What I saw at the Chale Wote Street Festival in James Town

Yesterday, I run into more creative people at the Chale Wote Festival in James Town than I've ever seen in any single place in Accra.
Creativity is gradually finding its voice again in Ghana. Yesterday was proof. Poets, Musicians, Artists, performers, cyclists and all sorts of creatives stormed this ancient part of Accra and breathed fresh life into it.
The cyclists were impressive. I wonder where they train and who trains them. The atmosphere wasn't designed for conversations. The music was loud and the chatters ear-shattering. The easiest thing to do was to just shoot.
Ama proudly showed off her colourful scarf :)
Those who were too lazy to come on the streets seemed rather content peeping through their windows. I also got to briefly meet one of James Town's artists, Attukwei:
Creativity is contagious. I was really touched, just watching the kids have a go at art. Seeing some of Ghana's best artists at work, definitely sparked something in them.
The good thing with James Town is there is always something of photographic interest, whether there's a festival or not. I went through the alleys, capturing some of daily life.
It was quite interesting watching these three men read an obituary. "Who's next?" They seemed to ask:
This fridge had just pulled in for servicing. I wondered if sticking pictures of Jesus on a fridge or writing scriptures on it made it work better. Obviously, it doesn't :)
One of the signs of a good Ghanaian woman, is how white her baby's clothes, napkins and husband's "supporters" are:
Frequent readers of my blog know I grew up not too faraway from James Town. Watching these girls playing mum and cooking reminded me of my own childhood. Normally, I would play either the husband to one of them or the son of one. The husband role was always more interesting:
One of the highlights of yesterday's event was the fashion show. Somehow, I managed to miss that one. I was quite lucky not to miss these guys though:
They say, everything that has a beginning has an end. These were some of the last images I made before I coiled back in my shell:
Behind all the noise, the sea lay calmly, full of history but not divulging much. It was calming to stand in the forts and the castles and just watching the sea. We keep piling history on history... and may be someday, we'll take the time and look at all we've been blessed with as a people, all we've been through as a people and come to the conclusion that: God has given us everything we need.
Have a great week.


Teddy said…
Beautiful and colorful series, Nana......
Golda Addo said…
That last picture (the sea) is one of my favourite places, and the space right by that spot of sea is where I go hang for muse-ing time now and then.
I actually have pics of that spot on my FB.
Taken from the "balcony" of the Usher Fort.
I also came from JamesTown, and believe they have so much heritage, colour, and spice.
Nice work, NK!
Aba T. Tetteh said…
I miss the whole show. hmmmm. When is the next one.
Great pictures.
[ ] dUke [ ] said…
Wish I had gotten off my lazy, into a 5 min trotro ride and been there. Thanks for the beautiful pictures though.Wish I had gotten off my lazy, into a 5 min trotro ride and been there. Thanks for the beautiful pictures though.
Anonymous said…
Great photos!
Unknown said…
Nana, i bet you cannot imagine how cool it feels to have been right by you as you took each one of these pictures in your relaxed, unassuming manner... an intriguing technique actually, this is my second experience of your photography, live; in the first experience I was your subject, and the outcome is ALWAYS, always breathtaking...almost better than reality. But hey, i'm an artificial spirit. Thank you for your inspiring company all of Saturday. I'm glad I stepped out.
Dia&Kofi said…
love the nighttime shots

my collection:


Picasa is a horrible photo-hosting site

@ Teddy: I know how much you miss this side of home. When are you next back in town? It will be great if we get to shoot something like this together. No?
@ Golda, how come it never occurred to me you were a James Town girl? next time I see you, we only speak Ga! Aloo jee nakai?
@ Tetekai: We got invited at the last bloggers meeting. Hint Hint :)
Sorry Duke :( We missed you. Better luck next time.
@ Graham: It was great running into you :) I'm sure you had fun.
Akua, you were awesome company. We should do this more often :)
Kofi, I just finished going through your photos on picassa. I can't believe how much I missed :) And you're one hell of a shooter. Keep blazing.
Dia&Kofi said…

I am so cheesed that you're getting these brilliant pics with an advanced point and shoot, and that you didn't even use shutter priority to freeze frame these guys... Wonderful also that a lot of the shots were at ISO 100... perfect day for picture taking.

Not sure what you missed... I was only in two locations and didn't go to concert, really regret that.

You're right, it was a fun, creative day.
Kajsa said…
Thanks Nana Kofi for letting me in on this beautiful event from far-far away!
Hi Kajsa, you know I will do anything that will entice the baby to drop :) We can't wait to welcome him in our midst :) Don't ask me how I knew it was a boy.
@ Kofi: I guess it goes to prove that a lot more depends on the photographer than the camera. I love my retro x100. Nowadays, if you see me with a fat dslr and huge lenses, it means some client is paying me serious money to carry all that weight. You should try the x100 sometime. Picture quality is same as nikonD300s and co.
Dia&Kofi said…
Nana, it is built around a DSLR chip, after all, no slouchy camera... but I like the workout I get carrying the D90 around... We are dinosaurs, guys lugging all this weight around, I feel like I don't belong to the iPod generation, you've seen my stereo equipment. I'd consider x100 if I had to travel out of town or overseas... having said that, the proof definitely is in the eating and your shots were gorgeous...
Edward Tagoe said…
Same eyes, same skin, same place, yet we saw different things. hmmmmm, I guess we are different people :)
yeh said…
i know the camera doesn't lie, but I just read two exact opposite accounts of this event - here and http://hollisramblings.blogspot.com/.

That being said, I absolutely love this post, it's a really beautiful account of arts, and beauty and creativity, and somewhat inspiring as well! Love your pictures too! I think Accra needs more of this...
@ Yeh, I just finished reading the blog post you linked to. Considering all she saw at JamesTown on that day was a woman washing by some filthy gutters, it's pretty obvious she had shut down mentally, and was too prejudiced to see.

I don't want to waste my breath on her but if it stinks that bad, why is she still in this country?

I am not one of the guys who organized this event. I was quite happy to go and see these children exposed to art and entertainment. It is inspiring. 3 decades ago, I was a kid in this neighborhood. It didn't take pessimists like her to get me out of there. It took people who could inspire me to see beyond my limitations.

It was the first of its kind... and the funding, I hear, wasn't that much. Nothing in my photos is doctored. From what she makes it sound like, you'd think my photos are from a totally different event.

Exactly the kind of "obruni" these poor kids must avoid; and people like Jay must stay away from. Pls note that I have no idea who Jay is. I'm quite sad she's not allowed to marry because she got some money from some American group. It sucks.

I'm glad the French Embassy contributed to the event. What have the Americans contributed to Art in Ghana? For how much they get from Visa applications alone, they can do a little better. I can't stand the hypocrisy.
Delalorm said…
Ghana is showing the art in her that has always been there. The pictures here say it more than all the blog posts I've read about the festival. Exciting.
you have mad talent!
Excellent photos!

I especially love the boy in yellow on yellow!

You definitely caught some of the great moments. To be honest - I went at noon (since it was to start at 10am) and didn't see much of a festival.

Jamestown in itself is something to see however - so full of life!
Love the vibe..Great job
Ofosua said…
Another interesting piece. My favourite was those reading the obituary, especially the copy.
KateBomz said…
So beautiful!! thank you for these!
Anonymous said…
Nice picture which capture the beautiful event at its best
Efua Dentaa said…
Love it. Great work!
Anonymous said…
You mean Ghanaian mothers wake up at 4 am to start the chores for the day. If the men could emulate that then we could say Ghanaians work hard. The women certainly break their backs.


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