Chale Wote 2017 is Finally Here: #WataMata

Yaaaaay! Chale Wote Street Art Festival is here again! This year an array of Artist Labs are followed by a weekend of public street madness in Jamestown, Accra, Ghana.

The full program (PDF) that this year has the theme of “Wata Mata” (Water matters? Word play with “Mami Wata” the female deity of the sea) is totally overwhelming and massively impressive, but I am especially looking forward to…

Sat 19 August, 2017

  • Dzala Butiq Art Sale
  • The Accra Cookout international food court
  • The Mami Wata Procession

Sun 20, August, 2017

  • April Bey’s workshop on printing
  • Deo Gratias Photo Studio Open House
  • The Wata Mata Procession
  • High Life Cafe Stage program with Ria Boss and Wanlov


Perhaps most I am excited about the overall creative environment with surprises around every corner.

Looking forward to sharing it with you on social media – hashtags #ChaleWote2017 and #WataMata.

See you there!


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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.


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Chale Wote 2014 – For Us Who Were Not There

In August, the Jamestown area of Accra is blessed with the Chale Wote street art festival (“chale wote” is slang for flip-flops). It is a vibrant, exciting and young event – I’m sad I was so far away this year!

However, Mesh Ghana provides a vibe from the festival in less than two minutes. Thank you!

Safari on the Blog was also there and took some amazing photos.

Credit: Safari on the Blog

See you there next year!

Posts from earlier Chale Wote festivals 2011, 2012, 2013


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Chale Wote 2013 (No Photos)

This weekend Chale Wote Street Art Festival took place in Jamestown, Accra. I have written about it here and here. The experience is overwhelming and as most modern human beings equipped with a camera, how we deal with it is: We take photos.

I myself took probably around 100 photos and that meagre number was because I was hindered by my energetic two-year-old to whole-heartedly focus on capturing images. I mean, the frames have everything! Dancing children, handsome young people, city folk going about their business, bright colors, Gh celebs, exotic vendors all on a backdrop of a charmingly decaying historic town set on a scenic cliff overlooking the ocean. There are breathtaking contrasts between poor and rich, crazy and sane, landfills and palaces, heritage and ruins, locals and visiting hipsters…(although there are the occasional creative overlap). Now, I have not even mentioned the fab street art…

However, apart from being the photo op of the year, some meetings with people on the street lingers on. Last year, by mistake, I invited myself to a Jamestown funeral and met some lovely people and had some great food (but that is another story), and this year I think one particular meeting with two ladies will stay framed in my mind. I was walking on High Street in the hot afternoon sun carrying my child, Ghana style, on my back. Two ladies walk in the opposite direction, maybe on their way to a party, both visibly dressed up in colorful fabrics, heels and gold chains around their necks.

– Oh, African lady! The ladies call my attention, but when I stop, quickly proceed to talking to my daughter.  Suddenly, they turn to me again:

– What are you doing here?

The question is a bit aggressive, or is it playful? I can’t tell.

– I am here for the festival, the two day arts festival, here in Jamestown! The Chale Wote festival?

The ladies show with their blank faces they have not heard of it. Or maybe they are busy deciphering my accent. But the “Chale Wote” makes them react.

– Chale wote? Chale wote?

This common nickname for the cheap, plastic flip-flip sandal many Ghanaians wear seem an unlikely name for a festival the ladies’ faces say. And they ask me a good question:

– Why “Chale wote”?

I think the few minutes passing between the ladies stopping me to talk and the final failure of me explaining why a cheap shoe is the symbol for a festival in their home town (“Chale wote I only take to the bath! Never when I leave the house!”) was art, street art at that. While the British flag proudly meets the wind at the many kings’ palaces in the area – “this is British Accra” the locals often say – the foreigner, then with the gun, now behind a camera, never really captured the place.

I am grateful to the Chale Wote Street Art Festival for graciously including me both as a spectator of and an actor in some exciting street art and for me to ponder the question: Why is an everyday item symbolising a spectacular break from the everyday life? (Yes, of course also “What am I doing here?”, needless to say!)




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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!

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Chale Wote 2012 in Photos

I took my daughter and two friends to the Chale Wote street art festival. From the youngest (9 months) to the eldest (40ish) in my little group, we had a lovely afternoon, complete with running into friends, making some new ones and for lunch we were invited to a local funeral!

Everywhere you could see artsy types with cameras and I was proudly one of them. This is what I snapped:

Also read about Last year’s Chale Wote festival.

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