A acclaimed international arts festival takes place in Accra, Ghana every August for the last 5 years. This year,I had the privileged of attending Chale Wote Festival in the form of movie screenings, panel discussions , theatre and the grand parade that showcases live art pieces, music, precessions and trade shows.
The festival often takes place in Jamestown, Accra, one of the oldest districts in Accra and home to the Ga people of Accra. Many art dealers, filmmakers, musicians from the contient and the rest of globe make their way to Accra to participate in this festival. The main theme of Chale Wote 2017 was “Mami Wata” that illustrates stories and visual of water and its impact to humanity. I really admired the choice of theme as I have only known Ghanaians to describes “Mami Wata” in negative terms while I hear other diasporans embrace the water goddess.
The official event we had attended was discussion on Rachel Dolezal at the National Theatre. Let me tell you, how much I disliked this discussion piece. I felt the speaker had done very little research on her audience and the way her presentation was illustrated as if she was about to talk to Black students in the state of California. In Ghana, Rachel Dolezal means something much more and worth exploring, yet, the conversation did not leave room to transition into something meaningful. Overall, it was not my best Chale Wote event and there was general consensus among the audience with my opinion. I hope the organizers of the event, used that event as lesson learned in vetting speakers for next year.
Luckily for me, I had a friend in town who was showcasing her film, Shadism which explores a form of discrimination, not by one race against another, but by people of colour against each other. The beauty about her film is I could really see how much it connected to the audience more than other films that evening. This is not a bias statement as I believes shadism is a deep issue plaguing Ghanaian society and I felt it was the right audience to ask critical questions in overcoming this obstacle. Kudos to Nayani.Click here to learn more about her film
Lastly, I attended the parade on Saturday where we witnessed many processions, checked out some cool art pieces, participated in a women’s march and in the evening there was an concert showcasing artists on the continent. The Young African feminists march was the highlight of the day as we chanted out what it means to create safe spaces for women even at festivals. I could see a lot of people who were annoyed with our message and presence but luckily for us, we were protected by the Ghana police who are armoring us with their presence.
Overall, Chale Wote Festival was a highlight to my living in Ghana, as I was able to participate in a festival made by youth for youth. It has been a festival I seen online for a few years now and it gives me a reason to continue to promote Ghana as a next destination to check out.