It was a no-brainer that Stormzy would give us an epic performance at this year's Global Citizen Festival: Accra at the iconic Black Star Square, because the King of Grime has done it before — both at the Global Citizen Prize ceremony in 2019, alongside Coldplay legend Chris Martin, and at Global Citizen Live alongside Elton John in Paris in 2021.
But this time, he was performing for the first time ever on a Global Citizen Festival stage in his mother's home country, Ghana.
If you’ve ever watched the movie Coming to America, starring Eddie Murphy, then you might remember the scene when Murphy's character returns to his motherland and is welcomed with open arms. It’s a celebration. From one great prince to another, this was Stormzy’s homecoming moment. As he put it to the 20,000 strong audience of Global Citizens: "Ghana, my people. I'm home!"
The 2022 Global Citizen Festival campaign came to a head on Sept. 24, at twin events in New York City and Accra, culminating in $2.4 billion mobilised to end extreme poverty, with key commitments announced on the festival stages from world leaders including Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo, governments, and corporate, philanthropic, and NGO partners.
Global Citizens around the world united in taking action to drive forward an ambitious policy agenda focused on empowering girls and women, taking climate action, breaking systemic barriers, and lifting up activists and advocates.
Here are four ways Stormzy paid homage to his Ghanaian roots at the biggest music event the country has ever seen: Global Citizen Festival: Accra.
1. He celebrated fresh Ghanaian talent.
Stormzy invited the torchbearers of Ghana’s fast-rising Drill scene, Yaw Tog and Kwesi Arthur, onto the Black Star Square stage for an epic performance of Yaw Tog’s electrifying tune “Sore".
Stormzy had worked with these two Ghanaian artists before, featuring on a remix of “Sore," a musical collaboration that gained huge traction both in Ghana and globally, showcasing a new generation of Drill music in Ghana. Taking its title from Ghanaian Twi dialect, “sore” means to wake up or to arise.
And rise they did on the Global Citizen Festival: Accra stage. Not only was the upbeat energy on stage during this performance palpable, but there was also a tangible sense of brotherhood and togetherness between them.
2. He gave legendary Ghanaian Highlife musician Daddy Lumba his flowers.
Stormzy isn’t one for flashy and ornate custom-made outfits, usually preferring a t-shirt and jeans, and his set in Ghana was no different. But this time, his outfit was a sartorial homage.
Stormzy wore a graphic t-shirt with a familiar face on it, that of legendary Ghanaian Highlife musician, Daddy Lumba.
Highlife is a distinct West African genre of music that originated in Ghana in the 19th century and later spread to Nigeria, reaching its heyday in the 1950s.
Charles Kwadwo Fosu, known by his stage name Daddy Lumba, is an award-winning Ghanaian musician with a career spanning three decades and is regarded by many as the greatest Ghanaian musician of all time. In addition to his music career, the highlife artist knows a few things about giving back to the industry that made him who he is today. Throughout his career, he’s helped support fellow Ghanaian musicians with their careers, including another Ghanaian icon, Ofori Amponsah.
This time, it was Stormzy’s turn to show some recognition. And in response, Daddy Lumba himself shared a heartwarming Facebook post thanking Stormzy for his tribute: “I am immensely touched by Stormzy’s homage to me last night at the Global Citizen Festival. [...] To say that the gesture was heartwarming and humbling is an understatement.”
3. He described Ghana as 'my home'.
Although Stormzy grew up on the streets of Croydon in London, he shared at Global Citizen Festival: Accra that Ghana was his real home.
Met with howls of excitement, Stormzy proudly told the crowd: “We come from a little place called South London but we really come from a place called Ghana. It’s in my blood. It’s in my people. It’s in my home.”
4. He shouted out his Ghanaian mother.
Stormzy also gave a special shout out to one of his greatest inspirations and supporters throughout his career: his mother.
Stormzy’s mum Abigail Owuo was actually in the crowd at Global Citizen Festival: Accra to see him perform in her home country, a proud moment for both of them.
Owuo has been Stormzy's number one fan since day one. From making cameos in his music videos — including at the beginning of his recent release “Mel Made Me Do It” — to announcing his first headline show during his earlier stage of his career, she has definitely earned her flowers.