The 2022 Chale Wote Street Art Festival was on Monday launched with a meditative procession through the streets of Jamestown, a suburb of Accra.
A traditional priestess with her acolytes, draped in all white linen and adorned with strands of purifying green leaves, led the pouring of libation to begin what was distinctly a spiritual undertaking.
Before the procession, a drum and dance ensemble from the Cultural Centre, in their traditional “Fugu” apparel, kept the ancestral memories of the people of Ga Mashie alive with ecstatic dance moves.
The procession, among other things, highlighted the complex history of Jamestown and its central importance to the making and development of Accra and the diaspora.
On a day like that, the history of the enslaved who had walked through the alleyways of Jamestown to ships on the shores, is remembered.
Thus, the long ceremonial procession, which had two-time Grammy nominee, Rocky Dawuni, and other diasporans partaking, moved all the way to the Ussher Fort – the ancestral home of the people of Ga Mashie – where some invocations and the pouring of libation was made.
Chale Wote Street Art Festival is an alternative platform that brings art, music, design, dance and performance out onto the streets.
The community-based festival is an annual event, which takes place in James Town one of Accra’s most historic communities and targets exchanges between Ghana-based and international artists creating and appreciating art together.
Mantes Aryeequaye, Festival Director, Chale Wote Street Art Festival, said this year, organisers were exploring oral tradition and literature as an artform on the theme: “Stargate of Africa.”
He said the annual festival was positioning African oral history to open opportunities and ideas for the development of the African continent.
In its 12th cycle and 11th year, he said the prospects of Chale Wote had been tremendous as it had brought thousands of people onto the streets of Accra and Ghana, translating to direct jobs for people through vending and exhibition.
“The festival has been transformative for the over ten thousand businesses that have benefited from the festival activities over the period. So, in essence, it has been transformative for the city of Accra and for Ghana. It has been transformative for the artists who have been involved.”
Some artists were spotted busily working on some imaginative paintings in anticipation of the arts exhibition and the festival.
For Mr Nicholas T. Wayo, an artist, what inspires his piece of art is life, and that he has learnt a great deal from life as each passing day comes with it new challenges and experiences.
“I realise most of the time, especially here in Africa, we judge by appearance, and I want to spread that message to people not to look like the way we look,” he said in an interview with the Ghana News Agency as he explained an artwork with three women in masks.
Nico Wayo, as he is called by his fellow artists, said physical appearances were not enough to judge an individual, saying “when you look at the three beautiful women with the mask on, you see beauty. I don’t look at the beauty from the outside, I look at the beauty from the inside because the beauty outside eventually fades with age but inner beauty forever remains, that is the spirit.”
Asked what motivates him in his art, he said: “So long as I live, I always want to do my best to use my brush and paint to touch lives, to encourage, to motivate. I started painting in 1995 and till date, I’m still painting, and I want to keep on painting until my last breath.”
“Art is life and life is art, nothing is done without the art, everything is part, communication is art…” he emphasised.
Nana Yaw Ananse, also an artist, said the theme for the art piece was “Poor, Pure, Power into the future” as he pointed to a painting on the 2022 Chale Wote theme, Stargate of Africa.
“Chale Wote this year is going to be massive and it is just about the art. The feedback is positive,” he said.