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Four Word Story: Chale Wote Street Art Festival

                                

Walking through the streets of Jamestown was so different on April 14. It wasn’t a normal Saturday afternoon for me. It was one that gave me a lot of inspiration. It was the second edition of the Chale Wote Street Art Festival.

The festival celebrates the vibrant art traditions of urban life from visual media, experimental theater, and dance installations to extreme sports. It’s a very “young” festival since most people in the country aren’t aware of it.

For those of you who don’t know, chale simply means “friend” in Ghana and “wote” is a Ga word meaning “let’s go.” When you put both words together, you have “friend, let’s go” and that’s certainly what happened when I decided to go to the festival with some friends.

The Chale Wote street art festival taught me a few things….

#1 Chale, there are talented people in Ghana.

It was very easy to see talent all around. I was astonished at how some young guys could paint. Did I say guys? Maybe I am supposed to say boys.  The streets of Jamestown were painted. Some were done on wood and hung along the roadside. There were guys on skates doing dangerous tricks and they were incredible even though I feared for them most of the time. Don’t mind me…. I am just like that when it comes to people’s safety and health. There was a musical concert in the evening.  There were some technical hitches but that didn’t stop the event.

#2 It’s time for Ghanaians to embrace Ghanaian stuff

I am a huge fan of African fabrics, bracelets, shoes etc. I find it astonishing when people ask me sometimes why I wear them. You will never find me going “Britain” throughout the week. A few weeks ago, I was working at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital and decided to pass by the Cultural Centre to get a new African-printed bag. There was an exhibition so the stuff was pretty affordable. Unsurprisingly, I met more foreigners than Africans or Ghanaians. I really don’t know why we don’t like our own stuff. I don’t know why we don’t write our own stories. I don’t know why we don’t promote our own culture. I don’t know why we don’t love ourselves enough to love our own things.

At the Chale Wote Street Art Festival, you could see foreigners more enthused about Ghanaian dresses, bracelets, anklets, necklaces than the citizens. They love stuff made in Ghana… while we cherish those made in China. I just implore my fellow Ghanaians to love Ghanaian stuff a bit. Chale, the country is for us oo…. We are the only ones who can make it better.

#3 There’s another fun thing in Ghana and this time…. It’s free.

Christmas, Easter, Independence Day… oh let me take out Independence Day. It’s really celebrated by the Ghanaians abroad. Those of us over here don’t care about it, right? If yes, I believe there is only one thing that gets Ghanaians excited…. Football or let me say “The Black Stars.” That’s the only time the nation goes agog especially after a victory. The Chale Wote festival is another opportunity for many Ghanaians who want to have fun but have limited options.

#4 Chale, we are gradually placing Ghana on the world map.

Ever heard of the group, Generik Vapeur from France? Yeah, they were there and that was the climax of the festival for me. They are usually called the “Blue Men” and they brought more fun to the festival. Having such a group at the festival meant a lot to Ghana and the organizers. Tourists visit the country each and every day. Soon, Ghana will be on the list of Lonely Planet’s top 10 countries to visit. We can do it and we must. Check out more incredible photos by Nana Kofi Acquah on his blog.

Big ups again to Accra [dot] Alt and the French Embassy for making it happen this year too.

I hope to see you next year at the festival. Can Ghana be the top country to visit? Let’s hear from you.

From Accra with…….filth!

Accra needs clean water

They say cleanliness is next to godliness but I bet that doesn’t apply when you get to Accra. The millennium city is gradually becoming a hub of filth. Did I say gradually? Oh no, it isn’t gradually, it has always been a place of filth. As one drives from Korle Bu to Chorkor and then to Makola, there is a “sweet” smell that engulf the whole neighborhood.  People defecate in the Korle Lagoon in style. Filth is the order of the day. I have come to realize that, it’s all about money for certain people in the capital. “Let’s just forget about cleanliness and focus on business” is the maxim.

Even at Korle Bu which happens to be one of the finest hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa, there is filth everywhere. Close to the College of Health Sciences Administration block, a mini forest of filth is observed. Medical students are surrounded by filth. I will find time to talk about that later. Accra is being “swallowed” by cholera.

Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio Cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission is primarily through consuming contaminated drinking water or food. The severity of the diarrhea and vomiting can lead to rapid dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Primary treatment is with oral rehydration solution and if these are not tolerated, intravenous fluids. Antibiotics are beneficial in those with severe disease. Worldwide, it affects 3-5 million people and causes 100,000-130,000 deaths a year as of 2010.
Current statistical data on the cholera outbreak in the Greater Accra Region indicates that 4,190 cases had been recorded, with 36 deaths. The breakdown shows the Accra Metropolis is leading with 3,207 cholera cases and 33 deaths, while the Ga East district comes second with 473 reported cases and one death. Others include Ga South, with 119 cases and one death; Ga West, 253 cases and one death.

Adenta, Ledzorkuku Krowor and Tema, recorded 38, 62 and 28 cases respectively, with no deaths. Furthermore, the Dangbe West district had 6 cases, followed by Ashaiman with three cases, while the Dangbe East district, recorded only one case.

At the La General Hospital on Monday, cholera figures were up to 357 in the first quarter of 2011. Out of the 357 cases, January documented 49, with February recording 147, and in the month of March alone, the number increased to 161 cases. Samples taken from 19 cholera patients revealed five of them tested positive, with two deaths. The case of fatality is 0.56 per cent.  The La General Hospital is currently treating cholera patients from 50 areas within the Accra metropolis, including cases from Cape Coast and Kasoa. The La community leads the chart with 153 reported cases, followed by Nungua with 46, Osu, 41, and Teshie 33 as of last week Monday. That is the situation in Accra and do you want to know the prevalence rate in Kumasi? Bet you do! Kumasi has not recorded a single case of cholera in the past 3 years. Accra is suffering from cholera because of filth. The A.M.A cannot do this alone. It behoves on all the inhabitants of the capital city to observe cleanliness. The quest for money should be directly proportional to the love for good health. Health is wealth!

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