On an overcast day that blended with all the other humid days Ghana offered, cohort member Andie and I set out to tell a story. We had no idea what would amount from our expedition or who we would meet. We only had one common purpose: to make something great. Naturally, as all great adventures precariously start, these thoughts brewed inside my head as we gripped on tightly to motorcycle drivers doubling as taxis. Smells of garbage and the thick humidity morphed into sea breezes and fresh air as we approached the neighborhood village Bukom. Dropped near a large concrete compound, we were told this is where we would find stories, a place where Ghanaians who worked all day would come only to sweat more. We were entering the world of boxing.
Covering boxing, let alone Ghanaian boxing, was a unique experience to say the least. Andie first got the idea to cover a story on boxing after watching the Vice documentary Boys of Bukom. I, however, had little to no boxing knowledge under my belt, yet we decided to dive in head first and experience both the physical and mental challenges it took to be a boxer.
Luckily for us, the boxers at Attoh Quarshie boxing gym were kind enough to grant us access to film their everyday experiences in what it takes to groom the next Ghanaian champion. At first our idea was to create a montage covering the boxers explaining Ghana’s connection to the sport of boxing and how this passion manifests in each boxer. If you ask any Ghanaian, they will likely say that soccer and boxing are hand in hand ingrained in both the history and lifestyle of the Gold Coast.
After interviewing a handful of boxers, we realized the difficulty in finding both a unique outlook and creating enough interview content to create a solid voiceover. It was hard to get some boxers to break out of their shells, while others laughed, garrulously cracking jokes with us. Yet, all the boxers at Attoh Quarshie were beyond kind and willing to let us berate them with questions. Although we were able to produce an overwhelming amount of boxing footage in a short amount of time, we were still directionally challenged. We sat down and asked ourselves, “Who could offer us enough insight to really hone in on the culture of Ghanaian boxing?” The answer was so obvious and right in front of our faces. We would bring our focus to the coaches.
Our weekly trips to Bukom made me proud to be in the field of media and journalism. For one, we were able to go out into the field and seek out the right story to tell. We were in the heart of Accra, meeting former world champions and entering into personal and private parts of others’ lives, connecting on an emotional level. To add to the excitement, we had to problem solve and keep a positive attitude. Seeing our project start from nothing, flounder and then sprout into at least some tangible work was a rewarding experience.
Shooting sports was a larger challenge than we had anticipated. If I learned one thing it is that boxers are quick. The constant moving in and out of the depth of field made many shots unusable. This, however, allowed us to attempt to fix our mistakes along the way, capturing shots that were decent, then shots that were actually in focus! Even when it was discouraging to not come out with picture perfect shots, this was a great learning process in the art of visual storytelling.
Adventuring out into the city to tell the stories of others is a blessing we were offered in the Media in Ghana program. Yet, we as humans have the power to connect and change our perspective through interaction and storytelling. Whether through video, writing, painting or even coffee and a conversation, the beauty of life and human connection is transferred through stories. We are happy to share a short glimpse into a long fought Ghanaian story.