Here is the story behind Chance The Rapper’s Black Star Line Festival in Ghana

Abu Mubarik January 04, 2023
Chance the Rapper. Photo credit: KEELEY PARENTEAU

It was “life-saving,” Chance The Rapper described his first experience in Ghana. The Chicago rapper first came to Ghana in January 2022 in response to Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo’s call for the diaspora to return to the ‘motherland.’

Chance was met on arrival in Ghana by fellow Chicago rapper Vic Mensa, whose family is Ghanaian. The duo first met with their involvement in the Chicago collective SaveMoney, which featured acts like Vic and Chance alongside Joey Purp, Towkio, and others, according to Complex. The project was a collection of like-minded Chicago-based artists and individuals.

Not much later, The Rapper arrived in Ghana and went on a journey to trace his ancestry root. In the company of his friends, he made a trip to Adom Waterfall situated in a local community called Obosomase to enjoy Ghana’s luxurious scenery.

From there, he made a visit to Ghana’s presidency, the Jubilee House, where he conferred with President Akufo-Addo. He also visited several events and memorial centers, including the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park & Mausoleum, Gallery 57 inside Kempinski Goldcoast Hotel, and the Freedom Skatepark and toured James Town, where his family built a school.

The three-time Grammy-winning musician was christened with the Akan tribal name “Nana Kofi Boa-Ampensom” while on a family history search. He even worshipped at a church built by his family years ago.

In a post on Instagram, the rapper revealed that the leader of the church, Bishop Nkansah, was an acquaintance of his great-grandmother. “My great grandfather was a Pan Africanist and a captain under Marcus Garvey,” he noted in a post.

What was supposed to be another vacation getaway for Chance eventually turned out to be something deeper and familial than he had imagined. He soon found himself immersed in Ghana’s music culture, and also learned about Ghana’s rich anti-colonial history.

Since his first trip to Ghana, he has returned to the West African nation three times. As a result, the artist has decided to organize a free concert and art event for others to also experience Ghana’s diverse culture as he did. According to him, the idea for the concert came during a trip to Ghana.

“I was introduced to the story and the legacy of Kwame Nkrumah, how he freed Ghana from British colonialism and kind of brought this idea of global Blackness to the forefront in the ’60s,” he notes.

“Just in that time, being so inspired by him and his teachings and his inspirations, which are W.E.B Du Bois and Marcus Garvey, we just started having conversations about how to bring more and more people together.”

Chance adds that the tagline for his concert is inspired by Jamaican activist and political leader Marcus Garvey. He founded the Black Star Line, which became a source of economic opportunities and inspiration for black workers in between North America, the Caribbean and Africa.

“We don’t have no movies about Marcus Garvey and the Black Star Line,” Chance told Rolling Stone. “I think it’d be really powerful for Black people to see and envision themselves on boats, like on top of them, not underneath, as chattel, but to be the voyagers and the directors of our future.”

The week-long Black Star Line concert in Accra will feature events, panels and a free concert slated for January 6. The event would be held in Accra’s Black Star Square, a monument to the political freedom that was secured by Ghanaians in 1957.

According to Rolling Stone, Chance will be performing alongside Erykah Badu, T-Pain, Jeremih, Sarkodie, Tobe Nwigwe, Asakaa Boys, M.anifest and fellow Chicago-born hip-hop artist Vic Mensa.

Chance says he wants to use the concert to bridge the gap between Black people abroad and in Africa.

“I think that specifically, the story of the founder’s independence is something that all black people should know,” he told AP. “There are no free sub-Saharan African countries until 1957. I think they should know about the revolutionary leaders on the continent and abroad. I think that if we had this connectedness and this interaction, people will actually have a chance to see this.”

Last Edited by:Sandra Appiah Updated: January 5, 2023


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