Why I Attend Chale Wote Street Art Festival!

Spirit robot partIn August CHALE WOTE is coming! The street festival enters its fifth year with the awesomest theme ever: SPIRIT ROBOT! It just does something to my imagination: spirit! robot! 

The festival has been announced to run from Aug 18-21 with LABS @ CHALE WOTE on Aug 18-19. I understand that as the main, public part of the festival is the weekend 20-21 August, 2016. Location: Jamestown, Accra.

I will be going to the festival with my entire family. I am especially looking forward seeing the festival through my now five year old child’s eyes and seeing my teen relatives’ reactions. Personally, I am attending for the people, the art-meets-community, the fabulous fashion, the street food, and the general feeling of marvel.

Do you not also want to be part of the Chale Wote Spirit Robot?

Spirit Robot is described like this on the organiser Accra Dot Alt website:

 In 2016, we ramp up the energy of CHALE WOTE by building a universal TRANSmitter  – a singular architecture – that we call SPIRIT ROBOT. This immersive memory-tech presents a world within a world where life can be structured on different terms.

CHALE WOTE 2016 exists as an interconnected system of pan-African geometry shifting. SPIRIT ROBOT  is a sacred current that decodes worldly systems of racist capitalism, alienation and subjection. SPIRIT ROBOT mutates these frequencies as a way of creating new histories, art and knowledge.

Robot points to mechanical forces that restrict our right to be human – to feel and to express – and to be free. Robot signifies the machine – the myriad constraints that people of African descent on the continent and around the world confront on a daily basis with our very lives. SPIRIT ROBOT reprograms history by melding West African mythology, cosmogramming, and artistic practice in a radical unveiling of alternative African realities. Together we animate stolen dreams, deferred inventions, and lost science through an intercultural kinship. We reclaim memory maps about who we are and where we are going.

What we are speaking of is Spirit – a collective creative process that is human and metaphysical, potent, available and abundant. Spirit is on the move through a series of portals – doors of persistent return – that open up a blueprint for radical reconstruction of our realities and pan-African building.  It refers to the energetic abilities we employ to create a new encounter with reality that is entirely of our choosing and construction. Here we access liberating spaces of art and possibility, embedding our codes of connection in a live archive that we continue to build upon.

How do we create intentionally coded spaces – an algebra of minds – that can be grasped and shared? In 2016, we build bridges of possibilities between us, connecting our visions of reality with one another and the challenge to dig deeper. Stretching these projects together into a meta-network is an act of deep engagement with community, and an exercise in countering historical forms of hierarchyexclusionfracture and disharmony.

With SPIRIT ROBOT, we construct and amplify our own technologies to create a spectacular present where are we free .

See my earlier posts on Chale Wote Festival 2011, 2012, 2013 (no photos), 2014.

 

TEDxAccra: Re-Think. 3 things I look forward to

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This whole week I have been hearing the build up buzz on TEDxAccra. With events every night culminating in Saturday 23rd all day at the National Theathre (Ego tickets here, although many categories are SOLD OUT!) ,the organising team has succeeded in taking over social media. I have seen the #TEDxACCRA2016 trending for days!

I have sadly been to busy to go to any pre-events (another exciting one on Women’s contributions to Economy tonight), but will be spending my Saturday at the main event. Specifically, I am looking forward to:

  1. Hearing Lucy Quist, CEO of main sponsor Airtel. She is a leadership supernova in Ghana, but manages to also be approachable and informative.
  2. Being introduced to other amazing speakers and getting to know their work which I’ll then share with my followers. (Follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram @kajsaha)
  3. The networking. I love to be among young change-makers and doers!

Hope to see you tomorrow!

PS. If you can’t come, you can stream it live!

Top Three: Cafes in Greater Accra

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D Cafe

When this chain first came to town, it meant the world to me. A place where I could go an temporarily be European over a coffee and croissant. The Airport branch opposite the New Koala Supermarket has the most interesting crowd. There is also one at Marina mall and one in Labone. Great and super quick sandwiches, coffee is ok, croissant wobbly quality. Sadly, it has become very expensive.

My typical order: Cappuccino and Roast-Beef Sandwich on brown bread. 37 GHS
Vida E Caffe
This new chain has swooped in with their Portuguese manners – they greet you loudly when you enter and exit! – and make excellent coffee, especially several cold versions that are delicious. Initially their sandwich and pastry section was bleak, during my last visit they had upped their game. Locations at the Junction Mall, opposite the national theatre, Spintex road,  and two branches in Airport City.
My typical order: Latte Grande with a Glaced Donut. 17 GHS
Cafe Kwae
In Airport City, this Ghanaian-owned gem offers salads, light lunch, and coffees and pastries, all very affordable. Cafe Kwae  is also the only cafe to offer Wi-Fi free of charge. Circumspecte and Francis Quarcoopome/Time Out were also here.
My typical order: Cappuccino (comes in a huge, yellow, beautiful cup!) and Cafe Kwae Slide (three mini burgers ) 41 GHS

This post is part of my Top Three-series where I list my favorites!

Update: Fixed the links to my fellow bloggers!

Looking Forward to An African City 2 (coming Jan 24, 2016)

Right now there is a humongous group of people ( 35 300 YouTube subscribers and counting, basically a small city!) just waiting around for January 24th when An African City, the popular web series recorded in Accra, Ghana, is back with season 2! See my first impression of season one here. Bottom line: If you love talkative women, fashion, West Africa, and a little sex…this is for you. 

Here is the trailer of An African City Season 2:

While the girls and the setting remains the same, this season, the series will not be available for free on YouTube, but through a $19.99 subscription, underlining what has said in one of the early episodes…that everything in Ghana is really charged in US dollars!

Ps. If you missed season one, it’s still available on YouTube for free!

The Junction Mall in Nungua, Ghana

We have heard about the “mallification” of Ghana! Now the turn to get a big shopping center or a mall has come to the seashore community of Nungua, in between Accra and Tema. In Theory, the Junction Mall looks like this….but what did it look like yesterday? And how was traffic? The food? The service? Here is my review!

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Design from builders RMB.

The space
The space is big 11 500 m2, beautiful, lots of parking and I was happy to see trees planted. The mall is a U shape with double rows of shops and the “middle” only covered with roof. It was nice in the evening, maybe hot daytime? There was also a nice playground for kids.

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The shops
I saw the usual shops we are now used to Mr Price clothing, Shoprite ( food/department store), Telefonica, Nallem clothing, Bata shoes. New additions were South African low cost chain JET, a Techno phones, Lego ( Danish toy for kids), some other clothing shops. Really, only about half the shops have yet opened.

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The traffic
When a mall is named “The Junction Mall”, one has to be worried about traffic! Why is it even allowed to build a mall in a junction. On a Tuesday evening around 6 pm it was fine, however, but there is just one entry/exit point so I worry…

The food court
Not everything is opened yet, but there is a cosy Barcelos (see photo below) and a Chicken inn/Pizza Inn/Icecream Inn. I also saw an Italian pizza place that looked promising! but no stylish restaurant or bar? No cafe? I must say I was a bit disappointed by the eating options!

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The service
It is difficult to know what are permanent issues and what are just we-are-so-new-and-stressed issues, but parking guards made an initial weak (immovable?) impression, and in none of the shops any shop attendant spoke to me. However, at the food court, staff was alert! But then the women’s bathroom had no water nor could I lock the booth…

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To conclude, it is a promising space, much will be determined by who comes to open shop there. The design seems to be climate appropriate and the detail of living trees I know I will appreciate when they will shade my car as I shop!

Read also my review of Marina Mall.

Upcoming BloggingGhana Events!

BloggingGhana feb 2014BloggingGhana had a wonderful meeting in February (see photo above) and when looking forward, many exciting things are happening: BlogCamp is around the corner, we are getting ready to move into our new Social Media Hub (see the film here!) and soon new executives (maybe you?) will steer the ship!

Here is a list of important dates:
 
March 
Sunday 23, 3-6 PM March meet up – our first meeting in the new hub! (From now on we will meet there unless otherwise indicated!)
April
Saturday 5, 3-6 PM, Pre-BlogCamp Event with guests
Sunday 6, Midnight, Deadline for Executive nominations (form to follow) and proposals.
Saturday, 12 All Day BlogCamp and the Social Media Awards!
May
Sunday 11, 4-6 PM, Annual General Meeting (AGM). Come and vote! FOR PAYING MEMBERS ONLY, pay by April 12th to participate! Membership details here.
 
Please RSVP to events and find more details on BloggingGhana’s FB page!
This post can also be found on BloggingGhana’s blog.

 

Road Tolls and Accountability: The Hole(!) in the Accra-Tema Motorway

I probably should not write this as my parents will be worried when they read it, but the Accra-Tema motorway (or Tema-Accra motorway as we who live in Tema call it) is falling apart.

When I drove to work on Tuesday, I was halted by some serious traffic after just a kilometer or so. I assumed it was one of the common accidents, but was surprised to find the traffic was caused by a hole in one of the bridges on the motorway. The water below could be seen through the hole…

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I subsequently tweeted a warning:

All traveling from Tema to Accra, be careful as one of the bridges, right lane, has a big, gaping hole! @Citi973 @BloggingGhana

— Kajsa Hallberg Adu (@kajsaha) March 11, 2014

As I returned home in the evening around 8PM, the traffic now stretched from the hole all the way to Tema. I tweeted that too:

This evening the #motorway hole caused major traffic…what is being done? @YoungSirGh @BloggingGhana @police_gov_gh @Citi973

— Kajsa Hallberg Adu (@kajsaha) March 11, 2014

This morning, I set my alarm to 5.30 AM to “dodge” the traffic, but was still caught for 30 min by it and tweeted that too (that is what I do when stuck!)

Today’s “hole traffic” already winding on the Tema side of the #motorway @RichardDelaSky @BloggingGhana @InformGhana pic.twitter.com/D2jQUqVHLk

— Kajsa Hallberg Adu (@kajsaha) March 12, 2014

I was happy to just minutes later hear the CitiFM Morningshow crew bringing the issue up and even calling the Minister for Roads and Highways for an explanation. Driving on the Accra-Tema motorway is not free, I pay toll every time I enter, so does everyone else. Finding that the road is not well maintained, that street lights and railings which get hit never are replaced and  holes in the bridges (not the first time) makes me angry! Where is that money?

They are now going to do repairs, but morning show host Bernard Avle asked an important question:

“What is the status of other bridges on the motorway?”- @benkoku @Citi973

— Kajsa Hallberg Adu (@kajsaha) March 12, 2014

As I drive on the motorway everyday, I would like to know. I think my parents would like to know too.

Earlier posts on the motorway: New Ghana Road Tolls Today, One Year of Road Toll in Ghana: My Experience and Kwame Nkrumah: The city of Tema (part 2).

 

 

ALERT: Chale Wote 2013!

ALERT. ALERT. ALERT. Do not miss this year’s street art festival in Jamestown in Accra. Happening this weekend, 7-8 September. Find (printable) program here (PDF). Personally, I find it hard to chose among the many events, but will likely just go and stroll around with my family and enjoy the surprises around each street corner…

This minute-and-a-half video gives you a feel of the amazing event.

Superproductive art collective AccraDOTAlt are the organizers. This year, BloggingGhana is among the official collaborators. Other involved partners are: REDD Kat Pictures, Acrilex, Urban Republic, FashionistaGH, and Ghana Urban Platform.

Chale Wote 2013 is the third flamboyant, spectacular and fun yearly festival, see my posts from 2011 and 2012.

See you there!

The Ashaiman Spring, BBC Africa Debate and African New Middle Class

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On Monday, drivers in the town of Ashaiman started a protest against the horrible state of the roads in the community. Daily Graphic reports that as early as 5 am, protesters had blocked the roads and by 6 am they had reahed the Tema motorway, taking over toll booths and blocking traffic to and fro Accra.

What is Ashaiman? It is a residential town where many workers of Tema (the industrial city) and Accra (the capital of Ghana) live. Although rent is cheaper here than in the neighbouring cities, many of Ashaiman’s inhabitants have to endure long hours of commuting. Although its population is twice that of Tema, it was only 5 years ago it got its own municipal district and local assembly.

Every day on my way home to Tema, I have to cross the traffic queues leading to Ashaiaman that is situated on the other side of the Tema motorway from where I live. Only crossing Ashaiman traffic many times takes upwards 20-30 minutes. As I later breeze in the opposite direction, I see people walking towards Ashaiman moving faster than the traffic all the way to the central part of Tema.

The MP of the area, Alfred Agbesi and the Municipal Chief Executive, Numo Adinortey Addison were accused by the demonstrators of not doing their jobs – providing better roads! – but could, according to the same newspaper, “not be reached for their comments”. However, the newspaper also reported “policemen and soldiers managed to bring the situation under control after 4 hours of violent protest…[and] would offer 24-hour patrol to residents and commuters”.

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Today, I took part in the internationally broadcast BBC Africa Debate together with a delegation from Ashesi University College. The background of the debate “Can the middle class drive growth?” was both Obama’s travel to the continent, supposedly to augment trade, and the African Development Bank’s report on the New African Middle Class (PDF). Interestingly, the AfDB’s definition is people who spend 2-20 USD/day per capita. That means, just after the poverty level (less than 2 USD/day) comes now “middle-income”. This was debated along with what government needs to do and what we as individuals can do.

During the debate, the recent Ashaiman demonstration, called “the Ashaiman Spring” by some, was not mentioned, but maybe it should have been? Here we have people who have jobs, pay taxes, dutifully go to work everyday even when it means hours in traffic morning and evening – but not benefitting much.

All public amenities in Ghana need back-ups: water (buckets and poly tanks), education (private school if you can afford), health (herbal traditional medicine or private health insurance), electricity (candles, batteries and generators), waste collection (burning in your backyard), but poor roads are difficult to create your own private alternative for…

The representative from the AfDB concluded the debate by graciously admitting their definition of middle-class only talks about spending, but does not include living costs. We are many who know by experience that living a middle-class life in Ghana demands much more than a middle-class income and plenty of patience…

Listen to Ghana Connect on JOY FM Friday 28 June at 6.30- 7.00 PM for more on the “Ashaiman Spring” and BBC, 7 PM GMT for the full debate!

 

My Visit at iSpace – A New Home for the Tech Community in Ghana

The other day, I had the pleasure of meeting Fiifi Baidoo and Josiah Eyison of iSpace Ghana. iSpace is an idea of bringing together the tech community, social entrepreneurs and related folks, like bloggers in Ghana. iSpace is also an amazing space on the fifth floor of a building between the buzzing Oxford street in Osu and the La Beach, it offers lovely views and –  by the end of this month –  office, meeting and lounging spaces for the community. 

iSpace collage

Clockwise from “noon”: a view of the full space with assistant Dorcas at the front, Josiah at the conference room glass wall,  view(!), me flanked by the iSpace guys and in the middle Josiah describing the plan and Fiifi listening.

I walked away from our first meeting impressed by the vision (“in two years we have out-grown this space”) and the social concern (“we are doing this so that we can come together and solve Ghanaian issues”) and I can definitely see how BloggingGhana members can use this hub.

Eric Hersman, or White African as we know him, says about tech hubs in Africa:

“The tech hubs in Africa provide a home for those with new and innovative ideas, create an atmosphere where they are encouraged to try new things, and most importantly are able to meet like-minded individuals they can grow with.”

To sum up, iSpace is wonderful news for a community that is growing stronger by the day, but until now lacks a space to come together! 

Read also Edward Tagoe’s informative post on iSpace,  iSpace’s website  or Google+ page. Other African tech hubs are listed with AfricaHubs.

Hipsters in Ghana: Part 1

So, a Swedish friend of mine wrote an article about how politicians can learn from hipsters. For those of you who do not read Swedish, his argument was basically that even though hipsters might look silly and obsess over city farms, homemade bread and vintage clothing – they offer insights into sustainable living of the future. As I complimented hom on the interesting frame (learning from hipsters), he responded with a question: How is it with hipsters in Ghana?

Well, let’s back track and fist find a definition for hipsters. Urban Dictionary thinks it is:

 a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.

So, are there hipsters in Ghana?

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I guess that depends on who you ask. Candance (who recently moved to Ghana from the US) for instance recently commented that on Instagram that she was at a Ghanaian farmers’ market with NO HIPSTERS!

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But that might just have been due to language. That market likely wasn’t called a “farmers’ market”. And how will then hipsters know it’s a place for them?

But when used clothes are called “Vintage”  as well as when social media is discussed, hipsters do show up, also in Ghana. The indie scene in Ghana, in my humble opinion, is flourishing with TEDx events (read about TEDxOsu here from just this past weekend), AccraDotAlt’s TalkPartis (and check out these great hipster photos!) and Jungle Music Festival Asabaako where the Ghanaian hipster community discuss art, listen to local DJs play indie music and eat local foods. However, the best place to spot hipsters in Accra is at The Republic Bar, where local spirits blended into great cocktails meet nostalgic decor. Does it get more hipsterish?

Yes, the hipster scene in Ghana might be small, foreign inspired and sometimes elitist, but I think  – just like my Swedish friend – we can learn a thing or two from hipsters and their obsessions (for instance The Republic Bar manages to have the best AND cheapest cocktails in town as they use local ingredients).

What did I forget about the hipster scene in Ghana? I will gather your comments and write a follow up post as soon as my homemade bread has risen. 

Photo collage trying to prove my point with photos from Facebook groups for Vintage Gh and BloggingGhana.