Chale Wote – Ghana’s Street Arts Festival -Honoring The Past By Building The Future

Sometimes in life what makes my day is to hear of other people’s accomplishments. Today is one of those days. As Ghanaians & people all over the world who respect freedom & the greatness of man to bring about a global mindset toward change & freedom celebrate Dr. Kwame Nkrumah‘s 102nd birthday &  Founder’s Day In Ghana; I am delighted to hear that the young people of my Black Star Nation are Honoring the Past By Building The Future!

Ghana taking the lead from the Gaddafi led AU’s 13th Ordinary Summit in the Libyan town of Sirte, where African leaders adopted the centenary birthday celebration of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah as a continental event by stating, “We unanimously agreed to celebrate Dr Nkrumah’s centenary birthday & put it on the AU’s calendar of Special Events“, went on to  finally  take action in 2009 to make Dr. Nkrumah’s birthday a national holiday, celebrating the man, his achievements & his strong vision for a united & independent Africa. Dr Nkrumah became one  of Africa’s most prolific leaders who is celeberated all over the world from a memorial in New Delhi, India to a commemorative stamp in Russia & a New York State Senate resolution celebrating his contribution as 1 of the founders of Pan-Africanism. As diginitaries from around the world visit & send well wishes to Ghana in honor of Dr. Nkrumah’s 102nd birthday today, I can’t help but to acknowledge the elephant  not in the room,Muammar al-Gaddafi- the modern day African leader who thru Dr. Nkrumah’s influence spoke publicly in a push to carry out the vision of a United States of Africa. Today, Gaddafi has basically been deposed in the same style of people’s revolution cloaked in a western backed coup d’état that met Dr. Nkrumah. We are now left once again to look toward the future, hoping a new leader will emerge to carry the torch of a United States of Africa.

It is time to give life to the dream of a united Africa. If we could even make the regional and economic committees at the sub regional levels work, we will see a much faster progress than we are seeing today. Let Africa not deceive herself, nobody is going to move out of the front of the world queue and create space for us to take a place… We have to work together to move up the front of that queue…it was time the continent rewarded Nkrumah’s commitment to see among other things, a united Africa liberated from poverty, noting that African leaders must back their words with action to ensure the realization of Nkrumah’s dreams for Africa.” READ MORE

While politics in Africa continues to disappoint most Africans, the future is bright among the young people who refuse to have the actions  & lack of progress in African politics defer the dreams of the Africa they want to see & build. One of these young people is Ghana’s own Mantse Aryeequaye. I remember meeting & interviewing Mantse for my labor of love documentary entitled Black Star Rising. I met Mantse in Osu, Ghana in 2008 as a young writer, visionary & man about town who spoke about creating pirate radio in Ghana, growing up as a hip-hop head in Ghana & being a part of the MOP (movement of people) in Ghana who were showcasing the vibrancy of the talents & Arts in Ghana…Now fast Forward to July 16, 2011 & the dream of what the future of Ghanaian arts celebration will hold, has not only been mobilized but realized & celebrated as a movement & festival started in a small historic fishing town that will sooner than later find its global fusion in local & worldwide recognition like the plethora of established & emerging global street arts festivals that have sprouted up in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, London, Paris etc.

The name of the festival- Chale Wote geniusly exemplifies the spirit & style of Ghanaians in every way, bringing us back by taking us forward to our essence in nostalgic future! Chale Wote is the Ga word for flip-flops that all Ghanaians rock & it also translates to man/homie let’s go! The Chale Wote festival juxtaposed the best of Ghanaian fashion, music, art, culture and the new generation of sports in Ghana that is more BMX bike extreme sports than football. The beautifully raw rugged streets of  the small fishing town of (Jamestown) James Town in the capital city of Accra holds so much of Ghana’s history of greatness for producing some of the greatest boxers like the legendary Azumah Nelson-the first African Boxer to be inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame & rising stars like Joshua Clottey, along with Ghana’s Greatest Photographer James Barnor & his Ever Young photography studio. James Town is also home to Ghana’s oldest prison, James Fort,  which held Dr. Kwame Nkrumah & many of Ghana’s freedom fighters as the nation woke up, fought & regained its power against their former colonizers to elect Dr. Nkrumah as our very first president while still being held in prison.

Jamestown is located right on the Atlantic Ocean & is a lively  colorfully boisterous town with many open spaces & beautiful architecture juxtaposed with the dense poverty of economics but not of spirit ,which served to be the perfect location for the Chale Wote  Street Arts Festival!  Big Ups to Mantse & all those who dare to dream, dare to take the chance in lighting a spark that may set the fire of greatness, all those who have no fear of failure because they are too consumed with the desire of creating success, and those collectively brought together their passion to make this beautiful expression of Ghana come to fruition. There maybe some who may call you failures because they are void of the unwavering love in black star souls & are hollow without ability to soak up the idea & manifestation of potential in dreams & actions. I can’t wait to hopefully be there to bare witness to the experience in the flesh & to hopefully be able to contribute on the next go around in April 2012! CHALE WOTE!!!

The premiere edition of the CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival, held on July 16th, was a success because many people believed in a simple idea. Teamwork and artistic talent make a powerful combination. With only three months to plan and a limited budget, more than a dozen young creative professionals rolled up their sleeves and got to work on the largest free street festival to ever hit Accra. The result: a 12-hour fantastic street maze of live action art stretching from the Mantse Agbonaa to the old Kings Way building—graffiti + street painting, bike/skateboard/rollerblade street stuntin’ parties, art installations, experimental theater, a fashion circus, drumfunkbass music, spoken word, and a live music concert—never before seen on this scale in James Town. The idea began at a Talk Party in Osu back in March. The monthly discussion series is hosted by ACCRA [dot] ALT. “We were tired of talking about change. It was time to take action and generate a viable economy for art in this city. CHALE WOTE is well on its way to making Accra a cultural hotbed and international destination,” says filmmaker and ACCRA [dot] ALT producer, Mantse Aryeequaye….” READ MORE

Photo Credit: Nana Kofi Acquah

Follow The Organizers: Accra[dot]Alt

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