THESE are the top ten African Celebrities to emerge from Africa, compiled by Forbes.
10. Femi Kuti, 49, Nigerian, Musician
The eldest son of Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti has his father’s fiery blood flowing through his veins. 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. In 2001 he collaborated with American acts, Common, Mos Def and Jaguar Fight on his album, Fight to Win, which sold over 500,000 copies. The album is widely regarded as the most influential Neo-Afrobeat album of the 21st century.
9. Oumou Sangare, 43, Malian, Musician
One of Mali’s most idolized musical legends, Sangare popularized Wassoulou, a popular genre of traditional music peculiar to Mali. Wassoulou is typically performed by women accompanied by traditional instruments like the Djembe drum and the Kora (a traditional African harp). 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 official ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2003. Also a successful entrepreneur: In 2006 she partnered with a Chinese automobile company to create a car named after her, Oum Sang.
8. Yvonne Chaka Chaka, 46, 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.” Now devotes her time to philanthropy as a United Nations Goodwill ambassador and UN envoy for Africa.
7. Salif Keita, 62, Malian, Musician
A direct descendant of Sundiata Keita, the founder of the Mali 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 on to play for Les Ambassadeurs, a Malian music group before striking out on his own. Success has been phenomenal. His latest album, La Différence is dedicated to ending the stigmatization of albinos across Africa and the world.
6. Wole Soyinka, 77, Nigerian, Playwright
In 1986 the Nigerian Playwright 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.
5. Akon, 38, Senegalese, Musician
The Senegalese-American hip-hop act stepped into the limelight in 2004 with the release of ‘Locked 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. Also one of Hip-Hop’s business savviest: Co-owns Kon Live, an Interscope-backed record label which helped jumpstart the career of Lady Gaga and T-Pain; Also owns Konvict clothing. Maintains strong bond with home country, founded the Konfidence Foundation which promotes education and health causes in Senegal and elsewhere in Africa.
4. Angelique Kidjo, 51, Beninoise, Musician
At 51, the Beninoise 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.
3. Didier Drogba, 33, Ivorian, Soccer Player
A former striker for England’s Chelsea football club and captain of the Cote D’Ivoire national team, Drogba’s dexterous strength and finesse on the pitch has consistently earned him the admiration of adoring fans across the globe. But it is his transcendent compassion that has endeared him to both soccer aficionados and the uninitiated. In 2006 Drogba had played a pivotal role in establishing peace to Cote D’Ivoire after five years of civil war and unrest. 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. In 2009, he donated his $5 million endorsement fee to the construction of a hospital in Abidjan, his hometown. Very recently, the UNDP Goodwill Ambassador joined the Ivory Coast Peace Commission, an organization which aims to heal the wounds left by years of fighting in Ivory Coast.
2. Youssou N’dour, Age: 51, 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. He helped popularize Mbalax, an inimitable genre of music which blends western sounds like Pop and rock with sabar, the traditional dance music of the Senegalese. During the course of his career, N’dour has toured with stars like Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Tracy Chapman and Dido and has been the subject of two award-winning films- Retour à Gorée and Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love. Also a shrewd businessman, the Grammy-award winner owns a Nightclub, a record label and a Television station. The UNICEF ambassador has been vocal in his campaign for an end to the humanitarian crisis in the horn of Africa.
1. Chinua Achebe, 80, Nigerian, Novelist
The father of African literature authored the 1958 classic, Things Fall Apart which has been translated into over 50 languages and has sold over 10 million copies internationally. In September, Achebe made headlines when he turned down a $1million offer from American Hip-Hop act, Curtis Jackson (A.K.A 50 Cent) for permission to use the Things Fall Apart title for an upcoming movie. The renowned novelist is also an essayist, political critic and currently serves as Professor of African studies at Brown University, Rhode Island.
Adapted from: http://www.forbes.com/