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Koliko is the name of our iconic key rings made mainly from recycled glass beads, from Ghana, seed beads and wire. Koliko, in my local parlance, means Puppet. It might seem an obvious explanation for it, as these keyrings are made in the human form and don’t have a will of their own but only bend to the creative impulses of their owners, i.e. they assume any position that the owner puts them in.

However, there is a deeper meaning to these figurines. They are my depiction of Africans who were captured, enslaved and sold to colonial masters, who further dehumanized them by subjecting them to unfathomable cruelty before, during and after their journey from their homelands to foreign shores.

In Ghana, about 40 slave castles, trading posts and forts were constructed during the slave trade and amongst them, the biggest happens to be the Cape Coast Castle. It is then safe to say that Ghana was at the center of the slave trade in Africa.

In as much as this is part of our history, we always have a choice as to make this part of our story taint our identity as Africans or make us stronger and vow never to be made slaves again.

As human beings, we are all born free. Circumstances in our lives may make us feel beaten down and chained up. However, depending on our perspective on things, we can either sit and wallow in self-pity or fight to break the chains that bind us.

With every Koliko you hold or carry with you, you decide what it represents to you, a symbol of bondage or a crown of victory. As it is a puppet, it is your right and privilege to bend or care for it according to your desires. How you treat your Koliko at every point in time, is an expression of your emotional or mental state.

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