The Culture Joint

iMullar Sound System: Ghana’s Alté community safe haven


One of the biggest pillars in Ghana’s entertainment industry has been the events sector. The space has been an avenue for creatives in all aspects to generate funds and also build community while creating an environment to connect and network with other creatives, investors and consumers/patrons.

Events are perhaps one of the few sectors that create room for interactions among various creative folds like music, photography, fashion, videography, dance, Dj’ing, etc.

Events have been presented in different forms based on the target market. I do not think any event has been organized without a specific target market(s) in mind. From birthdays, anniversaries, parties, end-of-year parties, and club settings to concerts, every event has its unique audience and its intended goal.

The audience and goal for the events go a long way to determining the time, venue, music and activities that happen during the said events. Christian parties have a particular fashion style, music, theme, venue and duration. When I was younger, Tawala used to be the go-to place for lovers of reggae and dancehall. As such, people that went to Tawala already had in mind what genre of music and activities they were going to see.

While some events are more open to a wider audience and as such cover diverse music genres, there are events aimed at niche music and a specific community or group. Like Tawala, there Plus 223 Bar and Grill has its Jazz and highlife nights where Jazz and highlife music lovers can go to hear all their favourite songs from that genre.

Over the years, the events space in Ghana has continuously enjoyed a variety of events where there is something for every community. People regarded as ‘curfew babies’ who are not allowed outside overnight can enjoy concerts that run during the day. Those that want to party throughout the night still have their own.

Image by @yokemzy

The rise of niche events has done wonders for the events space and the entertainment industry at large.

Pop-ups, art exhibitions, food bazaars and other events have been on the rise in recent years and have provided a wide range of options for people that want to experience something outside the club and large music concert scene. Although not a new occurrence, my focus is centred on recent activities while appreciating the works of people in times past. In this article, I share my two cents on one of Accra’s fast-rising events IMSS and its impact on the alté community. 

While some people may not want to agree, it is no secret that despite their influence in our creative space, the alté community continues to be a niche group. Over the years several industry players have been intentional in amplifying the community and its impact on our space.

One such industry player is Maxwell Adjavon and his iMullar Network. The network has been a key stakeholder in the amplification of niche creatives who are largely overlooked because they create things outside the normally accepted standards. Through their social media pages, blog and other activities they have continuously shed light on countless creatives.

One of their initiatives which I loved was their “Coachella” event during the lockdown period. Fast forward to 2022, while becoming a major industry player in not just Ghana but Africa, iMullar introduced its Imullar Sound System event.

While sound system culture is not new to Ghana, the iMullar Sound System (IMSS) presented the growing alte community with a space where they could enjoy their music, and fashion and engage in their activities where they would not be looked at as weird or outcasts.

Image by @yokemzy

Seven editions down the line with appearances at some of the biggest events in Ghana especially in December, IMSS has quickly become one of the most anticipated events every month. The event has given DJs that play outside the everyday afrobeats and All-I-do-is-win type of sets a platform to exhibit what their prowess. 

DJs that play house, dance, EDM and its other variants have been in high demand after their amazing sets at IMSS. I did not know I enjoyed house music that much until I found myself at IMSS 004. Since then, I have looked forward to experiencing these Djs work their magic. 

I am thankful for events like IMSS which not only offer a refreshing experience but expose people to diverse creative communities outside the norm. For me, the event is some form of art exhibition where music, fashion and art interact.

For a couple of hours, you become a part of this whole new community where people are daring and expressive in their art, especially fashion. I have seen some fits at IMSS which caught my attention. I know I may not be able to pull off those fits, but I do appreciate the beauty on display. 

The event has been a space where like-minded people and people that are unaware of the vibrant alté community in Ghana can interact and network. If not for anything at all, IMSS should be applauded for creating a safe haven for an underappreciated yet vibrant and important community like the alte community. 

For a generation that is very open-minded and constantly evolving, we need more iMullars to put together events like this that allow for communities to grow and evolve. It may not be easy putting events like this together, but in the long term spaces like this are going to create ripple effects that are going to impact the next generation.

Source: Nana Kojo Mula

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