Sunday, 15 April 2012

M.J, Generik Vapeur & Kwame Nkrumah rock Chalewote Festival 2012

Congratulations once again to Accra [dot] Alt and the French Embassy for making it happen this year too. Too many people wanted to piss on the event but they didn't succeed. Art in Ghana is seeing a renaissance and nothing can stop it; not even the proverbial iceberg that sunk the Titanic.
Kwabena Danso and all the artists who did these graffitis on the wall surely deserve some award.
I don't know who this guy is, but he obviously couldn't read the graffiti on the wall :)
I wasn’t keen on attending this year’s Chalewote Festival. I've deadlines threatening to swallow me up.
If you're scared of kaakaamotobi(masquerades), then this was the wrong place to be

 I received an email from a good source, telling me there was going to be some blue men from France known as Generik Vapeur, coming to perform with barrels and a live band. That was a good bait.
If you have your binoculars and can zoom in, you'd see Nyani Quarmyne and his family chilling down there
We were chilling at the serene Osikan beach when we got the news the blue men were already on the road.



From last year’s experience I knew there was no point in getting there on time. As innovative as the festival may sound, it is after all, a Made in Ghana product. I found my way to the place by 3pm. Good timing in deed.
I wonder if Kwame Nkrumah & Haile Selassie's families receive royalties from all these artists


The first person I saw was my ever illusive French teacher. She went to Gabon for Christmas holidays and she only pops into the open in April. She was with two friends who are both fans. After chatting them up for a while, I saw a procession of bare-chested Ga women, flaunting boobs of all shapes and sizes, most of them having been forced by gravity to point southwards. Right in the centre of their procession was a coffin.
I thought he was one of the bluemen but it turned out his name was Bond. James Bond.
It looked like a fetish priest or a devotee to a shrine had died. I quickly lifted my camera and took some shots. I was quite happy with myself because everything was working out great. After a few more unbelievable shots, I decided to chimp a little and see how lucky I had been so far. I look on the back screen of my camera and to my utmost disbelief, it read “No CF Card”.

This guy's bike was on a bench. You can't see it in the silhouette. Sorry.

At that moment, I felt like the biggest fool in the world. How on earth do you shoot for 30 minutes without chimping? This is 2012, not 1945!

For the non-photographers among us, chimping is the medical condition where after each snap, a digital age photographer turns over their camera and checks from the back screen if their image is nice or not. It is often accompanied by funny sounding giggles like the kind made by chimpanzees. Hence, the name of the condition. For that short moment,  I wish I suffered from the condition too. It would have saved me 30 good minutes.

More Sacrabodo and tings

Fortunately, Accra High street is the stronghold of Ghana’s okadas (taxi motorbikes). I hopped on the back of one without even bothering to ask for a helmet and quickly dashed home.
The crazy rider made me remember every single reason Nyani has given me for why one should not ride a motorbike in Accra.
This drama group had a performance on Biometric Registration. Bibi Brew was in the backgrounds


Shortly, after my arrival, I run into the sage whose voice had haunted me on the motorbike, Nyani kitted for war. We joked about my absurd tendency to shoot whole events with one prime lens. This time, I had a 35L on a 5D Mark II. He had at least 3 lenses and a light metre. We split after a couple of jokes and I run into Nii Obodai. He had a Leica M7 and a 50mm lens with a broken filter.

And she popped up here too, right behind this woman who danced to Amandzeba's "wo gbe djeke".

You thought M.J. was dead right? Apparently he's popped up in Africa and is now black again.

The beautiful thing about photography is how well advanced and developed a language it is. There we were, three different photographers with three very distinctive styles. 


The last photographer I run into was my assistant Daniel. He was there shooting with a Fuji X100. Now, I miss using one of those. My photos from last year’s festival were shot on one of those. The new X PRO 1 is tempting but so is the M9.


Honestly, I don’t think I did justice to this year’s festival. I had little energy to keep going up and down the Accra High Street like a Fanti ghost in dilemma but I did the best I could under the circumstances.

I must add that I run into a lot of young, up and coming photographers too. Unfortunately, I remembered more faces than names and did my best to speak to everyone. If I didn’t speak to you, forgive me. It wasn’t deliberate… and I would encourage you to keep shooting.



Thanks for reading and have a great week and remember, it's okay to slow down sometimes.

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