The aforementioned surprise guests also ushered in some criticism a result of Chappelle’s previous anti-trans jokes, and Kweli’s ban from Twitter after being accused of harassing a black woman named Maya Monroe.
While Chance and Mensa’s inaugural festival in Accra, Ghana was mostly a success, bringing a estimated 50,000 fans from across the globe, Talib Kweli and Dave Chappelle’s involvement was seen as insensitive given Accra’s current political climate.
There is currently a tough anti-LGBTQ bill being championed by parliamentarians in Ghana, and the bill, if passed, would “criminalize cross-dressing, public affection between two people of the same sex, marriage between same-sex couples , or the intent to marry someone of the same sex,” according to Los Angeles Blade. Violators of the bill risk up to 10 years in prison.
In an interview with Rolling stones, Chance took a moment to respond to this criticism, as well as criticism that the increased tourism in Ghana for the festival has partly contributed to rising living costs among poor residents.
“It was something I had in mind from the jump when we made it,” Chance said in part. “I always wanted this festival to be something that, first of all, gave access to people who don’t typically get to go to these concerts because a lot of the events around that time price people out.”
He continued, “The overall goal is just to create a community. I think that within this tour. I think that a lot of the people that came from the diaspora, most of the people, if not all of them, were very respectful of space and a lot of relationships were built, a lot of people made significant relationships and connections that I think will live long after this festival. I think it’s something that we just have to keep talking about. I think it is important that those questions are raised and those conversations are held.
As for the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, Chance said he was aware of the bill and that he believes Chappelle is indeed focused on it.
“I think that’s something that Dave actually shined a light on,” he said. “That’s where that conversation came from. Dave made a comment about the comedy scene in Ghana when he said, “I bet gay jokes go down so well here,” to which everyone laughed.
“And he made a point to say that in Ghana you can make jokes about gay things, about trans people, about a lot of social constructs, almost anything in the world. But there you can’t make a comment about the government . It’s not fun, and it’s disrespected, and it can be dangerous. It’s the exact opposite of where we come from, where we can talk about the government all we want.
Chance went on to say that he thought Chappelle’s performance was an “honest dialogue” and that he feels bad if a gay or trans contestant feels “singled out” by certain jokes.
“Again, I wanted everyone to feel as welcome and communal as possible,” Chance concluded. “And so if having Dave there made people feel like they didn’t belong, that they didn’t have a place, or that they weren’t welcome, that wasn’t my intention. And I can assure you that there many people at the festival and at the lecture from many different backgrounds.”
Chance The Rapper revealed the lineup for the free Black Star Line Festival he started with Vic Mensa back in November. The party included performances from Erykah Badu, T-Pain, Jeremiah, Among others Tobe Nwigwe, Sarkodie, M.anifest and Asakaa Boys.