James Town, a coastal suburb of Accra though not well known to foreigners or even to some Ghanaians, is one of the more vibrant and creative neighborhoods in Greater Accra.
You have not experienced the full diversity of Greater Accra until you have spent at least a few hours in this community which has always been hiding in plain sight, and has modestly but honestly claims of some of Ghana’s most accomplished citizens including a former mayor of Accra, a former Chief of Ghana Armed Forces and one of Africa’s most accomplished Christian evangelists.
James Town embodies a rare characteristic where individuality mixes effortlessly with the spirit of community and togetherness.
Though some upwardly mobile young Ghanaians may admit only to vague familiarity with the area, several Ghanaian luminaries spent their formative years in James Town which is now fast becoming a frequently visited tourist destination.
Two of the area’s most visited tourist attractions– James Fort and Ussher Fort are but a few of several remnants of the colonial past.
Here also lies Salaga Market, which formerly functioned as a major slave market. Today the market is a full-scale commercial center, where you can purchase: a variety of food and produce, clothing including ready-to-wear, native medicine, and household goods of every type.
While Ghana is a football-crazy society, James Town has always maintained its reputation as the top-producing neighborhood for Ghana’s most accomplished boxers.
Here you will find an abundance of boxing “gyms”, all in search of the latest standout pugilist.
Notable boxing greats who spent their formative years in James Town include the legendary Azumah Nelson, widely revered as the greatest African boxer of all time.
Since 2011, the Chale Wote Street Art Festival has been held along the main drag, High Street, with increasing year-over-year success. The event has grown in popularity among locals and foreigners alike, so much so that it is now a six-day festival compared to its humble beginning as a single-day event.
The festival is an alternative platform that brings alive the magic of art, music, and dance, and re-imagines African folktales through a variety of art forms – graffiti murals, photography displays, interactive art installations, live street performances, extreme sports stunting, African film festival, a fashion parade, a DJ block party, a beach music concert, fashion and food marketplaces.
Chale Wote means “Man, let’s go!” a reference to slippers popularly worn with extended interpretation– “each of us comes from different walks of life but we all have something valuable to contribute to the common good”. This growing yearly celebration is the result of a combination of talents, energy, vision, and love of the community of several James Town residents.
When next you are in Accra, and even if it is not during the Chale Wote festival, schedule a few hours to visit James Town, or inquire about one of our tours that explores this wonderfully vibrant town.