The creation of kayayoo rising

Dr. Joseph Oduro-Frimpong Forward writer
Naana Adofo Research Assistant
Eno Abena Effah Editor and Introduction Writer
Abeeku Acquah Video Creator
Rowland Opoku Book designer
Victor Gadabor Website Developer
The research work that inspired the project

The project follows the findings of the academic work presented by Rose Aba Dodd at the University of Cape Town Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy and Practice in 2021. Dodd’s work used a phenomenological approach to draw out the factors of consideration necessary for sustainable program and policy design that impact the livelihoods of the Kayayoo urban immigrant for a more positive response to programs.


It provided an in-depth view of the study population’s interior experiences and actions. It brings meaning and additional insight to the partial overview presented in current studies, which is more representative of their exterior lives. Kayayoo rising adds “nuanced research sensibility” to this scholarly work and uniquely extends Dodd, 2021.


Download the original work: a phenomenological approach to profiling the life experiences of Kayayoo in Ghana by Dodd, 2021.

The organisation that introduced us to kayayoo’s world

Kaya ChildCare (KCC) was established in 2017 as a registered non-profit in Madina in Accra. The organization provides quality early childhood education to the children of Kayayoo in Accra under the age of 6. KCC believes that every child, regardless of background, deserves a good foundation for education. For the over half-century in which the Kayayoo profession has existed, no intervention in child development has targeted their 1 to 6-year-old child caught up in the mother’s urban-migratory lifestyle.


This leaves their early development and school readiness to chance. Considering the profile of the urban-poor Kayayoo woman, KCC has developed an intervention to supplement the mother’s effort in childcare to ensure that the struggle of urban poverty and frequent migration does not adversely affect the child’s later education.


The model uniquely meets the lifestyle and working conditions of the Kayayoo mother whiles ensuring quality early childhood play and learning content is available for their children. It gets the child out of the busy market while the mother works gives the mother the peace of mind to grow her business, and provides adequate early childhood development to make the child school-ready using the learn-through-play method.


Read more about KCC.

Conducting the interviews: An anthropological process

This project about Kayayoo (head porters in Ghana) complements prior works surrounding the lives of this population by providing a social anthropological visual narrative about these urban workers. In social research in general and social anthropology in particular, photography plays a useful role as both sources of information and objects of research. […] Photographs as a form of visual narrative, can become audible taking into account when and where they were taken and by whom.” (P. Sasanka, 2019).

Our goal was to present scholarly work through documentary photography and creative writing in a photobook. And to do it in a way that challenges the “expected” narration of the Kayayoo’s life.

Read the methodology.

Meeting the families
Sakogu is located in the Northern Region. It is approximately 145km from the capital of Northern Region, Tamale. Due to the small population, many young women journey to major cities in search of employment income as Kayayoo.
Savelugu is a town and the capital of Savelugu Municipal in the Northern Region. It has a population of about 38,074 (2012). Savelugu hosts the largest market district which serves as the main trade point for farmers in and around the district.
Madina is the 12th most populous settlement in Accra, with 137,000 people per the last census. It is a metropolitan city that reflects many large cities in the Greater Accra region of Ghana and hosts the Madina Market, a prominent destination for Kayayei in Accra.
Janga is a locality in Walewale, which is located in the Northern region of Ghana. Janga is a small population and the major cities closest to it include Tamale, Kumasi, Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso and Djougou in Benin.

Behind the scenes shots

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