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Chale Wote Street Art Festival at Black Star Square

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The 13th Chale Wote Street Art Festival moved to the iconic Black Star Square this year.  It was a dynamic celebration of contemporary art, from Monday, August 21 to Sunday, August 27, 2023. The festival is one of Africa’s most vibrant street art events.  With a theme rooted in commemorating over a decade of iconic public art interventions by African artists, the 2023 Chale Wote Street Art Festival marked a significant milestone. The term “Chale Wote,” which translates to “Friend, let’s go” in Ga, the language of Accra’s indigenous people, has become synonymous with flip-flops. The festival, extending its reach beyond creative boundaries, aimed to cultivate a broader audience for the arts in West Africa.

For the first time, the festival shifted its venue to Osu, one of Accra’s oldest neighborhoods dating back to the early 19th century. Osu, a vital part of the city’s commercial and cultural landscape, boasts a rich history rooted in the settlement of Ga fishermen in the late 18th century. The iconic Osu Castle, built by the Danish in the 17th century, stands as a testament to the community’s historical significance.

The festival’s new perimeter at the Black Star Square in Osu featured open-air mural exhibitions by leading Ghanaian and international artists. The artwork drew inspiration from the rebellion of enslaved Afro-Brazilians in 1835 Salvador Bahia and their triumphant return to present-day Ghana, Togo, and Nigeria. The narrative unfolded as a musical theatre piece titled “MEMORY MOVEMENT FREEDOM,” performed by community-based performance groups, dance troupes, and brass bands.

Highlights of the festival included live murals by the Ghanaian art collective AFUABE, detailing the Gold Coast’s resistance against colonial invasions. The program encompassed performance art, graffiti, music stages featuring 120 musicians and bands, LABS, salons, design, photography, processions, street theater, and the SHIKA SHIKA Art Fair, showcasing independent artists at the Christianborg Castle.

Chale Wote Street Art Festival also incorporated the Chale Wote Film LABS and knowledge-sharing salons, offering digital art and photography training sessions. The festival provided an opportunity for visitors to book walking tours exploring historical sites and buildings within the Osu community.

The globally acclaimed Highlife Café made its debut at the Black Star Square, complemented by the Accra Cookout, serving the city’s favorite dishes and unique delicacies. Supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture, Ghana Tourism Authority, and other partners, the Chale Wote Street Art Festival at the Black Star Square and Christianborg Castle became an unforgettable multi-disciplinary art experience, bringing together the industry’s biggest acts and fostering a deeper connection to independent art production in Africa.

Ivy Prosper

Digital Creator, Writer, Producer, Speaker