In no particular order, meet the celebrities who constantly leave us spell bound.
1.Koffi Olomide, Congolese, Musician
Olomide possesses a first degree in Business Economics and reportedly has a Master’s Degree in mathematics from the University of Paris, but he found mainstream fame and considerable fortune playing music. Olomide is one of the more famous performers of soukous an extremely popular genre of African music which intermixes vigorous gyrations with finger-style guitar of Rhumba and African melodies.
2.Youssou N’dour, Senegalese, Musician
In 2004, the Rolling Stone Magazine referred to the Senegal’s most coveted musician as “perhaps the most famous singer alive”. That’s highly unlikely, particularly in a contemporary music scenery dominated by the likes of Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Justin Bieber. But N’dour, 59, is arguably Africa’s most electrifying and mesmerizing entertainer.
3.Didier Drogba, Ivorian, Soccer Player
A striker for England’s Chelsea football club and captain of the Cote D’Ivoire national team, Drogba’s dexterous strength and fitness on the pitch has consistently earned him administration of adoring fans across the globe. But it is his transcendent compassion that has endeared him to both soccer aficionados and the unintended. After his country had qualified for the World Cup in Germany, Drogba, surrounded by his team mates, famously fell to his knees on live television and urged the warring factions to give up their arms. It worked.
4.Angelique Kidjo, Beninioise, Musician
At 51, the Beniniose Grammy-award winning musician is still one of Africa’s greatest divas. Over the course of her career she has collaborated with Alicia Keys, Josh Groban and Carlos Santana amongst others on tours and album recordings. The UNICEF Goodwill ambassador is also the founder of the Batonga Foundation, a Washington-based charity which promotes and funds education for African girls. Passionate advocate for African women’s rights.
5.Akon, Senegalese, Musician
The Senegalese-American hip-hop act stepped into the limelight in 2004 with the release of “Looked Up”, his first single from his debut album Trouble. Success has been meteoric ever since. He has gone on to produce 3 successful studio albums which have sold millions across the world. He co-owns Kon Live, an Interscope-backed record label which helped jumpstart the career of Lady Gaga and T-Pain.
6.Wole Soyinka, Nigerian, Playwright
In 1986 the Nigerian Palywright and author became the first African to win the Nobel Prize in literature. Easily the most famous playwright ever to emerge from Africa, the erudite wordsmith has published over 20 plays including The Lion and the Jewel, A dance of the Forests and the Strong Breed.
7.Salif Keita, Malian, Musician
A direct descendant of Sundiata Keita, the founder of the Malii Empire, Salif is one of the pioneers of Afro-pop. As a member of a Malian Noble family, Keita was famously rebuked when he set out to become a musician as it was considered an occupation beneath his status. At 18, he was banished from his village because of a superstitious belief that albinos brought ill fortune. He went to play for Les Ambassadeurs, a Malian music group before striking out on his own.
8.Yvonne Chaka Chaka, South African, Musician
The ‘Princess of Africa’ is one of Africa’s most illustrious musicians. Debuted on the stage at the age of 18; rose to fame at the height of South Africa’s Apartheid regime with infectious pop melodies, sonorous voice and girlish charm. She gained local and international acclaim with popular songs like ”I’m in Love with a DJ” and “I cry for freedom.” She now devotes her time to philanthropy as a United Nations Goodwill ambassador and UN envoy for Africa.
9.Oumou Sangare, Milian, Musician
One of Mali’s most idolized musical legends, Sangare popularized Wassoulou, a popular genre of traditional instruments like the Djembe drum and the Kora (a traditional African harp). Her lyrics dwell on women right issues and feminism. Sangare, a United Nations goodwill ambassador has been vocal in her advocacy against polygamy; was named an afficial ambassador of the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations in 2003.
10.Femi Kuti, Nigerian, Musician
The eldest son of Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti has his father’s bllod flowing through his veins. He has toured and performed extensively with his father while he was alive, but his biggest break came with his father’s death in 1999 when the Afrobeat mantle fell on him. Just like his father, Femi attempts to use his music to combat corruption, poverty and other socio-economic issues prevalent in Nigeria and Africa through his lyrics.
11.Haile Gebrselassie, Ethipian, Athlete
The world’s number 1 distance runner has won the Berlin Marathon four times consecutively. He has also won the Great Manchester run in England for four times, and boasts of 2 Olympic Gold medals for 10,000 metre races.
12.Samuel Eto’o, Cameroonian, Soccer Player
In August, the Cameroonian striker left Inter Milan to pitch tent with Russian club, Anzhi Makhachkala in a deal that has earned him the title of not just the highest earning footballer in the world, but the highest-paid athlete in professional sports. Estimated salary: $29 million per season.
13.Genevieve Nnaji, Nigerian, Actress
Nnaji has frequently been hailed as Africa’s own answer to the likes of Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon and the rest of the feminine Hollywood stars. She started out in her acting career over 24 years ago, at the age of 8, playing a supporting role in a Nigerian TV series. Today, she is arguably Africa’s most revered actress and the poster girl for Nollywood-Nigeria’s burgeoning movie industry.
14.Hugh Masekela, South African, Musician
The 72 year-old South African Jazz maestro and internationally-acclaimed trumpeter shows no signs of slowing down. He started out playing the Trumpet at the age of 14; used his music to protest against apartheid, slavery and socio-economic exploration. In 2004 he published his autobiography: Still Grazing: The Musical Journey of Hugh Masekela.
15.K’Naan, Somali, Rapper
At the age of 13, K’naan left his homeland of Somalis in the heat of a civil war. With his family, escapsed to New York, and later to Ontario, Canada where he joined a thriving Somali community and started rapping. In 2006 he releases his debut album “The Dusty Foot Philosopher to modest success.
16.Amadou and Mariam, Malian, Musicians
The visually-impaired wonder couple met at the Institute for the Blind in Bamako, Mali in 1977. Both discovered their love for music and started recording together; married in 1980. The couple is generally considered as pioneers of Afro-blues, a distant genre of music which fuses traditional Malian sounds and music with foreign instruments like rock guitars, Syrian violins and Cuban trumpets.
17.Awilo longomba, Congolese, Musician
The Congoleses musician is one of the most notable proponents of the Soukous music genre which has gained an increasing international acceptance not only in Africa, but the rest of the world. Longomba started out as a drummer, but quit in 1995 to pursue his first love, music.
18.Asa, Nigerian, Musician
Real name: Bukola Elemide. The Nigerian singer-songwriter is one of the most popular new-generation artists to emerge from Africa. She releases her sophomore album ‘Beautiful Imperfection’ last year to immense critical acclaim. The Paris-based artist is renowned for her fusion of contemporary Jazz sound, pop and reggae with Yoruba melodies.
19.D’Banj, Nigerian, Musician
Don Jazzy’s protégé is one of Africa’s most recognizable new generation artists. He has sold over 3 million albums worldwide over the last six years and signed a record deal with Kanye West’s Good Music earlier this year. The Nigerian crooner and Harmonica player is also one of the savviest entrepreneurs in Africa’s music industry.
20.Don Jazzy, Nigerian, Music Producer
Africa’s Number 1 beat maker heads the phenomenal Nigerian record label, Mo’Hits which is home to successful Nigerians artist like D’Banj and Wande Coal. The venerable music producer and occasional singer is also the undisputed King of Social media in Nigeria. Boasts over 130,000 followers on Twitter.