Chale wote!

To the non ga speaking average Joe the word chale wote will just mean nothing but the flipflops that have become so popular as bathroom sandals – sandals people wear to their bathrooms whilst cleaning up.

The etymology of the word is said to be derived from its literal meaning ‘Charlie let’s go ‘ where any close relation or friend will fit the title or name Charlie .

So I believe that when friends had to casually walk away in very informal situations they just needed to put their feet into any form of slippers and these flipflops were very convenient and comfy hence they became known as such .

In recent times though Africans have become more Afropolitan in their lifestyles, thinking and behavioral manners such that there must necessarily be a distinctive African identity to every single action be it naming a child, having a meal or in this case having a street festival.

The chale wote street art festival I think was aptly named because the idea was born out of making and exhibiting art on the streets of Jamestown to showcase indigenous art and blend with the beautiful culture of the Ga people.

Over the years however the festival has evolved into a total showcase with local youth groups especially trick biking, Rollerblade and acrobats amongst others have put up displays to at least get the attention of the visitors to the festival and make some coins.  The whole festival has become a cottage industry for the whole of the Jamestown community.

Daily economic activities shoot up during the festival. Public bars, cafes, pubs, kenkey sellers and general foods sales go up because the festival attendees have to eat and drink etc. Seamstresses and artists around even if not participating in the festival get discovered as well as the fishmongers and fishermen get attention too.

The festival itself attracts artists and people who want to showcase their wares and therefore mount stands at the festival. There are fashion items, art works and even general goods and some services, the latter especially with technology.

Best of all, in a world where connections be the order of the day, the street festival makes a meeting point for people from all walks of life and in various fields and stations in life. The festival proves to be a meeting point for people who want to go into various fields and ventures and also meet people of similar interests probably to form partnerships and alliances for various projects. Others too meet up for the fun of it.

Social media has made it easy for people to connect and the virtual world is so engaging that some people get so close without really getting to know each other physically. With the prevalence of Whatsapp, Hangout, snapchat,  Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms that track movement and information sharing, a festival like the chale wote street art festival provides the avenue for people who hitherto connect only on social media to connect physically.

Chale wote 2015 happened to be the most crowded and most hyped event due to the promos on social media and this year it was bigger because there were more activities and more sponsorship from media houses with more people involved including volunteers for the event. Furthermore the traditional state had a part to play in it because it fell within the period of the Ga Mashie annual homowo festival of which the people of Jamestown are part of. Thus there was a colorful procession of the chief and some of his entourage, with drumming and firing of musketry, through the middle of the festival and the cultural display was evident.

Everybody had a reason to be at this year’s festival and it was kind of overwhelming nor the first timers and for those who have been before, it was as exciting as ever. Technology was evident with the drones taking aerial shots, a tech company provided free Wi-Fi, companies displayed products and services, artists showcased their works exhibiting in the streets, others showcased their talents with their painting of murals on the walls or on the street floors, designers showcased their creations, cyclists and Rollerblade boys exhibiting their talents, Deejaws showing skill, providing beats to freestyle rappers and singers and friends meeting each other both local and international at the festival, all the while the people of Jamestown going about their daily routine like there was nothing going on.

The chale street festival 2015 has come and gone and it was pretty exciting. If you missed it please “chale wote” (friend let’s go!) to  the next one, at least to support the local art(s) which is what the festival is about in the first place.

Take that first step which is a commitment to be at the festival and like I always say it begins with YOU!!


One Response to “Chale wote!”

  1. […] chale wote street festival this year was a carnival on its own and the crowds that were there was proof to […]

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