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Ghana: Chale Wote street arts festival 2021 holds amid covid restrictions

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RUTH MCDOWALL/AFP or licensors

Ghana

Chale Wote Street Arts Festival, is an alternative platform that brings art, music, dance and performances out of the galleries onto the streets of James Town, Accra.

The vision is to cultivate a wider audience for the arts by breaking creative boundaries and using art as a viable form to rejuvenate public spaces. The festival tells the African story in unique ways.

For a decade, the old Ussher Fort prison on the Attah Mills high street has played host to the week-long street art festival. In one of the cells is 24-year-old Charity Debby Akiiti, the only female among scores of male artistes.

"This room is supposed to be called chaos. That was the theme I used last year. But the general theme for this year is patikiremote. Its talking about erm, the life cycle off humans and we involving to becoming new" Akiiti showed reporters.

She is participating in the festival for the fifth time but she commenced her personal exhibition virtually in 2020. She uses great imaginative skills to create all manner of fine arts works, using any material.

For other artistes, the walls and cells of the old Ussher Fort prison remained as backdrops to exhibit their breath-taking arts pieces. But the number of art performances and thought-provoking art pieces, also filled the entire old prison yard.

"It’s a community that is developing and it can only develop through arts culture, and culture maintenance. And we saw it of all hope" Franlin Gawua himself an artist explained.

Though the global impact of covid 19 on businesses has affected efforts to celebrate the tenth edition of the popular Accra Street Arts festival, Chale Wote, some artistes and patrons defied all odds to attend. but these artistes, including Charity Debby Akiiti, would have their expectations cut short when four organizers of the event were arrested by the police for an alleged breach of some covid 19 restrictions.

Once a small artist-led festival with experimental beginnings, Chale Wote is now an established tourist attraction. The festival relies on volunteers and offers no funding to participating artists, but it now attracts thousands of visitors each year.

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