In Pictures

The tradesmen of Kumasi

On 6 March 1957, Ghana, formerly known as the Gold Coast, gained independence from Britain.

To mark the 60th anniversary of the end of colonial rule, London-based photographer Ricky Darko headed back to his birthplace of Kumasi, in the south of the country, to document what type of job opportunities were available to men of his generation.

A view of a hillside town in Kumasi, Ghana Image copyright Ricky Darko

Having just celebrated his 30th birthday, Darko focused on men of a similar age to himself and set out to photograph them in their working environments.

He met his subjects at the start of their working day and found that each had their own unique trade and skills, often passed down from older family members.

From mechanics to construction workers, most of the men worked from sunrise to sunset, through temperatures of up to 35C.

"Their attitude to life was so thankful and blessed," Darko says.

"They worked so hard and such long hours in the hot weather but never complained."

David is one of the men he encountered.

He drives around Kumasi doing a variety of tasks from collecting rubbish to delivering water.

David, a delivery man in Kumasi Image copyright Ricky Darko

Kwame looks through the window of the silver car he uses to chauffeur a wealthy family.

On a typical day, he will take the family to visit friends, as well as driving to the market to collect groceries and supplies for their daily life.

Kwame sits in his car Image copyright Ricky Darko
A pile of dirt in Kumasi, Ghana Image copyright Ricky Darko

Sitting on the bonnet of his taxi, Nana Kwasi told Darko that he would hire this car for 40 Ghanaian cedi (£7.50) every day.

He then journeys around Kumasi to try to earn enough money to support his family.

A man stands next to his taxi Image copyright Ricky Darko

Squatting next to some of the steel gates and doors he constructs for clients is Akwasi.

His workshop is on the side of a residential road, and he welds products for Ghanaians from the local area.

Akwasi sits next to his gates Image copyright Ricky Darko
A man lights a fire in Kumasi, Ghana Image copyright Ricky Darko
A man welds a fence Image copyright Ricky Darko

Francis works as a food vendor, mainly selling chewing gum along the city's busy roads.

"He was full of life and laughed at me all day as I struggled to communicate in the language of Twi [a dialect of the Akan language, mainly spoken across southern Ghana].

"He found it very amusing that I would mix up my words," says Darko.

Francis a food vendor Image copyright Ricky Darko

These two brothers sit outside their shop, where they sell household supplies.

Yaw, on the left, and Poku, on the right, work 16 hours a day running their stall.

Two men sit outside a stall Image copyright Ricky Darko
A roadside hut in Kumasi, Ghana Image copyright Ricky Darko

Emmanuel works as a day and night security guard for a property in Kumasi.

He walks the grounds from sunrise to midnight Monday to Friday and then travels three hours in order to be with his family at the weekends.

Emmanuel, a security guard Image copyright Ricky Darko

Michael sells mobile phone credit from a small wooden cabinet and water sachets from a cooler box.

Michael, mobile credit vendor Image copyright Ricky Darko

All photographs copyright Ricky Darko.

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