I am excited. On the weekend of 4-6 March, all roads lead to Wa. It’s not every day that Wa, the capital of the Upper West Region, gets a look in, if just for a weekend on the cultural circle in Ghana.
Now, however, with the Nubuke Foundation, through their Centre of Textiles and Clay putting a spotlight on their ‘Wa Woori Exhibition of the Weaving Tradition of Ghana’, Wa is about to leap into the cultural eco-scape. The exhibition showcases contemporary and traditionally woven works in textiles, straw and reeds. I love the idea.
Wa itself has developed a lot in the last few years. I visited there recently, after several years, and I was blown away! There seem to be nothing rural about it anymore, but for its general Sahel landscape that features a sharply distinctive environment. You will still see the odd baobab tree, and the influx of the Bobo tricycles all over the place, and weaving loom stations dotting almost every street corner. There’s no driving chaos like there is in Accra, and laid-back, the city has its own pace that is so appealing.
Festivals are an “energised gathering of a community – celebrating prowess, creativity, and a hive of interactions, exchanges and activity” as my brother Kofi as in Akpabli puts it, and I am glad the Nubuke Foundation has chosen to host this exhibition at the destination during the Woori festival that brings in weavers from as far afield as Mali.
I learn that, for more than a decade, Nubuke has run a series of design intervention initiatives with diverse groups of weavers in and around Wa, culminating in a body of knowledge about the weaving tradition through a process of questioning, testing, experimentation and workshops. This is what led to the instituting of the Foundations ‘Centre of Textiles and Clay’ in Loho near Wa.
As they say, culture is dynamic. But, it is, only when it responds to the society that it lives and is relevant. For me, no better destination could have been chosen to pay this homage to weavers. Our textiles and the method of its production is such an important aspect of our culture and this should not be lost on any level.
During last year’s edition, Nubuke instigated a digital collaboration between contemporary designers and weavers in Wa, Nadowli and Nandom. Building on that, this year’s episode will look at how we could continue to instigate encounters that might lead to the co-production of ideas, objects and the like.
With a programme lineup that includes exhibitions, games, a fashion show, children’s workshop, tours and others, do follow #nuwoori for all the festival updates.
Passion Air now has frequent flights scheduled to Wa every week. An hour in the air, and the flight attendant announces the descent into the sprawling city.
You should take advantage of this great opportunity and visit. While attending the festival and experiencing the exhibition, stay an hour away at the Royal Cosy Hills Hotel at Jirapa. This hotel has a ranch hosting wildlife like lions, hippos and zebras etc, and offer some exciting safari around its caged woods where the animals reside. Then also, you can have a cocktail on the deck of their ranch bar, which is set in a mini-lake they created themselves to give you spectacular sunset views! Domestic travel experts, WangoWango can sort your travel arrangements if you want, and you can luxuriate in the experience of clinging away cocktail glasses with your partner at a sundowner in the bush. You won’t regret it. This should definitely be on your bucket list.
In addition, the lads at Mooove Africa, the vibrant travel company, also have a package specifically designed for the festival. Look them up on Instagram and join in the trip upcountry. It’s a great itinerary they share, which I think will be great fun too. They go up to Weichau to hang with hippos in the wild! Now, that should also be on your bucket list.