Nigeria: Breaking Stereotypes With Chocolonely’s Reframed Exhibition (Cocoa & Color).

It’s encouraging to know that as the world evolves, so the appreciation of different art genres which have become tools for correction, driving positive change and engendering development in the society, increases.

The latest addition of “Reframed: Cocoa & Color”, an exhibition of 13 photographs that tell the stories of cocoa farmers working in an open chain, into the LagosPhoto portfolio, is a well thought-out inclusion. This is so because the exhibition aims to help break stereotypes regarding how chocolates are manufactured across the globe.

“Reframed: Cocoa and Color” by Ghanaian-American artist, Joshua Kissi, is a digital photo and storytelling expo with the objective to show the impact of direct relationships in the cocoa supply chain. It was launched on November 17th at Siza Consulting Ltd, Victoria Island, Lagos, and ended on November 24, 2019. The exhibition held courtesy of LagosPhoto, Tony’s Chocolonely and Siza Consulting Ltd.

Joshua Kissi is a Ghanaian-American creative entrepreneur specializing in photography and creative direction, based in New York City. Raised in the Bronx, Kissi grew up with an affinity for the arts and picked up a camera at the age of seventeen. Kissi and his partner, Travis Gumbs founded Street Etiquette in 2008, a creative agency with the hopes of producing visual content through a cultural, historical and urban lens. Street Etiquette has grown an impressive catalogue of clients including Apple, Adidas, GQ, Puma and many more.

The opening reception of the exhibition featured LagosPhoto in conversation with several innovative brands working with cocoa and chocolate here in Nigeria. The panel comprised the CEO of Ibadan based ChocBoy, Oluwajare Fola-Bolumole; Princess Odiakosa, the Founder of Kalabari Gecko, and Sanne Steemers, the founder of My 36 Chocolates.

It also featured musical act, Idris King who entertained with a surprise performance of 3 yet-to-be released singles.

The narrative was that Joshua Kissi went to Ghana and Ivory Coast and reframed cocoa and colour. The colourful frames symbolize the openness and different perspectives of the people in Tony’s Open Chain. While in the two countries, Kissi met with the farmers; Sarah, Jérôme, Eugénie, Didier, Martin, etc. these were inspiring, successful and vibrant people working in cocoa farms. They are ambassadors for a more equally divided cocoa chain without illegal child labour and commercial exploitation.

Prior to Kissi’s works, Tony’s Chocolonely discovered that change was needed in the cocoa industry. Illegal child labour and forced labour were manifestations of the industry’s profit maximizing business model in which direct and equal relations between producers, purchasers and consumers have disappeared.Close

“Within Tony’s Open Chain, everybody is connected. We know exactly who we work with and assess the risks of child labour and forced labour together with the farmer groups. We work directly with our partners and know their unique personalities, skills and stories.”

Project Manager for LagosPhoto Ngoverue Ahoa explained that Kissi’s works will go a long way in helping to change the stereotypes about the chocolate business.

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According to her, “Tony’s Chocolonely was founded to change the narrative of cocoa farming. When the Chocolate Company was carrying out its research, they discovered atrocities such as forced child labour, slavery, physical abuse etc, meted on the farmers. This resulted in Kissi’s invitation to partner with the Dutch company. Thereafter, he went to Ghana and Cote d’voire, to photograph cocoa farmers. The Company is therefore, committed to showing the world that quality products can be made out of cocoa in a very conducive and friendly atmosphere.

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