James Town is now the official capital of cool after a successful second edition of the CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival. Between the Light House and the old Kings Way building next to Ussher Fort, visitors got an epic street art tour featuring Accra’s most progressive artists collaborating with a host of international participants. What was obvious were the variety of styles of the murals and installations spread across the streets and the definitive new pop art culture on the rise within Accra.
Graffiti art lovers got more than their fill watching Kwabena Danso and Takoradi-based Ian Quhachi spray out the Ghana Space Station inside the old Kings Way building which also doubled as the official party lounge with Kobby Graham, Jason Kleatsh (GALT Faculty), BBrave (Akwaaba Music), DJ Kev and SanSe (Heavy Warmup) manning the DUSTLYVE DJ booth. These fellas dug out phenomenal music set after set for the large eclectic audience that turned up for #Chalewote2012.
The artist collectives in Accra have a lot to be proud of, as they have now proven the existence of their own counterculture – one that is edgy, vibrant and extremely innovative. Visual artists from the Foundation for Contemporary Art Ghana (FCA) created a vivid maze of painting on huge plywood boards, on the street and sidewalks. The WEB (Young Designers Hub) held a do-it-yourself accessorizing workshop for festival patrons and showed their wares off in the Designer Digs Tent.
For visitors who hadn’t experienced experimental theater, Bibie Brew’s New Morning Café, James Town-based theater troupe ACT for Change and the international dancers of InsidetheMoskitoNet were eye openers for the crowd. Rolla Wondaland, Flat Land Boys Biker Crew, Riclils Acrobatic Troupe and Circus Ghana performed some gravity defying stunts leading up the very spectacular Bivouac procession by the blue men from Generik Vapeur.
The world-traveled street art company from Marseille, France, Generik Vapeur, rocked James Town like never before. Hundreds of people crowded around the blue men as they banged out boogies on oil barrels along High Street and made their way to Mantse Agbonaa for a spectacular finish. Even the traffic stopped to see what the blue men – including 12 volunteers from Alliance Francaise and James Town – would do next.
The Winneba Masquerade Parade was also an undeniable attention grabber with 36 members – brass band, colorfully bejeweled dancers and stiltwalkers – hightailing it up and down High Street and throughout Mantse Agbonaa for throngs of excited onlookers. The masquerade even included an awesome azonto breakdown that really got the audience moving on their feet.
The festival ended on a high note with a live music concert in Mantse Agbonaa featuring the latest and greatest artists on the indie scene in Accra. James Town champs Bukom Dancehall, Powers and King Jay held it down for their homefolk. Jojo Abot captivated the people with her jazzy, AfroBeat sonic flow. XFM’s Badboy Steloo + Yaw P performed their Ga + Twi electronica mashups. The SANKWAS Bois teased and toyed the audience with their witty pidgen lyricism. Nigierien band – Juberu and – brought some serious bass funk to the party that had the crowd jumping and shaking about. FaintMedal, the pidgen rock + rap collective, turned the CHALE WOTE live music party out with hard-hitting melodies, spitfire delivery and psychadelic guitars.
If there is any indication that Accra is on the rise, it is partly because of the dedicated work of those who organized CHALE WOTE 2012. The festival was powered by ACCRA [dot] ALT, a cultural network that promotes alternative music and art events, with a host of collaborators throughout the city. These partners include The French Embassy, Institut Français, Alliance Française, the Millennium Cities Initiative, DUST Magazine, the Foundation for Contemporary Art Ghana, Dr. Monk, Indomie, the U.S. Embassy, Lincoln Community School, Trashy Bags, NandiMobile, Pidgen Music, JustGhana, Attukwei Art Foundation, Studio Kurtcyz, among others.
For more information on CHALE WOTE 2013, stay tuned to this blog!