

A self taught photographer, Darko began on his first camera in 2013 while working full time in the City. The following year, he quit his job and pursued it as a career, taking on commercial clients including Timberland and the BAFTAs.

But This Is Africa was a personal pursuit.

“When I arrived in Ghana I spent a few days introducing myself to people and businesses in the hope that they would be willing to participate in my project. I wanted to find men of a similar age to me to photograph them in their working environments as I’m a huge fan of environmental portraiture.

Ricky Darko's This Is Africa project in Ghana. Picture: Ricky DarkoRicky Darko's This Is Africa project in Ghana. Picture: Ricky Darko

“I built a connection with each of the men to discover their backgrounds and how they developed into their careers. Some were not able to read and write but inherited their skills through family. I met each of the subjects at their work location at sunrise ready to start the day.

“Their attitude to life was so thankful and blessed; they worked so hard and such long hours in the hot weather but never complained.”

Darko undertook the project to find out what sort of job opportunities were available for men of his age in Ghana.

“My passion lies in creativity,” he says. “If I was still living in Ghana I would probably be pursuing a different type of career but still working with people, such as a teacher, which is what my Grandfather worked as for 35 years.”

Ricky Darko's This Is Africa project in Ghana. Picture: Ricky DarkoRicky Darko's This Is Africa project in Ghana. Picture: Ricky Darko

The full collection can be seen at: rickydarkophotography.com

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