When the first video cassette recorders reached Ghana in the 1980s and gradually a rental structure arose for homegrown movies, in the urbane centers of Accra and Kumasi a host of mobile movie theaters started taking shape. Mobile cinema operators would travel the country hooking TVs and VCRs up to portable generators to create impromptu theaters. All they needed was a wall for screening and a couple of benches and chairs.
In order to promote these showings, artists were hired to paint large posters of the films usually on used flour sacks that acted as the canvas. The artists were given the freedom to paint the posters as they desired – often adding elements that weren’t in the actual films, or without even having seen the movies. Many of the representations are dramatically exaggerated. When the posters were finished they were rolled up and folded and taken on the road.
Although “mobile cinema” began to decline in the mid-nineties due to greater availability of television and video, hand painted movie posters continued to exist. Like India, hand-painted advertising boards for hairdresser salons, take-aways, or native healers are still very much a normal part of street life in sub-Saharan Africa.