One of the biggest highlights of this year’s Chale Wote Festival was when a group of young men and women enacted the slave trade that eroded the fabric of African society centuries ago.
The actors were chained and had their skin smeared with what looked like yellow powder as they marched on the street led by their colonial master while flawlessly interpreting how our ancestors were tortured and transported from their native lands to America and Europe.
Patrons at this year’s Festival lined up by the street to catch a glimpse of the short drama, which emitted many emotions as a way of paying homage to all black races subjected to this torture.
The trans-Atlantic slave trade, also known as the Atlantic slave trade, involved the transportation of enslaved African individuals by slave traders primarily to the Americas. This trade was facilitated by European slave ships that followed the triangular trade route and utilized the Middle Passage. The trans-Atlantic slave trade spanned from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
The majority of those who were transported were individuals from Central and West Africa who had been sold by West African slave traders to Portuguese, British, Spanish, Dutch, and French slave traders. Some were also captured directly by slave traders during coastal raids.
European slave traders would gather and imprison the enslaved at forts on the African coast before transporting them to the Americas. With the exception of the Portuguese, European slave traders generally did not participate in the raids due to the low life expectancy for Europeans in sub-Saharan Africa during the period of the slave trade.
The Chale Wote Festival is an annual street festival held in Accra, Ghana, with the aim of fostering cultural exchanges between local and international artists and patrons. Since its inception in 2011, the festival has featured a diverse range of activities, including street painting, graffiti murals, photography, theater performances, spoken word, interactive art installations, live music, sports, film screenings, and more.
The festival’s first two editions were one-day events, while subsequent editions in 2013 and 2014 were two-day events held in September and August, respectively. In 2016, the festival expanded to a week-long event, with activities taking place not only in Jamestown but also in other art spaces such as the Nubuke Foundation, the Museum of Science and Technology, and the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel. The upcoming 7th edition, themed “Wata Mata,” will continue this format and expand to other areas of Accra, including Nima and Osu.
The festival is produced by Accra [dot] Alt Radio, with support from local cultural networks such as the Attukwei Art Foundation, Foundation for Contemporary Art Ghana, Dr. Monk, Redd Kat Pictures, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Ghana Tourism Authority, Ghana Museum and Monements Board, Korley Klottey Municipal Assembly, Institute français, and Lododo Arts in Ghana.