Friday, June 8, 2012

Chale Wote

Wow. It’s been over a month since the last update. But really, when you think about it, at this point my life has fallen into the basic routine that everyone follows everywhere—work-eat-sleep-repeat. So unless something breaks me out of that routine, or I have some sort of cultural run-in that makes me look like a fool, I don’t really have anything to write about. Right?

 Don’t get your hopes up though; I don’t look like a fool in this story…well…at least not any more than usual.

 As I get better acclimated with Accra, and all of its neighborhoods, I am starting to find the places that I really enjoy. For example, I love going to Nima, even though it’s very far from where I live, because the majority of the population is Hausa, which is great language practice. It also makes me feel like less of a failure because I really have not learned much of the popular languages in Ghana, like Twi or Ga. And, as an added bonus, if I go there for work, I can rub it in my colleagues faces that understand and they don’t (for once). Sounds spiteful, I know, but around the office they have started pretending to talk about me in Ga, just to get under my skin.

 But my favorite neighborhood, so far at least, is James Town. If Accra was a microcosm of the US, James Town would be NYC. There’s ALWAYS something fun going on. Whether it’s a festival, party, or just an ad hoc gathering, James Town is the neighborhood that never sleeps. It’s also one of the oldest neighborhoods in Accra, and it used to be the main harbor before Tema harbor was constructed, so there is a lot of history to it as well.
Let’s do history first!

 As far as the historical sites go, the lighthouse is probably the coolest. Built by the British during their colonial rule, you can go all the way to the top and get a great view of Accra. There are also two forts in the vicinity, James Fort and Ussher fort, but Ussher Fort is the only one that allows visitors. It also happens to be where Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first President, was held captive. There’s been talk of Ussher fort being converted into a museum, but that has yet to happen.

Because James Town used to me the main harbor, there are some remnants of the slave trade as well. Most slaves from Ghana passed through Elmina, which is an island West of Accra, but some slaves were transported from the harbor in James Town. One of my friends has told me that there are underground tunnels connecting Ussher Fort with the harbor, used to transport slaves from the cells to the boats, but I have yet to see any of those. The harbor itself is still very active, not so much for shipping anymore, but for fisherman and crabbers! It’s pretty fun to walk down the breakwater and see all of the fisherman and their giant nets. The boats they use are these little pirogues… I have no idea how they don’t capsize out in the choppy ocean, but somehow they manage.


Now for the festival!

I think the pictures can pretty much speak for themselves, but the Chale Wote Street Art festival is a combination of visual art, fashion, music, and street performance—including some very impressive acrobatics and different types of dance. Needless to say, it was a lot of fun.


Looking forward to seeing everyone in July!! Bye for now.

No comments:

Post a Comment