The Chale Wote 2016 Festival & a Fresh Perspective on Ghana
I'm Tayo aka Pelumzee. I'm currently in a relationship with digital marketing but Photography is my main side chic. Dancing is the side chic really. I'm an art lover (all forms of art) and I love to share my view of the world with you through my lens (and possibly through writing).
So I have been to Ghana twice. First to Cape Coast and then on a work trip but let me say that in this new era of the Ghana-Nigeria twitter war and such, I decided to experience Ghana and have a feel of Ghanaians and not just live off the bants on Twitter because ignorance isn’t bliss!
A perfect opportunity came in the form of Chale Wote Art Festival which took place between August 15th - 22nd. It was an opportunity to experience the Accra side of Ghana which is probably just a pinch of what Ghana has to dish - but would do for now. Afterall, the war is Lagos Twitter versus Accra Twitter.
Packed my bags, got my goons Lara and Mushu and we were on the road. Yes, road! (don’t ask me why, it is part of the experience chale!). 10 hours and 3 borders later, we were in Accra. See, if you haven’t gone by road before or you haven’t gone at all, I totally recommend it. Long journey but with the border stops and great company, you won’t feel it that much.
Anyway, let me go straight to this point I’m trying to make. The few mental notes I made about Ghanaians and other things in the few days I was there.
1. Ghanaians are polite and respectful: Even in a crowd of people, someone hits you and still says sorry. They do not insult you for pricing their market anyhow. Passengers in the bus do not shout at the mate (conductor) anyhow no matter how many times they have asked for change and he hasn’t given them. They also have respect for themselves, other people and human life. No matter how hurried you are, the cab man will not drive more than 80 kmph so you better plan that into your journey. Well, I never asked them to go faster so…
2. Ghanaians are hospitable… too nice: Well this sounds similar to the first point. You really cannot get lost around Ghanaians except you shut your mouth. You ask and they will direct you and almost take you there sef. It doesn’t cost them anything. My friends and I took ‘tro-tro’ (danfo bus) mostly and it was solely based on directions from people around. They will willingly give you phone if you are stranded sef. They are nice like that.
3. Ghana is chilled! Very!: Maybe to a fault but it's good. Nobody is chasing anybody. Nobody is in a silly hurry and hooting ‘upandan’ like a nuisance (well except you are at the top of the queue at the traffic light and you are not moving on green). Like, they are really just chilled people! 50kmph people. You know that your mate in school that has done so well for themselves and is looking all fly and pepper don rest well? That is Ghana and Nigeria’s relationship! The gap between their money and our money is too appalling *Ghanaian accent*. Everything seems expensive in Ghana when you convert (it was 1 cedis to 100 naira) but ‘eez awa money dat get fot’.
Now a bit about the festival
Think of the Chale Wote festival like this. Imagine the entire Broad street, in Lagos is blocked off and there are artworks everywhere. Graffitti on the road, walls, canvases, all sorts of selling and buying of artsy stuff. Yeah, that’s how it was. Jamestown where it was held reminded me so much of Obalende/Eko. Walking through Prof Atta Mills street from display to display, I was trying to think if we have anything similar in Nigeria because Lagos Carnival doesn’t come close to Chale Wote and the traffic of foreigners it brings in. It was interesting to see people’s interpretation of ‘Spirit Robot’ which was the theme of the festival.
Ghana (Accra) is relatively safe. Imagine hundreds of people in a frenzy, bodies clashing with little to no space for free movement, up and down with phones, cameras and all sorts of gadgets at 8pm without flinching or fretting. Day 1 in that crowd, I was worried. Bags in front, camera tucked in, phones held tight, etc. Day 2, I didn’t even send again.
Finally, let me say this: I will never slander Ghana Jollof rice again! I don’t have any memory of slandering it or maybe I laughed at the jokes but I publicly apologise. Thing is just like how you cannot get beta Naija jollof everywhere, it’s the same as Ghana. You have to get it by recommendation and not just walk up to anywhere to ‘poshaze’ it. I luckily bought one at the Chale Wote food court and I wished I had bought the cooler and carried back to Naija. I am still looking for the woman’s contact because I can fly back there just for the Jollof rice.I should go back soon. So if you want to come along, let’s plan it!
NB: The broad use of Ghana and Nigeria, somewhat refers to Accra and Lagos.
Thanks Tayo for this piece! I enjoyed reading it, and photos are so cool. Now I'm definitely looking forward to having a proper Ghanaian Jollof. We only wish you showed us a photo! Ghanaians are amazing people and I remember growing up, almost everyone had a teacher who was Ghanaian. Mine was Mr Dakwa! Yours? Ghana is def on my travel list. Tee has been there twice and he says it's a great place as well. Hopefully sometime when we have to go to Lagos, we can make a quick stop.
Have you guys been to Ghana? What do you think of the bants in general? And Ghana Jollof? Please leave a comment and let's appreciate Tayo's piece! She sent it to us because she thinks you're an amazing bunch!
You can find Tayo on Instagram @Pelumzee and follow her on her next adventure!
pS: I hear Senegal Jollof is still the best. Hahahaha.