Chale Wote is a Ghanaian term for “chale let’s go”. It’s also a term used to refer to flip flops to connote the casual setting of the art festival. The Chale Wote Street Art Festival is an alternative platform that brings art, music, food, dance and performance out into the streets. Over the last six years, Chale Wote has completely transformed the city of Accra into the cultural production hub of West Africa. By engaging artists within the city, the festival has given Accra a facelift, revealing interconnected collectives working in multidisciplinary practices that form the pulse of CHALE WOTE. The week long community-based festival takes place in James Town in Old British Accra – one of Accra’s most historic communities – and targets exchanges between scores of Ghana-based and international artists creating and appreciating art together.
ACCRA [dot] ALT, REDD KAT Pictures, Accra Metropolitan Assembly, Attukwei Art Foundation and Dr. Monk at the forefront of this phenomenon executed the Seventh Annual Chale Wote Street Art Festival which held from August 14 – August 20, 2017. Eccentric contemporary art, graffiti on the walls, film screenings and open mic sessions, were featured at the events emanating from an avalanche of Ghana-based and international artists like our very own Osa Seven, Eric Gyamfi, Ehalakasa, Kwameboafo, The African Body Snatchers and so so so much more.
WATA MATA (West African pidgin for “Water Matter”) was the theme of this years exhibition with over 11 locations throughout the city witnessing and joining in visual art exhibitions and installations, performances, film screenings, artist exchanges, tours and mixers. WATA MATA is the end of a trilogy that began with the festival theme of African Electronics in 2015. It signified a collective capacity to regenerate our lives into deeply imaginative and cooperative ways of being. There are specific methods of visioning, inventing and thriving that exist in the world and the artists that participated in this year’s festival shared their creative strategies and interpretations on making freedom dreams, particularly within volatile and limiting places.
It would have been (and still feels like) an anomaly to envision that art in whatever form could be a melting pot for various cultures, beliefs, ideologies and dispositions especially in Africa. But in recent times, it has proved over and over again to be our reality. Loamy soil discloses to Culture Custodian that Chale Wote was filled with “so many human beings”, to which our response was “Nigerians will not allow you people rest”. This banter just proves the erosion of differences in our ethnicities and cultures as we are slowly actually becoming ONE. Africa really is reaching the world through art in its numerous forms -Music, Film, Fine Art, and Food. As a continent we can only look forward to propagating the reality and good news of our originality while at the same time helping Ghana understand that Nigerian Jollof is superior. Nigeria 1- Ghana 0.
The footage in the video recaps key events from CHALE WOTE 2016.
Photo Credit: Twitter: @chalewotefest