feature: the north star school in ghana needs a bus and you can be a part of the adventure!

October 24, 2014

It was Saturday night, October 11, 2014, and I was back at Rafa’s magical art lounge in Echo Park, which has quickly become one of my favorite spots in LA to check out local bands. It’s where I first heard the soul-transforming guitar solos of possessed axe-man Edgar Hernandez, of Blind Owl, after the Rock-Opera group, FEAL, welcomed me to LA with their captivating story-telling style and interpretive dancers. This time around, I was there co-hosting a benefit show with Edgar and the merry outlaws of FEAL for a cause near and dear to my heart – The North Star School Bus, the crowd-funding campaign I am heading, to get a bus for North Star School.

By Le Black Star, AFROPUNK Contributor *

North Star was established back in 2004 to teach the children of artisans and manual laborers in an isolated community in northern Accra, New Ashongman, which only recently attracted enough attention to develop a couple of its major roads and construct a sewer system. When I lived there in my youth, it was a densely forested village with no electricity or running water. My brother, who would later teach at North Star, and I created some of the walking paths that lead to the soccer fields. My dad opened the doors of the school with my sister as one of the first students, and my mom helps with administration and runs the cafeteria. The school has since grown to nearly 300 students in 2014 with a staff of 15 teachers and 3 non-teaching staff members. But since educating children from low-income families is the priority, necessary purchases such as a bus can be difficult.

In this urban district, a school bus is absolutely necessary: public transportation is unreliable, parents work long hours, and children often live very far from school. The goal is to raise $15,000 by November 21 on the crowd-funding site Indiegogo. Not only will your donation help give parents some peace of mind when they send their children off to school, but it will also help usher in a new generation of creative thinkers.

Over 90% of funds raised will go to the purchase and maintenance of a school bus. The remaining donations will fund the school’s Creative Writing Program, which awards the school’s most promising writer with an annual scholarship. This year’s contest theme is: “If you had a bus and a driver for a day, where would you go?” The following judges will evaluate student essays: Stephen Osadentz, Assistant Professor of English at Harvard University, Vasile Stanescu, Director of Debate at Mercer University, and Adrienne Rose Johnson, PhD Candidate in Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford University.

Moss of the Explorers came through to perform an acoustic solo set in his flip-flops, Chelsea “Miss Mesmerize” Monet got the crowd involved with some school bus rhymes, Black Hole Past partnered with bassist Andrew Harkness Newton and Catherine Serafin, drummer for the Endangered Machines, to bring some high energy, Gothic Cholo had us bobbing our heads, AJ Froman traveled from San Diego after playing Oktoberfest earlier in the day to deliver a spirited performance,  and FEAL took us on a journey through the wilds of Patagonia to end up in Los Angeles, where we encountered the Lady of Echo Park Lake.  DJ AC The Programmer and his cool guide dog were also present to provide the funk. It was a fun night with great people and we raised $260, mostly from the local artist community.

Personally, I get tired of hearing negative stories out of Africa all the time – kidnapped school children in Nigeria and now the Ebola epidemic. We have a real opportunity here to create a positive African story while delivering a practical solution to a practical problem. So help us deliver a bus to North Star School.


PS: If you missed the benefit concert, not need to fear, the ladies of Dark Moon are hosting our second benefit concert with another impressive line-up of musical guests. If you’re in the LA area, stop by to show your support.

* leblackstar.com