Burna Boy’s performance was delayed, but Ghanaian superstar Shatta Wale cheered the crowd up at Afrokera’s sixth annual celebration.
This year, Afrochella, the Ghanaian music festival held every December since 2017, faced many challenges.
Rolling Stone reported that not only was the festival hit by a copyright infringement lawsuit earlier this year, but it also had to compete with Aphronation Festival because its name resembled that of Coachella. I had to.
But Afroquera, held in the capital Accra on December 28th and 29th, went well. And unlike Afronation, which featured Meek Mill as a headliner this year, Afroquera featured major headliners who were all African-based musicians.
The theme of this year’s festival is “Afrofuturism”. The scene on the ground was calm, with an underlying excitement for most of the day. Many attendees were clearly interested in connecting to their roots. Costumes featuring African-inspired prints and futuristic hairstyles such as locks encased in shiny metal were seen at every turn.
Afrochella CEO and co-founder Abdul Karim Abdullah said in a statement earlier this year that the festival would explore “endless possibilities of what ‘Afrofuturism’ could look like.” The revitalization of the festival did not disappoint.
Several artists, including Ghanaian muralist Moh Awudu, painted the murals in real time. Other attractions included a UFO-like photo activation of flowers, a traditional face painting station, and many other art his installations worth taking pictures with. However, the activation that seemed to be the most popular was not in a fixed location.
Horses adorned with ornate metal panels weave through activations behind a team of father-son jockeys to lead charges and provide rides for participants. Aside from that, the animals were a sight to behold.
Jonathan Rawal, who started riding at the age of seven, owns four of the roughly six horses used at the event. Roal was born in the stables of Accra and remembered watching his grandmother tend horses.
He hopes the future of horse handling in Ghana doesn’t end with him. On the first day of Afrochella, Ma was one of the most glamorous opportunities for festival-goers to post on his Instagram.
Day one performers including Ghanaian artists Kwesi Arthur, DJ Juls, King Promise, Stonebwoy and Nigerian artists Fireboy DML and Ayra Starr kicked off their sets just after sunset.
The star’s energetic performance was the highlight of the evening. Halfway through the set she slipped on stage, but the audience didn’t have time to worry as the 20-year-old got up and carried on, probably better than she was before. The star dove into the crowd to sing her last hit, “Bloody Samaritan.”
Burna Boy, who was scheduled to perform Wednesday, took the stage on the second day of the festival instead. Superstar Shatter Wale is best known outside of his massive fan base.
The crowd went wild during Shatta Wale’s set. more enthusiastic than any other performer. Audiences stood on sofas and yelled along to his catalog of songs. He commanded the stage as if he were the only performer on the bill, and the audience definitely soaked up his energy and confidence.
Towards the end of the day there was another bright spot for the future of African music. Ghanaian emerging artist Bro announced the winners of the Afrokera Rising Star competition on the main stage. Acquired a recording contract with Sony Music Africa.
The final performance of the day was by Stonebwoy. He appeared on stage with a brass band and closed out the show with fan favorites from his catalog.
Chinekwu Osakwe is theGrio’s Weekend Editor. She graduated from New York University and Columbia University, and has written for Rolling Stone and Reuters.
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A post about Afrochella heading into the future on a vibrant opening day first appeared on The Grio.