Now in its eighth year, the Chale Wote Street Art Festival in Accra brings thousands of people to Ghana’s capital for around a week of festivities, including film premieres, skate shows, gallery shows (more than 200 artists exhibit work), and music and dance. For days, the historic Jamestown neighborhood, which served as the city’s bustling port on the ocean and now is home base to scores of fishermen, is packed with people partying in the bright sun. “Our vision is to cultivate a wider audience for the arts in West Africa by breaking creative boundaries and using art as a viable form to rejuvenate public spaces,“ says the festival’s statement of intent.
It is, to say the least, an electric affair, made all the more thrilling by the eclectic street style all around, including the many outfits both traditional and non- that honor the region’s great history.
Stephen Tayo, a young photographer from Nigeria, has been gracefully documenting West African style for some time, but popped up at Chale Wote for the very first time this year. “There is so much amazing history in Ghana, so I wanted to document and understand more about what’s going on in this country,” he says. “The main thing was to tell an African story in a very genuine way.”
So what was the overall vibe at the massive festival? “I think the idea was to steal the show,” Tayo says. And that, surely, is an understatement: Tayo captured kids with neon-green hair and nose rings; with paper clips hanging from their head, or head-to-toe white feathers; or with the simple, showstopping colorblocking of bright yellow overalls with a kerchief perfectly tied around the neck. “I just wanted to capture style, identity, beauty,” Tayo says. Mission accomplished.
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