Sounding out ideas on language, vivid sensory words, and iconicity

Finalist in the AAA Photo contest

The results of the AAA photo contest have just been announced. Congratulations to the winner, Peter Biella! Of my four submissions, one made it to the finals (best 20) and one to the semifinals (best 54). All 294 submissions will appear in the AAA Flickr gallery in due course; mine follow below.

My finalist was the following photo, titled “Kããã“:

Kyeei Yao, an age group leader, oversees a festival in Akpafu-Mempeasem, Volta Region, Ghana. The expensive draped cloth, the Ashanti-inspired wreath, the strings of beads which are handed down through the generations, and the digital wristwatch work together to remind us that culture is a moving target, always renewing and reshaping itself.
Kããã is a Siwu ideophone for ‘looking attentively’.

This picture was taken by my wife, Gijske de Boo, while I was busy videotaping the same events that Kyeei Yao is attending to. Together with the other 19 finalists it will be featured in the upcoming issue of Anthropology News; the finalists will also be hung as prints in the AAA office.

The photo that made the semifinals is called “The drum makers“:

Two artisans repair an atumpani drum in preparation for the funeral of a chief in Akpafu-Mempeasem, Volta Region, Ghana. A newly prepared antelope skin is fastened to the hard wood frame of the drum using a nylon cord and wooden pegs.

This picture was taken on the compound of Joseph (the man to the right), very close to my own home in Akpafu-Mempeasem. The earthen wall behind the men is Joe’s house, built of sun-hardened puddled mud like most houses in the village.

Bad Death

A submission which I thought was perhaps the most interesting even though it didn’t make it to the semifinals was “Bad Death ritual“:

A ‘bad death’ ritual in Ghana’s Volta Region. On the village cemetery, relatives of a man who died in a hunting accident listen anxiously to a woman who is possessed by the spirit of the deceased. The hunters, who have just brought the spirit home from the place of the accident deep in the jungle, keep their distance. Red is the colour of danger, black that of death.

This event took place right after a long and tiring march into the jungle and back, to pacify the spirit of a hunter killed in a tragic accident. I was able to take the picture from this perspective because I was dragged right in front of the possessed woman by Foster, one of my assistants, who had been my guide on the expedition. I also have an audio recording of her speech, which turned out to be a very interesting mix of prophesy and admonition. I’ll have to write more about that some time.

My final submission was the photo of Akpafu-Todzi which is also featured on this blog.

It’s a sunny day in Akpafu-Todzi, the old mountain citadel of the Mawu people in the central Volta Region of Ghana. The town, which has endured numerous sieges and which was the site of an ancient iron industry, is tranquil because this is the time for most people to engage in collaborative rice farming.

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4 responses to “Finalist in the AAA Photo contest”

  1. […] The Ideophone has a whole heap of gorgeous, thought-provoking photographs submitted to the AAA Photo contest.  Y’know, I meant to submit my own photographs to this contest, but Mark’s photos are amazing and so well described that I’m fairly certain mine would not have made it to the top 20. […]

  2. Checked in on Phillip Hewer’s blog and that sent me off roaming around yours. Nkonya has a healthy number of ideophones. We used quite a few in the translation as Foster, one of the Nkonya translators is particularly fond of them.

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