2017 Masterclass West Africa

The Masterclass West Africa took place in Accra, Ghana, from 8 to 12 March 2017, with the aim to support the most promising young visual journalists in their professional development. 

The Masterclass West Africa was the third in the World Press Photo Foundation’s series of satellite masterclasses, after previous editions in Mexico and Kenya. It is based on the formula of the Joop Swart Masterclass, which is run annually for the world’s most talented emerging visual journalists and designed to support and enhance diversity in photojournalism.

All photographers who have worked on visual stories about daily life, nature, politics and society were encouraged to apply for the Masterclass West Africa. In total, 116 portfolios were submitted. The following 12 photographers—4 women and 8 men of 5 different nationalities—were selected by a jury consisting of OFF the wall founder and creative director Anna-Alix Koffi, and representatives of the World Press Photo Foundation and Noorderlicht:

  • Laeïla Adjovi (F, Benin)
  • Apagnawen Annankra (M, Ghana)
  • Ayobami Ogungbe (M, Nigeria)
  • Adrien Bitibaly (M, Burkina Faso)
  • Yagazie Emezi (F, Nigeria)
  • Yannick Folly (M, Benin)
  • Rahima Gambo (F, Nigeria)
  • Eric Gyamfi (M, Ghana)
  • Francis Kokoroko (M, Ghana)
  • Teresa Meka (F, Ghana)
  • Baudouin Mouanda, (M, Republic of the Congo)
  • Tom Saater (M, Nigeria)

The World Press Photo Foundation was pleased to welcome the following masters:

  • François-Xavier Gbré (France/Ivory Coast)
  • Malin Fezehai (Eritrea/Sweden)
  • Nii Obodai (Ghana)
  • Nyani Quarmyne (Ghana/Australia)
  • Whitney Richardson (USA)

The masters were chosen to meet the learning needs of the selected participants.

The masterclass curriculum was structured around photo essays based on the central theme of “Identity” that participants were required to work on in preparation for the masterclass. The masterclass week also included lectures and individual instruction with all masters.

Participation in Masterclass West Africa is free for those selected, and all travel and lodging expenses are covered by the World Press Photo Foundation.

Additional activities were organized during the workshop period, including a forum discussion at Alliance Française Accra on Thursday evening 9 March, entitled “Photography: The crossroads of cultural exchange.” This forum discussed the opportunities and challenges of cross-institutional cooperation and how photography can be used as a tool to communicate within and between cultures. A portfolio review session was also organized at Nubuke Foundation on Saturday 11 March, with Noorderlicht’s Marc Prüst, Ghanaian photographer Nana Kofi Acquah and Ghanaian architect Joe Addo.

Anna-Alix Koffi, member of the selection committee, reflected on the entries:

“I have been very pleased to discover the scope of work, the talent, and the undeniable will of the applicants. I am always moved to see the emergence of photographers, to witness their gaze on their environment, especially because it is about Africa. Often the limitations of funding and the difficulties of travelling mean the subjects are close to the photographers' homes, so I hope that this excellent initiative of World Press Photo will continue and will be emulated on the continent as a way to improve on this.”

Master Nyani Quarmyne says:

"There’s so much about the day-to-day reality of being a photographer that many of us who are working professionals have had to figure out on our own; things that are not found in the pages of books or on course timetables. This is especially true for those of us who entered the business far from the industry hubs of Europe and North America. So I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to pass on some of the things I’ve figured out thus far along my own journey, and hopefully smooth the path a little for talented young photographers trying to make their own way from this part of the world."


Participant Rahima Gambo from Nigeria says:

“Participation in the masterclass was a very clarifying experience for me. It allowed me to look at my work and practice in a critical way in relation with other photographers at different stages in their careers. It opened my mind to the varied possibilities and forms a life as a photographer could take. More than anything it was an inspirational ten days looking at pictures and connecting.”