Dave Chappelle revealed that he was so moved by Stevie Wonder’s recent reasoning for wanting to relocate to Ghana that it’s made him consider making the move as well.
The 47-year-old comedian shared that these thoughts developed after he heard the “Superstition” singer say that part of his motivation for the transcontinental move was due to wanting to be “be valued and respected more” during his talk with model Naomi Campbell for her podcast “No Filter With Naomi,” for her one-year anniversary episode.
Beginning at the 33:25 mark of the interview, Chappelle explains that his focus is currently on the legacy he’ll leave once he’s gone, which is one of the reasons Africa is calling his name. “It’s funny, now at this stage of my life and my career, as I’m getting older, I start thinking about a larger picture than just like a show or this, that, or the other,” he said. “I’m in that phase of my career, even though I’m still kind of a young guy, of thinking about a legacy.”
Those worried that this means Dave could be leaving comedy behind can rest easy. He still loves the craft, but wants to make sure his work is “a little more meaningful.” He shared, “All these years later, I still love doing [comedy] but I’d like it to be a little more meaningful than just writing a joke and taking it to market. I want to build something that will last beyond me.”
When Campbell followed his declaration up by asking the “Chappelle’s Show” creator where he wanted to go next in 2021 after seeing the world over the course of his successful career, Dave answered without skipping a beat, telling the story of how his friend and legendary musician Stevie Wonder inspired him to turn his eye toward the Motherland.
“Stevie Wonder said in the press recently that he wanted to move to Ghana,” Chappelle answered. “Now those of us in the room that know Stevie personally, he’s said this thing many times through the years that we’ve known him. But this last time he said it, what he said, he said ‘I’m moving to Ghana so that I can be valued and respected more.’ This is almost exactly the phrase he used.”
“You gotta think, as a Black American, who amongst us is more valued or respected than Stevie Wonder? The idea that he would feel this way at this stage in his life and in his career,” he continued. “He goes on to say ‘I would do this for my grandchildren. So that they don’t have to worry about that. Which is a very ominous thing to say because clearly this is going to last for the foreseeable future. To see him decide to make that move, I wanted to go.”
He added, “I look at Stevie as, he’s the soul of American culture and man if the soul leaves the body then this thing is dead…I’ll follow him over there. Or I’ll go myself. I’ll do it for him.”
Dave called Naomi to let her know of his decision “immediately” and she put him in touch with David Adjaye, the world-renowned architect who designed the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, whom Chappelle hopes to work with to “build something” in Ghana. In the meantime, Chappelle indicated he will “at least rent something for the foreseeable future,” and open a comedy club as well.
“Those cultures have so much to say and the platform or the genre of stand-up comedy is so uniquely American,” Dave said of his plans to hopefully expand the reach of the industry. “I mean they do it all over the world now but it’s an art form that started here primarily, but Africa I feel like is very fertile, fertile ground for comedy as a genre.”
In November 2020, Stevie Wonder surprised Oprah with his decision to move to Ghana when they spoke on “Oprah Conversations.” He told the media mogul why he’s more determined to leave the United States for Africa than ever. “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’m important. Please value me.’ “