Foreign Gists

Chance The Rapper addresses Ghana Festival line-up backlash


Chance The Rapper has responded to recent backlash regarding his Ghana Festival line-up after the performer recruited controversial celebrities Dave Chappelle and Talib Kweli to appear. 

The festival is the brainchild of Chance and Vic Mensa, looking to bring a free celebration to the African nation. As the rapper declared: “I felt so free in Ghana… and I want others to feel the same way.”

However, this charitable gesture still managed to attract controversy after some criticised the rapper for signing up names that have made other people feel the opposite of free. Chappelle has recently been criticised for stand-up material which was perceived to be anti-trans. Meanwhile, Kweli was recently banned from Twitter for continually harassing a female user. 

On the whole, the free festival in Accra, Ghana was a huge success welcoming 50,000 fans from around the globe, and the celebrations went ahead safely and smoothly. However, many argued that given Ghana’s current political climate, that Chance and Mensa will have to be more judicious about who they book in an attempt to illuminate a more progressive route forward. 

With the country currently looking to criminalise and set a ten-year sentence for cross-dressing, same-sex public displays of affection, and same-sex marriage, detractors have argued that Chappelle and Kweli’s place on the line-up was particularly problematic.

“I think it’s something that Dave was actually shining a light on,” Chance argued. “That’s where that conversation came from. Dave was making a comment about the comedy scene in Ghana when he said, ‘I bet gay jokes go over so well here,’ to which everybody laughed about.”

Continuing: “And he was making a point to say that in Ghana, you can make jokes about things that are about gay people, about trans people, about a lot of social constructs, just about anything in the world. But you can’t make a comment about the government there. That’s not funny and that’s not respected, and it can be dangerous. It’s the complete opposite where we come from, where we can speak about the government all we want.”

He argued that Chappelle simply opened up an “honest dialogue” and concluded: “The goal overall is to just create community. I think that within this trip. I think a lot of the people that came from the diaspora, most of the people, if not all of them, were very respectful of the space and a lot of relationships were built, a lot of people created substantial relationships and connections that I think will live long after this festival.”