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Storytelling is a compulsion
It is fair to say that Talking Drums was a family affair. My first job, as it were, as a teenager was helping my mother and her colleagues label envelopes and stuff magazines in them to mail out our weekly subscriptions. I spent my summers in what passed for a newsroom at Madhav House, soaking in the atmosphere as news developed, taking calls with stringers asking them when they were planning to send their reports, proof reading and editing copy and occasionally helping shape the articles that would be conjured up just before deadline. I always marveled at how the issue would materialize in those few hours before we would go to press

The magazine punched above its weight, was widely read and influential, albeit run on a shoestring budget. Its biggest impact was in telling an alternate story of Africa for those four years. It kept those others, West Africa magazine and the Jeune Afriques on their toes, Western pundits that would normally blowviate in the pages of The Guardian, Times or Telegraph would pause before glossing and delivering their bromides - everyone was on notice. The energy of the journalists involved amazed me at the time and I trust you'll find lots to savor as you browse the issues.

Talking Drums The West African Magazine

The archive, such as it was, had been sitting in my mother's garage, having made its way from London to Accra sought out by researchers almost to no avail. A few years ago, I scanned the covers as a first step to digitize the magazine. Prompted by the pandemic, I finally decided to help rescue the rest to bring it to the web. For a few hours in the afternoon before I would catch a flight back to my current home in Texas, I simply took photos with my camera of as many pages of the magazines that I could find. I found that to be more expeditious if less professional than using a scanner.

My next tool was Google Lens to extract the text from the 2500 odd images which I then used to manually craft this web site - hand writing the html with a trusty text editor. Blame any errors on my lack of photographic prowess and my poor man's toolchain. Similarly the design aesthetic is by necessity low brow, the writing is what I thought mattered.

talking drums word cloud

Some statistics: I came across 99 issues in my endeavors but for a few issues, I only seem have photographed a few pages besides the cover. I will try to fill in the rest if possible. If you manage to find any additional issues, I'd be grateful to add to the collection. This being said, I believe there is grand body of work that deserves a wider audience.

Welcome to Talking Drums.

Koranteng Ofosu-Amaah
April 2024

Kofi Akumanyi Elizabeth Ohene and Ben Mensah

talking drums back covers