AFRICAN MIDDLE CLASS | Photographer: Ulrik Tofte
This is Habib Manzah Iddi’s first motorcycle. He is part of a growing new generation of youth that is aware of the surrounding world and strives towards their dreams. They are determined not to live like their parents did, but wish to assimilate to the modern world.
According to the UN site World’s Best News, every third African is now considered middle class, around 33% of the population having up to $20 dollars to spend a day. With the extreme poverty of the last few decades slowly dissipating, people in places like Ghana can afford more than just food for survival. Across the continent, Africans are spending more money on education, healthcare and entrepreneurial endeavors, creating a landscape of rapid cultural, economic and social change. Danish photographer Ulrik Tofte documents the young people in the middle of this transformative upheaval, their lives a constant balance of old traditions and new possibilities.
The Key Is Not To Blink presents a different vision of Africa than we are used to. Tofte focused on youth in Northern Ghana, determined to capture images contrasting the typical photos of war and starving children so familiar to us. The growing middle class has created a culture more focused on the individual – people now more free to have dreams, desires and personal goals. Torn between issues of religion, pop culture, familial expectations and consumerism, young Africans have an uncertain and limitless world in which to navigate their lives. Though progress can be slow, Ghana and other countries like it continue to move forward while trying to preserve some sense of their past.