Formerly Bassline Jazz Club, +233 (named after the Ghanaian dialling code) is an intelligently designed club that has live bands six days a week. Inside, there are two floors. The band play on a small stage downstairs, but can also be seen from the U-shaped upstairs. There’s ample seating outside too, which looks onto a glass wall behind which the band play. And external speakers mean its almost as loud outside as in. Each section has its own bar with attentive servers. The food – burgers, hotdogs, chicken, chips, kebabs and pork chops – is mostly off the grill. The music varies between highlife, blues, jazz (although rarely hip hop) and anything else good. There’s only an entrance charge (usually GH¢10) when the band merits it. It’s a hugely popular venue, and rightly so. Probably the best place in Accra to see live music at the moment.
Firefly is a confident nightspot – the industrial chic of its whitewashed brickwork, dim lighting and edgy beats attracts a preened international clientele. A backlit bar glows with premium blends, with cocktail aficionados, spirit lovers and wine drinkers alike pull up stools to confer with chatty staff who sport braces and the odd jauntily angled hat.
We’ll still keep recommending this bar as it remains one of the best bars in Accra right now, thanks to its relaxed approach to the good things in life: alcohol, fried food and really great music. It’s a tiny space that tumbles out onto the street when things really kick off, late on a Friday or Saturday. Album covers and black-and-white photos of music stars adorn the walls as Ghanaian music blasts out (there are often jaw-dropping highlife music acts live on the terrace; check out the Facebook page and Twitter account for details – the legendary Ebo Taylor has played here). There’s always live music on a Wednesday too.
Reggae DJs play on Wednesday night near an open bar that is stocked with local and imported beers. There are occasional live bands, as well as acrobats and other entertainment. The groups come from around Accra as well as from neighbouring countries. The standard is very high and you’ll likely catch something that gets you moving. It draws a mix of international students, reggae lovers, rastafarians and the less pious ‘rental dreads’ looking to hook up with a foreigner or at least sell some Rasta-styled wares. A worthwhile trip if you are in town.
While the dim lighting and pumping tunes advertise it as a drinkers’ hangout, Firefly Lounge Bar also has a comprehensive international menu to accompany its premium spirits. A selection of tapas is a tasty and swift re-fuel for barflies, as is the selection of Middle Eastern dips (GH¢18-28), with crisp slices of French bread for ladling fresh hummus, baba ghanoush and labne. Mains include steaks and Spanish classics such as saltimbocca. The fries are the perfect alliance of crisp and fluffy, and the goat’s cheese croquettes are as wonderful as they sound. As a sophisticated nightspot, Firefly is faultless; as a restaurant, it has some real strengths and sophisticated flavours, but the menu could benefit from a couple of tweaks to back up the price tag.
Fresh and bold Mediterranean flavours reign at this friendly Italian eatery. It’s recently been expanded, and diners have a choice between an indoor restaurant area, outdoor patio, or lounging on the banquettes in the bar area. Patrons devour Italian staples packed with triumphant combinations of smoky black olives, rich cheese, tender artichokes, full-bodied passatas and cured meats. Mains include tagliata with parmesan and rucola (GH¢45), but most people opt for the pizzas (GH¢28 on average), which are superb – giant bubbling disks liberally topped. For a loaded treat, the Quattro Stagioni has mushrooms and artichokes aplenty, and the piquant Diavolo is a simple pleasure of salami drizzled with chili oil. Those heroic enough to vanquish a whole pizza can revive with a espresso in stylish white cups.
One of the most happening bars in Accra right now, thanks to its relaxed, music-forward approach to the good things in life: alcohol, fried food and really great music. It’s a tiny space that tumbles out onto the street when things really kick off late on a Friday or Saturday. Album covers and black-and-white photos of music stars adorn the walls as Ghana’s best music blasts out (often live on the terrace; check out the Facebook page and Twitter account for details – highlife legend Ebo Taylor has even played here). Even the cocktails use great ingredients not found anywhere else: the Republica is a caipirihna made from traditional palm wine. On a sunny day (and yes, it’s always sunny), try one of their ‘Wild Beers’: the Beer Sap has bissap concentrate added to it. Fittingly, the food is good beer fodder too – the cassava chips are a fabulous drinking accompaniment, while the Fire Go Burn You pepper soup and Ye Ye Goat curry, for around GH¢12, are superb value for something this tasty.
The Shisha Lounge is Osu’s newest hotspot, filled well into the night with partygoers attracted by its laidback vibe, outdoor seating, superb DJ roster and some very fine cocktails. It’s a small, but well-designed space with a series of patios, outdoor lounge seating areas, plus an indoor bar and lounge. They turn out great pizzas from the bespoke oven, plus sharing platters. There are, of course, shisha pipes to hire if you’d like to indulge. It’s a classy well-thought out joint that steamed to the top of the Accra VIP list. This is a place that is all about the good times! Open daily from 6pm to very late.
Kaya meaning ‘home’ in both Japanese and Zulu and 'pure' in Greek, and wellbeing lies at the heart of this multi-experience. Here, we care about the beautiful outdoor bar. Kaya is at its most alluring at night, when the sparkling terrace is illuminated and transformed into one of Accra’s best party venues. The vibe is soulful sounds and jazz. On Fridays it becomes resident to one of Accra’s most renowned DJs, who draws a younger crowd to the very buzzy cocktail bar. The cocktails are unmissable, with hyperactive mixologists using inventive ingredients to create masterpieces.
The hugely respected Ghanaian artist Ablade Glover established this renowned arts venue, which has become one of the most important of its kind in Ghana. There are three expansive floors of art displayed in cool marble galleries. Some are by established artists, such as Owusu Ankomah and George Hughes, whose paintings are reminiscent of Jean Michel Basquiat and Willem De Kooning, while others are by new and upcoming artists like Ebenezer Borlabie. Market, rural and urban scenes are interspersed with political satires – and naturally, there are also the shrouded figures and staccatoed crowd scenes by Glover himself. There are collectors’ pieces too: Asafo flags with appliquéd and embroidered symbols; ancient strip-woven Kente cloths by the Akan and Ewe; African masks of the type that inspired Picasso; and intricately carved furniture. Also on show are full-sized coffins in the shapes of crabs, running shoes and eagles. Everything is for sale. There’s a lovely pool out the back.
Loom’s Frances Ademola has a popular gallery that exhibits paintings and sculptures by a good selection of Ghana’s foremost artists, with a smattering of expressive Nigerian pieces. The modest space has been here since 1969, and is bursting at the seams with the work of nearly 100 artists. If Ademola is around, she’s delightful company, chatting exuberantly about artists such as Seth and Serge Clottey and Gabriel Eklou, and happily offering her great knowledge of the Ghanaian art scene, past and present. Loom is regarded as one of Ghana’s premier galleries.
Along the seafront near Black Star Square is the Arts Centre. Hawkers attack from all sides as soon as you arrive, but if you’re not exhausted by the scrum you can find carvings, baskets, drums, bags, beads, fabrics, sandals, sculptures, stools, rugs and occasionally antiques. It’s a place to unearth some incredible finds and gifts. The best bet is to head past the hassle which you’ll inevitably encounter at the entrance and make your way towards the back of the complex, where it’s a bit more relaxed. Haggling is expected. There’s also an art gallery, which sells prints and paintings at reasonable prices.
Tjaša Rener studied painting at Academy of Fine Arts and Design of Ljubljana. She launched her project 'A story from Africa' on Kickstarter, in 2013. This time, she presents her latest works which are reflections of life in Ghana and how our lives are affected by technology. At the launch on Wednesday 17 May, a live blues band will be playing at 6:30pm. Free.
Accra's much-loved spoken word platform, the Talk Party events are not to be missed. With top poets performing and a welcoming atmosphere for newbies, it is an ideal opportunity to get started or be inspired by poetry. This Sunday's Talk Party features Hondred Percent as the night's guest artist. He will perform tracks from his new album and discuss how he made it. 10 GHC
Gallery 1957 is a new gallery with a curatorial focus on contemporary Ghanaian art presenting a programme of exhibitions, installations and performances by the country’s most significant artists. The gallery has evolved from over 15 years of private collecting by Marwan Zakhem. With an initial curatorial focus on contemporary Ghanaian art, the gallery will present a programme of exhibitions, installations and performances by the region’s most significant artists under the creative direction of Nana Oforiatta Ayim. The 140 sq. metre space is located within the newly built Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City, and is named after the year Ghana gained independence.
The Foundation for Contemporary Art at the WEB du Bois Centre (a research centre for Pan-African history and culture, named after African-American civil rights activist William Edward Burghardt Du Bois) was set up by Joe Nkrumah, formerly of the National Museum, and Australian artist Virginia Ryan. It exhibits work by up-and-coming artists in interesting ways, such as its Art in the Garden projects. Its growing library, now with more than 800 books about visual arts, is one of the organisation’s most important projects. It’s also developing a debating forum and a public database of artists, organisations, galleries and patrons. There’s a wide range of information on its website.
This is one of the original workshop for the fantasy coffins that are now collected and exhibited as contemporary art all over the world. Caskets shaped as birds, fish, aeroplanes, shoes, beer bottles, cars and anything else that stretches the imagination are displayed as pieces of art, and sometimes sold as miniatures. Many examples are featured in the book Going into Darkness by Thierry Secretan. The thinking behind the coffins is that they reflect the life or personality of the deceased. If you’re a farmer, you might be buried in an onion or tomato. If you’re a fisherman, it might be a tuna. Surprisingly, the caskets were only first built in 1957, but have now become well-known artworks, with appearances in European galleries. You’ll find a couple of good examples in the British Museum in London, along with other Ghanaian artefacts. More good examples of coffin art can also be seen at the Artists Alliance gallery.
Friday 15th November – until Monday 11th December Exhibition Hall, Alliance Francaise Accra Eric Adjetey Anang is dedicated to develop the art initiated by his grandfather Seth Kane Kwei in the 50s. Recognized in Ghana as a coffin maker, he is renowned abroad as an artist and a designer. He is regularly invited to present his work at international events, works with Western designers and is involved in educational projects. There's nothing like a colourful send-off... The tradition of crafting elaborate, vibrant caskets for the dearly departed is a relatively new one - hence the playful, sometimes postmodern aspects to the work of coffin-maker par excellence Paa Joe (whose inflatable Disney-consumerist coffin sculpture, recently on display in the UK, could give Jeff Koons a run for his money on the international art scene). The 'fantasy' coffin making trade emerged in the Teshie suburb of Accra in the '50s, around the time of independence. It was pioneered by Seth Kane Kwei, who took commissions from grieving family members and ran with them. Kwei died in 1992 but bequeathed a new, iconic style to African contemporary art. The Kane Kwei Carpentery Workshop - along with a number of other designer-coffin producers in Ghana - is as busy as ever today, and Time Out was allowed a peek under the lid...