The Global citizen’s movement has been a medium, championing sustainable development goals for the past 10 years. One of their critical missions is to eradicate poverty in the world completely. They have gathered millions of voices together including celebrities and artists to demand change from world leaders. Every year, they hold an annual concert that fans can attend for free by taking action in ways of signing petitions and many more. This year was no exception but with a nouvelle element- it was held in Ghana for the first time.
With stages in Accra and New York, the event captured the Global Citizen ethos, channelling an eclectic array of musical talent in support of our efforts to End Extreme Poverty NOW and build momentum ahead of the G20 summit and UN Climate Conference, COP27, both in November.
The Global Citizens festival in Accra was a beautiful display of music and artistry that has perhaps never been experienced before. Held at the Black Star Square on the 24th of September, a benchmark was set for what live concerts are supposed to be like. The gates opened at 3 pm for the pre-party and a queue had already begun to form. Ghanaians were on time for a change. There were tents selling merchandise and food, with a medical area set up as well as portable toilets in a designated area. Everything required to enjoy a music festival was present. Ghana’s hottest and most sought-after MC, Kojo Manuel together with DJ Micsmith were billed to charge up the slowly forming crowd during the pre-party. The energy and anticipation for the night ahead were ample.
In no time all was set for the main event which began a little after 5 pm. Each artist meticulously curated a unique experience for their sets. No one could have kicked off the show better than Stonebwoy who made a grand entrance into the grounds riding on a horse, singing his latest single “Gidigba”. Thirty minutes seemed to be over in a flash as he performed banger after banger (“Therapy”, “Kpo K3k3”, “Run Go”). After setting the standard for the night, there was no way the other artists could disappoint.
Tems stole the hearts of the crowd as soon as she got on stage with a blue mesh one piece. Her energy was incredibly infectious as she sang hits off of her latest EP; If Orange Was a Place. Lyrics were yelled word for word as soon as “Essence” came on and we were rewarded with an iconic rockstar knee-pose moment as her guitarist rang out a solo riff during “Crazy Tings”.
Witnessing the lyrical prowess and powerful delivery of the Wicked Skengman, Stormzy, was a beautiful opportunity. After the rapid-fire performances of “Own it” and “Vossi Bop”, it felt like it couldn’t get any better until we heard the familiar intro to Ghanaian drill hit, “Sore”. The surprise appearance of Yaw Tog and Kwesi Arthur had the crowd in a chokehold as they performed with indescribable energy.
The “Tanzania” hitmaker and Africa’s most booked DJ, Uncle waffles was lined up to perform next. Without wasting time she began her set with the Amapiano hits. Immediately, the crowd responded with energetic dance moves and all the skirmishes associated with Amapiano. We could close the show and go home satisfied because there wasn’t a single bad performance up until this point. The night was still young all the same.
If there was anything we didn’t expect from the artists billed, it was a heavenly and choral performance- yet we got that from Gyakie. Gyakie in her unique abilities took the show to a brief moment of soul and blues with “Far Away” off her latest EP My diary and dropped us right back to jam with her Afrobeat song “something”.
The King of African rap came on and did what he does best- to wow crowds. Sarkodie’s performances have never been anything short of mind-blowing and he made sure to repeat that at the Black Star Square. Gracing the stage with his song “married to the game” he managed to overwhelm an already pleasing audience with hits like “hope”, ”Adonai”, “pizza and burger”, “lucky”, ”can’t let you go” and his latest hit record “non-living thing”. He also performed a record of his Black Love album- “the strength of a woman” which truly signifies what Global citizen preaches- equality for women and girls. In typical Sarkodie style, he did not leave the stage without performing the sark nation anthem- original.
All the stars were closer when SZA took the stage and rocked it in her beautiful outfit of the Ghana national colors. Her performance could be described as a sing-along as true SZA fans sang their lungs out with her. This seemed to take her by surprise as she confessed to being apprehensive as to whether the crowd would know her music since it was her first time in Africa. She went on to perform “the weekend”, “I hate you” and “love galore”.
All too soon, all was set for the headlining act for the show- the “watch this” meme king. Celebrating 25 years of his sophomore album-my way, Usher Raymond took us back to hits from the 2000’s “Superstar”, “yeah”, and “confessions”.
Bringing on stage Ghana’s finest dance crew, the DWP academy, Usher thrilled the crowd with his Afrobeat dance moves and seamless synchronization with the group. After that heated performance, fans thought the show was done only for Usher to announce his first surprise act- Oxlade, who performed his viral song “Ku lo sa” and fans went haywire. Next up he brought the “finesse” hitmaker Pheelz to the stage and then Tiwa savage.
The program ended at approximately 12:40 am after fireworks marked the closure of the event.
While people danced and cheered to their favourite songs, this year’s campaign revolved around major financial commitments for our primary objectives: empowering women and girls, supporting smallholder farmers and curbing the global hunger crisis, strengthening health systems, providing urgent relief from debts unjustly crushing economies, and defending advocacy and civic space.
The global citizen concert will go down in history as if not the best, one of the best shows we’ve experienced in Ghana. Reviews after the show have all been positive. Key stakeholders in the industry such as Baba Siddiq Abdulai of 3 music and Abdul Abdullah of Afrochella, have all applauded the production and organization of the event. This has also served as a wake-up call and benchmark for event organizers in Ghana to step up and reach this level.
Even though Global Citizen is a foreign organization, a lot of the work that was put into the success of the show was done by Ghanaian Creatives and it wouldn’t be right to not acknowledge for a job well done.
Special recognition to Ruddy Kwakye, the country director for Afronation Ghana, and his team who brought in the stage used for the Global Citizen festival. The stage was used at Afronation Portugal and had to be shipped in time for the festival.
Moh Awudu, a Ghanaian visual artist painted the beautiful mural seen on stage and on the festival grounds.
Nana Asihene, is a Ghanaian video director, creative consultant, and filmmaker who together with his team from NKACC and Bravado, produced and filmed the intro package for the Global Citizen Festival for the American commercial broadcast television network, ABC.
Afrobeast, a Ghanaian dancer and choreographer, was responsible for the dance routine done by Usher and the DWP Academy during Usher’s headlining act. DWP Academy is a Ghanaian dance group co-founded by Afrobeast and Dance god Lloyd and presided by Quables.
Derrick Kweku Ankamah, of the Ghanaian cameramen on duty at the Global Citizen Festival. He assisted on track and dolly duties, manning camera 5 from below the stage. Mr Frank Kwakye of Ghana Films was the man responsible for the sound at the festival.
To all the unsung Ghanaian creatives who contributed in their way to the success of the show, the team at iMullar says “Weldone” and may your future works be recognised.