An Endless Sustenance
by Akosua Koranteng
Two things I live on and that give me sustenance in the 3 months I spend in Ghana a year: The Arts and Plantain.
Initially I thought writing about these two things there would be no correlation between the two, but in further thinking- I think Ghanaians will agree with me that plantain is a sort of art on its own.
Plantain is a "banana like" vegetable that can be found all over the continent and is a staple food in the Ghanaian diet. There are many ways to eat and prepare plantain which is why this famed starchy food it is somewhat an art of its own.
When you come to Ghana one of the first things hawkers will offer to sell you on the streets is a packet of Plantain Chips. This is plantain cut in very thin slices and deep friend in oil-my personal favourite. Then there's kele wele, which is plantain that has been cut up into small cubic pieces and seasoned with hot spices like pepper and ginger then deep-fried. Yum. Then there is good old straight up fried plantain for the purists and grilled plantain for those weight conscious people.
It doesn't end there, plantain is also used in the pounding of Fufu, where it is mixed with other vegetables like coco- yam and when pureed and mixed with flour, plantain can be made into little "Kaklo cakes." I'm sure by now you get the picture- however plantain is prepared, you're bound to find your taste of plantain in all its variations, much like Art.
Accra has a feast of Arts to feed the soul.
There are a handful of organizations and collectives such as Accra dot Alt, Alliance Francaise and The Studio that make sure that the Accra calendar is full of Arts and Cultural events all year round. If you're around in August check out the Accra dot Alt Chale Wote Street Art Festival. From its humble beginnings the festival now attracts thousands of people from all over the world who come to observe and showcase visual, performance and musical arts. Taking place in the heart of James Town, Accra's historic quarter and week after the Homowo Festival of the Ga people, it’s a great opportunity to witness the beauty and energy of this coastal community and take in an array of aesthetic experiences from the fishing boats lining the sea to the murals and street arts on the walls of historic James Town buildings.
In November, be sure to attend the Sabolai Radio alternative music festival. This festival, also organized by the custodians of alternative arts and culture in Accra, Accra dot Alt, is an opportunity to witness the richness and diversity of local music talent in Ghana.
During the week, make sure to get down to Osu on a Wednesday night to Listen to some live music at Republic Bar and Grill. This local watering whole adorned with vintage pictures by famed African photographers like Malick Sidibe and portraits of celebrated pan Africanist heroes such as Kwame Nkrumah, Muammar Gaddafi and Miriam Makeba, is the perfect place to soak up the historic cool of Accra. Don't leave without ordering a Kokoroko, one of the many cocktails on Republic's menu inspired by locally invented beverages. The sweet taste of Bissap (Hibuscus Juice) mixed with rum and whatever magic they put in that glass of goodness will help you dance to the sound of Afrobeat all night long.
Check out some work of local artists at the Artist Alliance Gallery, Nubuke foundation gallery and The Studio. Here you're bound to find works of local art rock stars like Serge Attukwei Clottey, Ibrahim Mahama, and Isaac Opoku.
Love hip hop? Keep track of what's happening on the Accra Hip Hop scene via Yoyotinz, an online platform created to showcase all things Hip hop in Accra. Be sure to also check the Alliance Fraincaise D' Accra cultural calendar to see what amazing concerts, theatre shows and more are happening at the Alliance Francaise amphitheater.
Dance your demons out at Kizomba nights on Wednesday nights at Afrikiko- Don't worry about having all the right moves, there will be plenty of friendly people on the dance floor willing to teach you.
So in short what do you do in Ghana? Eat Plantain and enjoy the sights, sounds and movements of the city.
About the author: Akosua is a Ghanaian born South African who is currently finishing her Master’s in African Studies at the University of Cape Town and also runs her own natural hair and skin care company called AKAN Organics. Fanon is her first true love and her ultimate goal is to spend most of her time reading, writing and travelling Africa.