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.