FORBES – The 40 Most Powerful Celebrities In Africa

The debut list of The 40 Most Powerful Celebrities In Africa includes actors, cerebral authors, musicians, movie producers, supermodels, TV personalities and athletes, drawn from all across Africa and traverses the generational divide.

  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.
  2. YOUSSOU N’DOUR, 51, Senegalese, Musician: In 2004, the Rolling Stone Magazine referred to the Senegal’s most coveted musician as “perhaps the most famous singer alive.”
  3. DIDIER DROGBA, 33, 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 finesse on the pitch has consistently earned him the admiration of adoring fans across the globe.
  4. ANGELIQUE KIDJO, 51, Beninoise, Musician: At 51, the Beninoise Grammy-award winning musician is still one of Africa’s greatest divas.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  11. TOUMANI DIABATÉ, Malian, Musician: One of the world’s most famous Kora players and an extremely popular Malian musician, Diabete has gained an international renown for his fusion of traditional Malian music with western influences like flamenco, jazz and the blues.
  12. OLIVER MTUKUDZI, 59, Zimbabwean, Musician: Before the year runs out, the Zimbabwean legend will collaborate with Alicia Keys on an album that’ll sensitize African mothers on the importance of HIV programmes.
  13. HAILE GEBRSELASSIE, 38, Ethiopian, Athlete: The world’s number 1 long 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 2 Olympic Gold medals for 10,000 Metre races.
  14. KHALED HADJ IBRAHIM, 51, Algerian, Musician: Popularly referred to as ‘Khaled’, the Algerian singer and songwriter is the most famous rai singer in the world.
  15. SAMUEL ETO’O, 30, 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.
  16. ALEK WEK, 34, Sudanese, Supermodel: She first made her professional debut at the age of 18, featuring in music videos by Tina Turner and Janet Jackson. Today, as one of the world’s most recognizable models, she has modeled for Calvin Klein, Victoria’s Secret and Christian Lacroix.
  17. LIYA KEBEDE, 33, Ethiopian, Supermodel: Born and raised in Ethiopia, Kebede stepped into the global limelight in 2000 when Gucci offered her an exclusive contract for its Fall/Winter 2000 fashion show.
  18. DOBET GNAHORÉ, 29, Ivorian, Musician: The Ivorian Grammy-award winning dropped out of school at the age of 12 to start singing alongside her father, the famed master percussionist, Boni Gnahore.
  19. GENEVIEVE NNAJI, 32, 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.
  20. KOFFI OLOMIDÉ, 55, Congolese, Musician: Olomidé is one of the more famous performers of soukous- an extremely popular and peculiar genre of African music which intermixes vigorous gyrations with finger-style guitar of Rhumba and African melodies.
  21. NEILL BLOMKAMP, 32, South African, Movie Director: The South African movie director and scriptwriter shook the world with District 9, Africa’s first Sci-fi which tells the story of a bunch of extraterrestrial refugees who find themselves in a South African slum.
  22. SOUAD MASSI, 39, Algerian, Musician: The Algerian-born, Paris-based Guitarist and songwriter is one of North Africa’s most coveted musicians.
  23. BAABA MAAL, 58, Senegalese, Musician: Arguably Senegal’s biggest music export since Yossou N’dour. The regal Senegalese musician is usually referred to as ‘The Nightingale’ for his resonant and transcendent vocals.
  24. HUGH MASEKELA, 72, South African, Musician: The 72 year-old South African Jazz maestro and internationally-acclaimed trumpeter shows no signs of slowing down.
  25. K’NAAN, 33, Somali, Rapper: At the age of 13, K’Naan left his homeland of Somalia in the heat of a civil war. With his family, escaped to New York, and later to Ontario, Canada where he joined a thriving Somali community and started rapping. In 2006 he released his debut album, The Dusty Foot Philosopher to modest success. His biggest break came in 2009 when Coca-Cola used a remixed version of his hit single, ‘Wavin’ Flag’ as its anthem for the 2010 World Cup.
  26. 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.
  27. AWILO LONGOMBA, Congolese, Musician: The Congolese 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.
  28. ERIC WAINAINA, 38, Kenyan, Musician: Kenya’s most famous singer-songwriter studied at Berklee College of Music.
  29. BINYAVANGA WAINAINA, 40, Kenyan, Author: The Kenyan writer authored the essay “How To Write About Africa”- one of the most satirical pieces ever written about the continent.
  30. NGUGI WA THIONGO, 73, Kenyan, Author: Kenya’s most cerebral author and playwright published his first novel, Weep Not, Child in 1964.
  31. FRESHLYGROUND, South African, Musicians: The 7-member South African Afro-fusion band started out in Capetown in 2002. Success came almost immediately. In 2003 the band released their debut album, Jika Jika, which went on to achieve immense commercial success.
  32. CHIMAMANDA ADICHIE, 34, Nigerian, Writer: The Nigerian-born author is arguably the most popular new-generation writer to emerge from Africa and one of the continent’s leading contemporary literary voices at the moment.
  33. ROKIA TRAORÉ, 37, Malian, Musician: The daughter of a Malian Diplomat is one of the more popular new generation artists to emerge from Africa.
  34. TUFACE IDIBIA, 36, Nigerian, Musician: The Nigerian-born crooner is one of Africa’s most recognizable new-generation singers.
  35. P-SQUARE, 29, Nigerian, Musicians: The Nigerian R&B duo attained continental superstardom with romance-laced lyrics and Michael Jackson-styled dance moves.
  36. DON JAZZY, 30, Nigerian, Music Producer: Africa’s Number 1 beat maker heads the phenomenal Nigerian record label, Mo’ Hits which is home to successful Nigerians artists like D’Banj and Wande Coal.
  37. D’BANJ, 31, Nigerian, Musician: 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.
  38. NNEKA, 31, Nigerian, Musician: The Nigerian-German soul musician has become one of Africa’s more popular international singers.
  39. ASA, 29, Nigerian, Musician: The Nigerian singer-songwriter is one of the most popular new-generation artists to emerge from Africa.
  40. PATRICIA AMIRA, 33, Kenyan, TV Personality: Africa’s own answer to Oprah. The Kenyan-born media queen is one of the continent’s most popular talk-show hosts.


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