I’m not a Ghanaian but I found myself bursting with pride when I looked at these marvellous photos by photographers Nana Kofi Acquah, Francis Kokoroko,  Gerard Nartey, Kwesi Black, Gary Al-Smith and Emmanuel Bobbie. They document the recent Chale Wote Street Festival. If you don’t know what this was read about Jemila’s post Taking Accra By Storm, Chale Wote Style!

The festival initially felt like a treasure hunt. We walked the long road hunting out the pockets of artistic activity. Wherever crowds gathered, and wherever we saw obronis, we rushed over to discover what was occurring. This unpredictable, surprise quality made it enjoyable. The programme predictably ran late but who was rushing? My only regret was that my old legs couldn’t hold out to stay for the evening concert and missed Yaa Pono and Trigmatic. Still I felt privileged and excited to have been part of it.

There is a rapidly developing cultural scene in Accra but this was unique in that the art was taken into the James Town community. Well done to accra[dot]alt coordinators Mantse Aryeequaye and Dr. Sionne Neely and I look forward to its continuation and growth in the future.

I was therefore disappointed to read a scathing and cynical review of the festival by the respected blog Holli’s Ramblings in which she seemed to have missed the festival all together.

The issues she raises are important. I suggest she poses a false dichotomy between food and art suggesting that culture is a luxury item when people need rice. It is rather an extreme portrayal of the people of James Town (who are not starving Africans) and negates the important role culture already plays in their lives. It also ignores the fact that many of the artists were residents of James Town. She focuses on the sponsorship of the French embassy ignoring the organisational role played by Ghanaians in an attempt to put a cynical light on the event. Please read her post and look at her carefully selected photos contrasted with photos of the event listed above. She labelled the event a predictable failure. Agreed, the event had its difficulties, and there could have been more events, but, in my view,  it was a promising and enjoyable beginning.

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