‘Reconnecting with the motherland’: African-American artists’ fantasies of Africa

Like Kendrick Lamar in June, Afro-descendant celebrities regularly stage their ‘comeback’ on the continent, stirring up controversy in the process.


Every trip by an African-American artist to Africa seems to generate controversy. The release on Spotify of a mini-documentary about Kendrick Lamar’s visit to Ghana in support of his latest albumMr. Morale & The Big Steppers, was no exception. The three-minute video, which shows scenes of the rapper with young Ghanaian skateboarders and surfers interspersed with street shots of working-class neighborhoods in Accra, drew mixed reviews from internet users in Africa.

“I really dislike how American celebrities portray Africa as this fetishized land that serves as nothing more than an aesthetic backdrop for them in the face of their own internal conflict or whatever journey they are currently undergoing,” a young Kenyan woman quickly responded to Mr. Lamar’s video, in a message retweeted nearly 20,000 times. “Do they not have a right to reconnect with their motherland? Is it not their freedom to portray that however?” another user asked.


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