1. Chinua Achebe
Age – 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.
2. Wole Soyinka
Age – 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.
3. Femi Kuti
Age – 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.
4. Genevieve Nnaji
Age – 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. 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. The Nollywood diva has become one of Africa’s most recognizable faces, and has featured in over 80 successful Nigerian blockbusters.
5. Chimamanda Adichie
Age – 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. In 2006, her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun won the coveted Orange Prize.
6. Tuface Idibia
Age – 36, Nigerian, Musician
The Nigerian-born crooner is one of Africa’s most recognizable new-generation singers. He started out his career in the mid 90s with the Plantashun boys, a defunct Nigerian boy band that achieved modest recognition in local circles but disbanded in 2004. Immediately struck out independently, finding success and international renown for hits such as ‘African Queen’ which has become one of the most popular African love songs of all time. Idibia is a recipient of several local and international awards, including the MTV Award for Best African Artist in 2005.
7. Don Jazzy
Age – 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. The venerable music producer and occasional singer is also the undisputed King of Social media in Nigeria. Boasts over 130,000 followers on Twitter. Earlier this year, he signed on to Kanye West’s GOOD Music record label along with his protégé, D’Banj. Jazzy also earned production credits for his work on Kanye West and Jay-Z’s collaborative album- Watch The Throne.
Age – 31, Nigerian, Musician
Don Jazzy’s protégé is one of Africa’s most recognizable new generation artistes. 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; has stamped his now famous ‘Koko’ brand name unto everything from mobile phones, an entertainment lounge, bottled water and even Garri (a Nigerian staple meal made of processed cassava).
9. Nneka Age – 31, Nigerian, Musician The Nigerian-German soul musician has become one of Africa’s more popular international singers. Contents of her lyrics dwell majorly on about poverty, war and related social ills. First came into the limelight in 2004 after performing as an opening act for Jamaican Reggae act, Sean Paul during a concert in Germany. Appeared on the David Letterman show in January 2010, and has collaborated with American Hip-Hop act, Nas, for a remix of her internationally acclaimed hit single- Heartbeat. Nneka is a brand ambassador for Nigerian Telecoms Company, Starcomms.
Age – 29, Nigerian, Musician
Real name: Bukola Elemide. The Nigerian singer-songwriter is one of the most popular new-generation artists to emerge from Africa. She released 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 traditional Yoruba melodies.