Africa’s biggest photography library opens in Ghana

The largest photography library in Africa has opened in Ghana’s capital, Accra. Photo: Dikan Centre

The largest photography library in Africa has opened in Ghana’s capital, Accra. Photo: Dikan Centre

Published Dec 20, 2022


Cape Town – The largest photography library in Africa has opened in Ghana’s capital, Accra.

Founded by Ghanaian photographer and film-maker Paul Ninson, the Dikan Center houses more than 30 000 books he has collected.

Reportedly, the first of its kind in Africa, a photo studio and classrooms provide space for workshops while a fellowship programme is aimed at African documentarians and visual artists.

Meanwhile, an exhibition space will host regular shows, the first of which was Ahennie, a series by the late Ghanaian documentary photographer Emmanuel Bobbie, also known as Bob Pixel.

The Dikan Centre was started after Brandon Stanton, author of the book Humans of New York, who began the crowdfunding campaign that helped to establish the centre.

According to Humans of New York, Paul had a child at a young age, and taught himself photography to support his daughter.

“There were few resources available to him. As Paul explained, ‘It was hard for me to find a single photography book in Ghana’.

“Paul was also frustrated that most photojournalism in Africa was being done by foreign journalists.”

“When Paul was given the opportunity to study in America for a year, he began collecting photography books to bring home with him—so others would have something to study.

“This quickly evolved into a spiritual mission of sorts. He networked with booksellers.

“He received donations from private galleries and collectors.”

“And he’s now managed to collect over 30 000 photography books – enough to build the largest photo library in Africa.

“Which is exactly what he intends to do.

“And we are currently fundraising to help him.

“Paul has assisted me several times over the past two years, and we’ve become very close.”

“One of the first things I noticed is that he takes his religion very seriously.

“One of his core beliefs, which I’ve heard him say over and over, is: ‘Givers never lack’.

“Paul was struggling hard in America.

“But no matter what I gave him — he’d give much of it away.

“He’d use the money to buy books for the library.

“He’d send it to people back in Ghana.

“He set up a community fridge in Brooklyn and kept it stocked.”

“Paul always felt commanded to pass along whatever he was given.

“To quote another of his favourite sayings: ‘We must be channels of blessing.’

“This is the kind of person that we’re investing in with our fund-raiser.

“Paul is going to help untold numbers of people with his library, because that’s what he cares about more than anything else in life.

“I’m very grateful for his friendship, and the example he’s provided me over the past two years.”

“I’d love nothing more than if we could be a ‘channel of blessing’ for him—so that he can continue to help others.

“We’ve raised $750 000 so far for Dikan Centre.

“Thanks to everyone who’s contributed.”

Stanton attended attended the opening with Ninson, whom he met while living in New York, citing The Guardian.

“Humans of New York began as a photography project in 2010.

“The initial goal was to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers on the street, and create an exhaustive catalogue of the city’s inhabitants," Stanton writes on the Humans of New York website.