West Africa Visual Journalism Fellowship

Meet the three West Africa Visual Journalism fellowship talents

We are proud to announce the three talents selected for the West Africa Visual Journalism Fellowship, the World Press Photo Foundation’s new educational program in partnership with the Chocolonely Foundation:

  • Ofoe Amegavie, Ghana
  • Adrien Bitibaly, Burkina Faso
  • Aka Aboubakhr Thierry Kouame, Côte d'Ivoire

The West Africa Visual Journalism Fellowship will support three emerging visual journalists and storytellers from Burkina Faso, Ghana, and the Côte d'Ivoire. The chosen fellows are individuals who already have demonstrable professional skills, possess the vision, determination, and passion for telling the stories that matter, but lack the opportunity, resources, and support to develop their storytelling abilities.

The fellowship includes

  • A production grant of €5000 to undertake a journalism project of their choosing in their communities in West Africa
  • A grant of €5000 to help cover the fellows’ living expenses while they are reporting and producing their story
  • Two workshops on location in Ghana
  • Mentorship through the development, production, and post-production of their project, as well as give general career advice and coaching all along the year.

Selection process

The fellowship opened for entries in August 2019. In total, 31 applications were submitted. Six applicants were from Burkina Faso, 15 were from Ghana, and 10 from Côte d'Ivoire. Six of the applicants were female, and 25 were male.

Selection committee:

  • Laeila Adjovi, France/Benin, photographer, storyteller and visual artist based in Dakar, Senegal.
  • Emilie Regnier, Haiti/Canada, artist and photographer
  • Juliette Garms, France, writer, photo editor and Programs and Outreach Coordinator at the World Press Photo Foundation

Ofoe Amegavie, Ghana

Ofoe Amegavie is a Ghanaian photographer known for capturing the intimacy in his culture and heritage. Since 2011, he has been working both as a documentary and fashion photographer. He has been able to create his own unique style by applying a curious approach and a spiritual perspective to fine art, fashion and documentary photography.

For the fellowship, he will work on a project about the Volta Delta. the delta is situated on Ghana’s coast about 100km East of Accra, with Ada-Foah and Keta on either side, connecting the ocean and the Volta river. Both are communities of fishermen; the ocean and riverside is life to them. For decades they have been struggling with changing weather conditions – they have lost land and homes to the ocean due to coastal erosion, amongst others. Mangroves have declined due to environmental and human activity. Today in Ghana there are many activities along the coast that look into restoring and preserving the mangroves, as well as managing these ecosystems through community involvement and local governance. Exploring the projects in their different stages will give insight into the impact of such measures on the lives of the people and the condition of the ecosystem.

Ofoe has a very personal and often poetic vision. I am very excited to see how his project - very precise and human oriented, on the preservation of mangrove within his own community - will unfold.” - Laeila Adjovi on Ofoe Amegavie’s work and project proposal.

This fellowship is a great opportunity for me to grow and develop as a storyteller,” Amegavie says. “Through the project, I want to show how a fragile coastal ecosystem can be restored and sustainably preserved, through the engagement and ownership of various parties, at the example of Ada, Keta and the islands in the Volta river.

Adrien Bitibaly, Burkina Faso

Adrien Bitibaly started photography as a self-taught student, and then learned the craft by participating in numerous workshops in Burkina Faso and around West Africa. This allowed him to improve technically and develop subjects to explore the different fields of photography. Since 2010, he specializes in documentary photography. He uses photography as a way of expressing his relationship to the world through emotions, sensations and the need to document social transformations.

His project focuses on a railway line linking Burkina Faso to Côte d’Ivoire. It extends over 1260 km and more than 300,000 people use it every year. Single track on almost the entire journey, it allows you to travel with a slowness favorable to contemplation: this train runs at a maximum speed of 50 km / h. To travel from Ouagadougou to Abidjan is 32 hours. The project will explore the following questions: How, in a globalized world where everything is always faster, do passengers live this journey out of time? How is life organized in this enclosed space? How does the locomotive attract life in its path?

I am very happy to be a recipient of this scholarship, which is an important step for me in my career. This will allow me to realize a project that is really close to my heart and I expect a lot of exchanges with mentors to enrich my practice,” he says.

Juliette Garms on Adrien’s work and project proposal: “Adrien’s approach is contemplative and personal yet very engaged in societal issues. I look forward to seeing how his original project proposal about the railway in West Africa will unfold. An exciting journey blending spontaneous encounters and drawing on today’s most pressing global themes; migration, movement and opportunities.”

Dadi, Ivory Coast

Aka Aboubakhr Thierry Kouame aka ‘Dadi’ is a visual artist and Ivorian creative director based in Grand Bassam in Ivory Coast. He is inspired by poetry, the spirit of water, nature, the sea, the night, the study and observation of civilizations.

His project analyzes the role and importance of alliances in society N'Zima of Grand Bassam.

This is a study of the political organization and shared values within this community. In the past, these alliances between families, tribes or ethnic groups constituted guarantees of peace, mutual respect and stability. In 2020, Côte d’Ivoire will experience its umpteenth presidential election in a very fragile social and political climate. After decades of political instability, it is a society that has seen the values and principles that federate flying apart. Through this study I would like to understand and bring to the surface the political organization and shared values within the N’zima community, where the alliances subsist, and thus contribute to the maintenance of a stability essential to the development of our nation.” he explains.

I am very excited to receive this scholarship. It will allow me to deepen my research on Grand-Bassam and acquire new skills through workshops. I think it will allow me to develop my art through the exploration of subjects that are important to me,” he adds. 

Aka Aboubakhr Thierry Kouame's work is very poetic, but also rooted within the community he is living in. The subject seems challenging at first, but might give us a better understanding of tradition and moral values, free from the weight of a more conventional aesthetic used to document those spaces.” Emilie Reignier on Dadi’s work and project proposal.

Three mentors will support and advise the fellows all along the year: Emilie Regnier, Canada/Haiti; Nii Obodai, Ghana; and Marc Prust, The Netherlands.

The first workshop will take place in Accra, Ghana at the beginning of February 2020 and will be organised together with our local partner Nuku Studio.

Learn more about the West Africa Visual Journalism Fellowship