I’d be terribly remiss if I didn’t mention Chale Wote, the annual street art festival started last year by Accra[dot]Alt, a collective of young and entrepreneurial artists based in Accra who are doing awesome things to promote the arts in Ghana.
The Chale Wote festival is an extravaganza of collaborative art-making, music, and performance held in Jamestown, a historic and relatively poor area of Accra. I love their philosophy that art has an important place in public space and that it should be accessible to everyone.
As promised, there was cool art.
And impressive performance art.
Also, lots of art activities and workshops for the swarms of children.
And great food and drinks. (I had an amazing veggie burger! Not an easy thing to find in Ghana..)
And Rich and I took a tour of the Jamestown Lighthouse, with its spectacular view.
Generik Vapeur was the feature act, held at the end of the afternoon. I’ve never seen artists work with performance space and audience participation in the way they did; they used the street, barrels, shipping containers and the onlookers themselves to create performance space and manipulate the response of the audience, doing things like rushing forward with the barrels in front of them like battering rams, forcing the audience to run alongside, moving the entire performance space down the street at full clip.
This may be a stretch, but some of the imagery they used – like the men carrying the barrels in single file, hunched under the burden, and one man lashing a barrel that had been made to resemble an animal with a chain and shouting orders – reminded me of images of slavery. Jamestown is the location of one of the most significant slave forts from the Gold Coast slave trade, and the arc of the performance itself seemed to suggest some of the contours of the slave trade’s history.
After Generik Vapeur’s climactic finale and a couple of hours of messing with uncooperative electronics (the power went out), Jojo performed three beautiful songs. Here’s one that I recorded, an original called “Heavy On The Inside”:
And I found out that Ghana has a rock band, or so say the members of Feint Medal, which is as far as I could tell sort of a party onstage with a sort of Limp Bizkit sound, plus some rap, some emo and some awesome Ghanaian cultural references.
This is a good post to mention that there are tons of amazing bloggers here in Ghana, and many of them also featured stories, photos and video about Chale Wote. Check them out if you want to see more:
- A great post by Victoria Okoye on the ways Chale Wote promotes community development
- Gorgeous images of last year’s festival on Scrambler
- Some nice photos and commentary on Generik Vapeur’s performance