Here is a list of the top 10 celebrities from Africa. They all put their fame to good use to help people in need who are from their hometowns and throughout Africa.

1. Chinua Achebe —  Nigerian Novelist, Publisher and Educator

Achebe was born in Nigeria on November 16, 1930. He recently died at the age of 82 on March 21, 2013. He taught at different universities in America and is known for his book, “Things Fall Apart,” one of his earlier pieces of writings that was published in 1958. “Things Fall Apart” is what led him to be called the “patriarch of the African novel.” Many of his writing pieces go back to his Nigerian roots.

2. Youssou N’dour — Senegalese Musician

N’dour was born in 1959 in Dakar, Senegal. His most popular music came out in the late 1980s and 1990s. In 2004, the Rolling Stone Magazine wrote that he was “perhaps the most famous singer alive.” N’dour had the tendency to mix pop and rock with sabar, which is the traditional dance music of Senegal. N’dour has toured with stars like Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Tracy Chapman and Dido. He has been the subject of two award-winning films: “Retour à Gorée” and “Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love.” He also owns a night club, a radio station and a television station. N’dour is a UNICEF ambassador to help bring an end to the humanitarian crisis in the horn of Africa.

3. Didier Drogba — Ivorian Soccer Player

Drogba is a world-pronounced soccer player, but he is most well-known for helping end war during the civil war in Cote D’Ivoire. Drogba fell to his knees on live television after his team qualified for the World Cup, pleading that Cote D’Ivoire give up the war, and it worked. In 2009 he donated $5 million to help with the construction of a hospital in his hometown of Abidjan.

4. Angelique Kidjo — Beninoise Musician

Kidjo is a Grammy award-winning musician. She has collaborated with Alicia Keys, Josh Groban and Carlos Santana. Kidjo owns her own nonprofit organization, Batonga Foundation, which is based in Washington. It promotes and funds education for African girls. She is also a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador.

5. Akon — Senegalese Musician

Akon has sold millions of his three studio-recorded albums. He co-owns a record label called Kon Live that helped get Lady Gaga and T-Pain’s career started. He also owns Konvict clothing, and he founded Konfidence Foundation, which promotes education and health causes in Senegal and elsewhere in Africa.

6. Wole Soyinka — Nigerian Playwright

In 1986, Soyinka became the first African to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Soyinka has produced “The Lion and the Jewel,” “A Dance of the Forests,” “The Strong Breed” and 17 other plays.

7. Salif Keita — Malian Musician

Keita was denied by his family because he decided to pursue his career as a musician, which was considered beneath his noble family’s status. He was banished when he was 18 years old because of the superstition that albinos were bad luck. His latest album was decimated to stop discrimination against albinos in Africa and the rest of the world.

8. Yvonne Chaka Chaka — South African Musician

Chaka Chaka is known as the “Princess of Africa.” She was known for her girly pop music. She now devotes her time to her work as a United Nations Goodwill ambassador and representative of Africa.

9. Oumou Sangare — Malian Musician

Sangare often performed music known as Wassoulou. Wassoulou is often sung by women. This music consists of lyrics having to do with women’s rights issues and feminism. Sangare is a United Nations Goodwill ambassador and was named an official ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2003.

10. Femi Kuti — Nigerian Musician

Kuti uses his music to downsize corruption, poverty and other socioeconomic issues prevalent in Nigeria and Africa through his lyrics. In his album, “Fight to Win” (which sold over 500,000 copies,) he collaborated with Common, Most Def and Jaguar Fight.

— Priscilla Rodarte
Sources: All Music, Biography, Forbes, NY Times
Photo: The Economist

It is important to realize that music is much more than entertainment.  Music says something about our heritage, our culture, and the kinds of people we strive to be.  Also important to note, music exists with a wide variation throughout the world.  Sure, the British invasion was one great example America witnessed. But let’s take a look at some contemporary acts you may not be familiar with.  In the spirit of representing the diversity of cultures and heritages that meet in Africa, here are five notable African musicians that you should be adding to your iPod.

1. P-Square

If you are in the mood for some R&B, check out Nigerian duo P-Square.  Peter and Paul Okoye are identical twins, hence the name P-Square.  With six albums (including a greatest hits compilation), and a record deal with famous Senegalese-American rapper/singer Akon, P-Square has quite the resume.

2. Koffi Olomide

Hailing from the Congo, Olomide is known for combining traditionally Latin grooves with African dance music.  In particular, Olomide’s style is considered to be soukous, which has its roots in rumba.  His lyricism and vocals have been highly praised by music critics across the globe.

3. D’banj

D’banj’s blend of Afro-Beats with electronic music caught the eye of hip-hop virtuoso Kanye West.  In 2011, D’banj signed with West’s GOODMusic label.  He is also well known for his humanitarian efforts as Nigeria’s Youth Ambassador for Peace to the United Nations.

4. Jose Chameleone

Jose Chameleone is a Ugandan musician known for mixing folk music with reggae and Latin influences.  Singing in English, Swahili, and Luganda (the major language of Uganda), Chameleone shows how he can “blend in” with multiple cultures.

5. Yvonne Chaka Chaka

A South African singer of the Mbaqanga genre, Chaka Chaka is both a musician and a scholar who teaches literature at the University of South Africa.  Mbaqanga is a style sometimes considered to be like jazz, but has roots in traditional Zulu music.  Chaka Chaka has been active in the South African music scene since 1985, and has a tremendous catalog.

Taylor Diamond

Sources: All Africa, The African Economist
Photo: LifeStyle