The 47-year-old who is most widely known for his satirical sketch comedy series, The Chappelle Show, told supermodel Naomi Campbell during her podcast, No Filter with Naomi, that he’s been inspired by Stevie Wonder to take a pilgrimage back to the motherland.
“Now those in the room that knows Stevie personally he’s said this thing many times through the years that we’ve known him,” Chappelle said, possibly referring to Wonder’s 1994 remarks about Ghana having “more sense of community” than the United States. “But this last time he said it, what he said was ‘I am moving to Ghana so that I can be valued and respected more’, that’s almost exactly the phrase he used.”
“As a Black American, who amongst us is more valued and respected than Stevie Wonder?” Chappelle asks. “The idea that he would feel this way at this stage in his life and career…I think that Stevie is the soul of American culture and if the soul leaves the body then this thing is dead. I thought I’ll follow him over there, or I’ll go myself. I’ll do it for him.”
In February, Wonder told Oprah Winfrey that he intends on moving to the African nation due to the perpetual cases of racial injustice that have infiltrated American culture, specifically against Black Americans.
“I wanna see this nation smile again, and I want to see it before I leave to travel to move to Ghana,” the “Superstition” singer told the media mogul. “Because I’m going to do that.”
When asked why, he replied, “I don’t want to see my children’s children’s children have to say, ‘Oh, please like me. Please respect me. Please know that I am important. Please value me.’ What kind of [life would that be]?”
After Ghanaian president Nana Akufo-Addo commenced the “Year of Return, Ghana 2019” initiative, catered to Africans in the Diaspora, Black Americans have journeyed back to the continent in search of respite from adversity faced in the United States. The year 2019 marks 400 years since the beginning of the slave trade.
“We know of the extraordinary achievements and contributions they [Africans in the diaspora] made to the lives of the Americans, and it is important that this symbolic year—400 years later—we commemorate their existence and their sacrifices,” Akufo-Addo said in Washington, D.C, according to the United Nations.
In 2020, NBC News highlighted Black Americans exploring their identity in Ghana, including former NFL player Malcolm Jenkins who said he plans to buy a vacation home in the Gold Coast.
“We come from a lineage of people that we’ve been disconnected from, and I think it’s really important that we start to take that journey as individuals,” Jenkins told NBC News. “I think it’s the right time for African Americans as they make that journey back to the homeland to actually lay roots and play a part in the process of really building a strong and unified Africa.”
Jewel Thompson, an American expat working as a business lecturer said that moving to Ghana has allowed her to explore a deeper understanding of who she really is.
“You’re constantly searching for who am I, where do I come from, what does that mean to me,” she said. “But when you come here, there’s this invitation that you’re home. And being here sparks this feeling within you that, OK, I see my people, I see who they were before this story was told about them, and now I can relate.”
When Chappelle arrives in Africa, he plans to open a comedy club, and tells Campbell he is currently working with Ghanaian British architect David Adjaye to have that project come to fruition.
“We have been working together, hopefully, I’ll build something there, but I am definitely going to at least rent something for the foreseeable future, and I hope to open a comedy club there because there’s none,” he said.