In many ways, Accra is what you’d imagine a growing West African capital to be. There’s a CBD with towers owned by banks and swanky hotels, cheek-by-jowl with unmettled streets of dwellings made with corrugated iron roofs. There’s colour, heat, people balancing baskets of produce on their heads as they walk on incomplete pavements, hawkers at traffic lights, and chaotic food markets. If you want items crafted out of wood, kente cloth, and to be confronted with your Northern wealth, you can have that experience if you’d like. But to do so would be to miss out.
‘We ran the festival to break down barriers, to engage people with a broader vision’
The main road into Jamestown, one of the oldest – and poorest – neighbourhoods in Accra, runs along the coast. There’s a striking lighthouse on the point at Ussher Fort, and the walls of buildings erected in colonial style in the slave-trading years of the 1800s are covered in brightly painted murals and graffiti. Along this stretch is the JamesTown Cafe, restored by its architect owner as a cafe and a hub for creatives, hosting regular radio broadcasts, art exhibitions, and live music performances, as well as serving food and cocktails throughout the day and night. It’s a bustling spot, and it’s where renowned photographer Nii Obodai decided to establish the Nuku Photography Festival, Accra’s first, last autumn.