Last weekend in Accra, was quite exclusive after ACCRA [dot] ALT hosted one of the biggest arts festivals on the streets of Jamestown. Events like these do not happen that often in the city or even Ghana. The arts festival brought together many people from just arts and music lovers to artists, filmmakers, writers, musicians and students, young and old together in one of Accra’s oldest districts, Jamestown. The festival was hosted by ACCRA [dot] ALT, the French embassy and Institut Francais with sponsorships from the Ga Mashie Development Agency, the Fund for Contemporary Artists (FCA), JustGhana, Pidgin Music, Attukwei Art Foundation, The WEB, Ehalakasa Poetry Slum and DUST Magazine. The group is a multimedia platform that encourages the exploration and experimentation of art–photography, film, performance, music, writing and design.
The arts festival included street painting, roller blade/skate stunting party, stencil work, sidewalk painting and chalk art, graffiti friezes, drumfunk bass, live music performances, sketches, fashion, art workshops and exhibitions. The festival had a lot going for it, just like the diverse arts being displayed; there were was a huge diversity of people from different cultures, race, social backgrounds and interest groups. The people of Jamestown were not left out of the euphoria in their land. Accordingly, it was great to see the locals fully engaged in the activities, whilst in my view they entertained us the most. The name of the festival – CHALE WOTE means “Man, let’s go!” or is a reference to flip-flops worn in the heat in Ghana. The word Chale Wote resonates the significance that, each of us comes from different walks of life but we all have something valuable to give.
It was interesting that, just as anyone will be convinced the arts festival was foreign, this is one of the few shows that obrunis and expats did not outnumber the locals. Chale Wote was really for everyone; the locals loved it, the obruni’s were thrilled, the art lovers were inspired and the Jamestown kids were not left out either. Even the recent road expansion will not prevent a traffic jam, as motorists try to catch a glimpse. You had to have some kind of abilities to concurrently experience all the arts going on in almost a single place.
For my friends and I it was also a great opportunity for us to learn more about Jamestown (Accra’s oldest distirict) and its great architecture and landmarks like the James Fort, Jamestown Lighthouse, Ussher Fort among others. The heat and the crowd throughout the day did not deter us from joining in the fun. Personally, I have always admired Jamestown for their great architecture, traditions and above all the people. I will like to say thank you to the people of Jamestown for allowing us into their beautiful community last weekend. On the note, I hope the government and other private entrepreneurs will consider in investing in this area for its enormous tourism potential. I must say, I am inspired and encouraged by the shared energy and passion of ACCRA [dot] ALT. Next time you visit Accra do pass by Jamestown to see the paintings and artworks which will always be in the memory of these people.