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Published: 21 November 2020

By Andy Ross

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Ghana Must Go - the bag that contains more than things

In the 1980s, undocumented immigrants in Nigeria were given orders to leave the country. Many were from Ghana.

Packing their belongings into the ubiquitous bags, people fled the country and, because more than half were Ghanaians returning to their home country, the packaging became known as "Ghana Must Go" bags. They carried with them the history of their owners, and the memories, culture and hopes of thousands of people. 

Now the Nigerian photographer Obinna Obioma, working with Chioma Obiegbu, a Nigerian visual artist and designer, and fashion stylist Wuraola Oladapo, have created fashion out of the bags, and a photographic exhibition of the pieces being worn. It is a project that explores migration and identity and not a little political comment. 

This mass movement of people has had repercussions. Even today, nearly forty years later, the politics surrounding immigration in the region is complex. Ghanaians were angered by their exclusion from the oil-rich economy of Nigeria then, and now that anger is rising again, driven by Nigeria's economic decline and Ghana's economic rise, tensions encapsulated in the Ghana Must Go bag