At age 21, many young people his age or older today, are still confronted with the dilemma of having to figure out what to do with their lives.
While the majority of young people wait until after tertiary education, to begin the search for employment ( usually without success), Fahd Mahama, a Level 300 Journalism student of the Ghana Institute of Journalism, is charting a path towards achieving his dreams of becoming a filmmaker par excellence.
And it did not happen overnight!
Born on April 25, 1994 into a modest family of eight, and the last of six children, Fahd is only the first to have enrolled in the university and looks to make the lives of his family better while also impacting society.
Having been raised in one of Accra’s suburbs thought to be notoriously associated with thuggery, he is bent on changing the narrative – to a point, it would be agreed that genuine success can be achieved even from the corridors of Nima – a largely impoverished community in the Ghanaian capital.
But, this has been due partly to the positive influence immediate family and parent figures like his former high school headmistress and others have had on him since the wee parts of his formative years.
How it started
Creativity is a central source of meaning in the lives of humans. Most of the things that are interesting, important, and beautiful are the result of creativity – and Fahd has always been in the mix of many things creative.
” I have always loved taking pictures. I had a toy camera my elder brother sent me years ago, which I used to play with and whenever my brothers dropped their phones – all I will do is take pictures, ” the soft-spoken Fahd tells me.
Fahd Mahama had always harbored the inbred passion that he would find himself in media circles, either as an on-air personality in radio and television or would be engaged in behind the scenes activities like camera work and production.
‘The little boy inside him,’ kept speaking to and tickling him, that he could make huge strides in photography and other related disciplines, but he was unaware this could be a big business until he met a past external affairs commissioner of the Ghana Institute of Journalism, Derrick Nii Tagoe, a couple of years ago who opened him up to the world.
“I did not know I could make money from photography,” he remarks with a wry – meeting Nii made an awful lot of difference in his life.
Prior to enrolling in the institute, the enterprising young Mahama shot and edited a cypher and a music video for a group of high school students without having undergone any formal training in the art of photography, graphic design, and editing.
He epitomizes everything self-education and empowerment – unlike his other folks who use the internet and it’s accompanying platforms to perpetuate many forms of fraud, the 21-year old boy from Bawku uses the internet to positive devastating effect.
Everything he knows and does today (since learning and knowledge acquisition is a continuum) in his line of work in film making and photography, he learned by constantly watching tutorials on YouTube and reading nearly all materials available on photography and film making, online.
Art they say is a lifestyle – and indeed thriving and successful economies around the world have had arts in its holistic form as center-stage of growth.
Creative industries in the United Kingdom as of January 2014, for instance, were worth £71.4 billion an hour per year to the UK economy, according to official statistics.
These industries include the film, television, and music – but it’s potential to rake in millions of cedis in revenue is yet to be fully explored in Ghana, however, this is an area Fahd sees himself excelling – the creative arts!
Together with his friends, Hussein Bakuoro ( who got him his DSLR camera he uses now), and Summit Boahen, they have set up a multimedia company named Bakuoru Multimedia to provide clients with unrivaled creative experiences.
He tells me momentarily, he works on a freelance basis while they continue to put finishing touches to arrangements to make ‘Bakuoro multimedia’ a reality in the coming months.
As a creative, Fahd Mahama believes one does not need to wait to get paid before they embark on projects relating to the arts. The thinking behind this is that, photographers are constantly on the lookout for something striking and interesting to capture, be it paid or otherwise.
Until recently, photography in Ghana was not as fashionable and viable an enterprise as it has become today, the budding filmmaking maverick sees a future where this aspect of the arts will be the real deal and would get the buy-ins required to make it grow.
With his skills, and at his level of education, he finds himself working on projects for mates, colleagues, and friends at a fee.
From borrowing a camcorder from a high school rap gang to shoot their cypher and music video, and borrowing laptops from friends to do his editing and design works, through to the point that he now has a DSLR, the journey has been eventful.
Today, to his credit, he has designed and produced call cards, banners, posters, flyers, documentaries, music, and dance videos for students and other clients and has been able to acquire a desktop workstation computer.
Talk of the emerging film making avatars in Ghana, Fahd is definitely among the pack and his works speak for him – and he’s only in Level 300!
However, all these have come at a price. The self-confessed filmmaker tells me how he skipped lectures during his early days in GIJ, just to empower himself and hone his craft and how he has had to give up sleep to finish up clients’ jobs – which invariably told on his academic performances.
The ballsy chap is also big on advocacy – he has been involved in producing a documentary for a religious project dubbed PPF PROJECT, to unify the different sects in the Muslim fraternity and the need for people to understand one another as the basics of humanity.
The PPF Project is an initiative pioneered by Chief Executive Officer of Yaasalam Publishers, Abdulsalam Mohammed Daaru, who has been one of the pillars in Fahd’s life.
In May this year, he was on a team of students from the Keteke club who made a humanitarian trip to Funko, a small town in Takoradi to donate food items and some learning materials to underprivileged children in that part of the country.
Fahd is the man behind the documentary produced for that trip – shooting and editing.
Like many visionary and daring individuals, one of his career highlights in photography and film making will be to shoot a music video for multiple-award-winning American singer, songwriter and actress, Taylor Swift.
He sees her music videos as inspirationally exceptional, “I like all her videos – the photography, cinematography, and storylines are mind-blowing, getting to shoot that one video for her would be my personal career highlight,” he notes.
While he doesn’t work to win awards as his primary goal, he envisages his works would be recognized and if the awards come – all the better!
Aside from shooting two videos while in high school, Fahd has produced many more dance videos, documentaries, school projects and is currently working on a spoken word video series for his YouTube channel, TalkARTIST.
According to him, six episodes have already been shot and are at the editing stages. Of the six, he’s released one already and is readying himself to release the second (Never Falling Down) before the end of the year.
He also has plans to work with some other spoken-word artistes on campus on this project as well.
Bakuoru Multimedia has already executed two major weddings, a couple of other events, a music video, and a documentary.
Out of the multimedia empire – is a project dubbed, “ApertureOnPoint” which is largely into events photography and videography.
Only a month ago, on October 9 this year, his team at ApertureOnPoint in collaboration with the Efua Sutherland Hall, organized the second edition of a free photo-shoot event for students of the institute (christened Your DP Taya) during the Akwaaba week celebrations, which saw a massive turnout by the students.
Fahd and his team not wanting to leave the weekend students out of the fun are planning a reprise of the event for weekend students only – which would be communicated when details are made certain.
The plan, he says, is to expand the photo-shoot project to other tertiary school campuses before long. Great stuff!
He’s taken to social media as a key tool to promote his works. ” I have stopped talking long ago, I do not like telling people what I want to do, instead I want to show them what I have done, and that’s where social media comes in,” the free-spirited young Fahd intimates.
This is where perhaps most young people are oblivious of the impact social media can have on an individual and his brand. It is commonplace to see the youth use these platforms for unprofitable and worthless stuff – when in fact they could be building their profile and brand with it, at little to no cost.
In the world of business, manufacturers and service providers are quick to wax lyrical about what they can do for clients, but nine times out of ten, the actual goods and services they provide do not match the expectations.
It is in this light that Fahd has commissioned himself to under-promise his clients and then over-deliver. He likes to give clients more than they paid for in terms of worth – because for him, at the end of the day, it is his name that is linked to the work; and it must be of the best standard.
The good old axiom – “You are good as your last job”, immediately rings a bell.
Unlike some families who impose on their wards a particular career path and in some cases push them to pursue their own failed dreams, Fahd’s family are fully in support of his choice and he is overwhelmed by the kind of support he has received from family and close friends.
He is motivated by the trust friends repose in him and his abilities and these, he reiterates keeps him pushing on.
He says, ” I have lost a few friends and cut off some family ties – because of what I do, and even though I hate to say that I am busy, I truly do not have the luxury of time to afford keeping certain groups of people around,” but I have some friends especially those I have met here at GIJ who have been extremely helpful.
Creative Director at Bakuoru Multimedia is humbled to have been associated with Hussein Bakuoru as a friend and a manager through the changing phases of this journey into photography and film making.
He hopes together with Husein and Summit, their multimedia concept will be a full-blown success.
Principles and advice
The cardinal principles he lives by are those of focus, determination and hard work – the informal mantra of ‘we are not sleeping until we make it,’ inspires him.
It is often said that it does not cost a thing to dream, therefore you can dream about the most ambitious things in life – the little secret in all of that, is to strive towards achieving them.
The 21-year old who could pass for a 27- year old or older in terms of intellect says at this stage of life, “I have to get my hands dirty, and this is something young people need to understand.”
He says rather than engaging in frivolous relationships and activities, young people have to channel their energies into profitable ventures and building themselves.
He preaches very minimal engagement in such relationships and activities and admonishes his peers to focus on working towards achieving life’s goals and ambitions.
Some close friends describe Fahd as a very passionate individual whose focus is exemplary – even his leisure times, he is most likely to be found reading around his craft or writing (which is another thing he does quite well).
He is a model to all young people that it is possible to reach the highest of heights once there are elements,m of believe and determination.
For an individual to have invested all his time and effort in honing his talent and craft at such a young age, the future could only be better, but while at it, he has resolved to take his academics seriously even as he launches into the final stretch of his undergraduate education.
His team says “what you pay for in video production from us are skills and experience, and we work according to the creative needs of the client.”
He is of the view that clients would not necessarily ask for school certificates before they give out a job, instead, they want to see what the fellow has done and their track record – it is only then that they may be convinced to award the contracts et al.
Ultimately, he sees himself venturing into movies – and at this rate; it is only logical to see him achieve this within the shortest possible time.
In all of this, Fahd fears about the future, and prays that whatever he dreams of, comes to reality, since he does not own his life!
From using toy cameras and people’s mobile phones to take pictures for fun years ago to being a part-owner of a multimedia company doing great things in the arts sector Fahd Mahama is certainly headed for the top…..and he is only 21!
The world is his oyster!
So next time you want to have that relishing photograph or have an audiovisual history of your event, Fahd is the go-to destination.