Accra is Africa’s favourite city, and it’s not for nothing. Accra’s air, around Osu, Airport, Labadi, Jamestown, is not only refreshing to breathe in, but can actually be tasted. Coloured daily by a golden sun and twinkling stars, bubbly art, ubiquitous music, and a well-known culture of superior hospitality, Accra City (especially at night) is a natural destination for many pleasures.
Founded in 1898, Accra (Ghana’s capital), like Mumbai, Nairobi, New York, or Durban, is very much a palimpsest too, rebuilt by many histories: migration, war, colonialism, and constant modernization. The African model it has become since independence, the city holds on just as firmly to a quaint architecture as it embraces new buildings which rise to meet the sky.
So, where do you go to properly encounter Accra’s famous nightlife? Everywhere; the city knows not sleep, and every street leads to happiness. Remember these two suburbs: Osu and Tema –they really command the Accra nightlife.
There’s trotro (public buses) for every destination; there are okadas (motorcycles), and taxis (drivers of these vehicles particularly, regularly undergo training on receiving tourists under the auspices of the sector ministry).
Accra’s beaches are numerous, because the Atlantic Ocean covers the entire length of the city. The La Pleasure Beach, fifteen minutes from key monuments as the National Museum and Osu Castle, hosts outdoor events every other night: you literally walk out of the sea into a party. During the day, it’s quiet and peaceful, so you can read, take a stroll, observe the art showcases, or just lay back and take in the dazzling blue of the noon sky (the night sky is just as breath-taking, mind you). Or, you could visit Tawala (also in Labadi), Kokrobite, or Bojo (both located on the south coast).
There’s +233 Jazz Bar & Grill (Ring Road Central), which plays live band music six times a week, aside delicious hotdogs, kebabs, chicken, and pork chops. Perfect for both an adult crowd and a low budget.
Accra’s night clubs
There’s the AM & PM Sports Bar, located in the plush Villagio Apartments (North Airport) — café by day, sports bar at night. Quite the upscale joint, their All Star Burger, and signature cocktails have been responsible for many indelible experiences.
There’s the Champs Bar (Ringway CI), which, like Epo’s, Republic, Kona (all in Osu), and the Django Bar (founded by top Ghanaian rap icon Reggie Rockstone), suits the younger crowd. GHC 40 (roughly $15) covers all you could possibly drink throughout the open-bar Saturday nights. While this is the highlight, there’s something happening every night, from Karaoke sessions to 90s dress up parties.
At the same time, do well to pass by our famous blue kiosks (local bars) located virtually off every street, which serve native brews and gins; Pitoo, Akpeteshie, Brukutu, and palm wine.
Like everywhere else, but especially for Accra, music is integral to the nightlife. Ghana is pioneer of key sounds to emerge from the continent (most prominently highlife, and the Afrobeats sub-genre Azonto). That is where the many, many nightclubs come in: Kristal (Osu), Twist (Labone), Onyx, Django (Cantonments), Bedouin Lounge (East Lagon), Monte Carlo (Tema), Belaroma (Tema), Plot 7 (Labone)…This is where the new street sounds are experimented, and the dance floors come to life, and beers and Whiskeys touch the spirits.
Alliance Française (Casley- Hayford Rd), and Brazil House (Jamestown) witness weekly poetry slams, intimate jam sessions, gestation platforms for emerging acts, and discourse on art.
The Osu Oxford Street (3 kilometres east of the central business district) is perhaps the most prominent of all of Accra’s roads, therefore a must-visit. Its repute is ultimately due to how well it typifies the wider picture of the city- a melting point for endless diversity. Stretching from the Dankwah Circle (named after one of our founding heroes) to the Osu Presby Church, it is alive with everything: bright lights, food joints and bars, casinos, indigenous clothing and artefacts, the Oxford Street Mall, and happy people.
A lot else happens on the streets of Accra, like the annual Chale Wote Street Arts Festival; perhaps the biggest assembly point for art, music, dance and performance on the continent. There’s Check-Check (fast food joints serving mainly fried rice and chicken, or noodles), chop bars (local restaurants where you can sample indigenous cuisine like Banku, Fufu, and Kenkey), and hawkers who know your specific needs just by looking at you.
Otherwise, you could visit any of the several malls springing up: Accra, Marina, West Hills, Osu, ANC, Junction Mall, which meet your every need from shopping, to food, to entertainment.
Accra’s hospitality is top-notch, and it is witnessed just as much in lodging spaces. There’s decent accommodation for low earner to high class. You should check out the Holiday Inn, situated in the very heart of Airport City. It gives you panoramic views of the Kotoka International Airport and surrounding areas. It is fitted with a large pool, a cocktail bar, two restaurants, a business centre, many freebies including breakfast and shuttle service. Close-by is the striking Ibis Styles Hotel, also high-end but worth every cedi. It stands out in both architecture and colour. Other sought after hotels in the capital include Movenpick Ambassador Hotel, Accra City Hotel (both on the Independence Avenue), Fiesta Royal Hotel (Dzorwulu), Kempinski Gold Coast Hotel (Gamel Abdul Nasser Rd.), Golden Tulip ((Liberation Rd), Urbano Hotel (Osu) and Alisa Hotel (North Ridge).
Accra is Africa’s favourite city, and it’s not for nothing. Welcome!
This article first appears in TAP MAGAZINE
Images: Yaw Pare