On January 1, 2019, London-based British-Ghanaian lawyer Yvonne Kramo was definitely feeling some FOMO when she tweeted, “Christmas/ NYE 2018 clearly belonged to Accra. #Afrochella.” Indeed, Idris Elba, Boris Kodjoe, Nicole Ari Parker, Naomi Campbell, Ebro Darden and many other celebs were in Accra, Ghana, for the inaugural Full Circle Festival.
Their itinerary included an invitation to what seemed like the continent’s biggest day-into-night event, Afrochella. More than 10,000 people gathered inside El Wak Sports Stadium for the celebration of Ghanaian arts, music and food.
In a few days, on December 28, during the weeklong Full Circle Festival (Essence Communications Inc.’s parent company Essence Ventures is a partner), Afrochella cofounder and CEO Abdul Karim Abdullah hopes that Ghanaians coming back, as well as first-timers visiting for the Year of the Return extravaganza, will feel “a vibration of the country and what it feels like to be with the people.”
In 2017 Abdullah, Kenny Agyapong and Edward Adjaye started Afrochella purely as a party; but they have since shifted their sights well beyond bottle service and artsy photo booths—though Abdullah notes that this year’s Golden Forest photo activation has been designed in honor of the legacy of Ghana’s Gold Coast, and those returning home will be photographed as royals.
“Whether we’re coming from London, New York, or you’re this new age African from the diaspora, you want to experience things like we experience them in the US on the continent,” said Nana Eyeson-Akiwowo, who’s been traveling back to Accra for the last 11 years with her organization African Health Now and experienced Afrochella up close last year. “It’s literally an event for all ages. It had all these great food vendors and dope photo activations. It really was like Coachella in Africa.”
But that’s not all for Eyeson-Akiwowo. “When you go to Afrochella, you see the local kids from Nima and the areas around [the city who] have access to the space and they get to see what their potential can be.”
In Afrochella’s third year, the creators also aim to make an economic difference on the continent. “Afrochella now serves as an opportunity to give jobs to people on the ground,” explains Abdullah. “This whole buy-Black thing is very important. We have an opportunity to act on it by investing not only in Ghana but also in other parts of Africa.”