27 Best Songs About Africa

Africa has rightfully been a source of inspiration for songwriters and singers throughout history. African themes are in the lyrics of countless songs, with subjects ranging from celebratory to political and everything in between. Below, you can discover some of the best songs about Africa.

1. “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” by Shakira

Song year: 2010

If you watched the 2010 FIFA World Cup, you probably knew this song by heart. Colombian heartthrob and pop singer Shakira collaborated with South African band Freshlyground to release “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” as the official theme song of the World Cup in 2010, for which South Africa was the host country.

The lyrics are a fusion of English (or Spanish) hype speech with the chorus sung in Cameroonian Fang.

2. “Mama Africa” by Akron

Song year: 2007

Released in 2007 by the Senegalese-American singer and record producer Akon, “Mama Africa” is a love song to Akon’s African homeland. Instead of focusing on struggles and strife, Akron emphasizes Africa’s beauty.

His lighthearted and positive lyrics match the catchy reggae sound. Mama Africa reached the billboard charts in the UK and garnered even more popularity when rapper 50 Cent collaborated on a remix of the song.

3. “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” by Kanye West ft. Jay Z

Song year: 2005

Winner of the Grammy Award for Best Rap Song, “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” is a hip-hop song about wealth, status, and the dark side of the material luxuries he enjoys as a famous artist.

Kanye boasts about having diamonds and bling to show off his success while at the same time shedding light on the Sierra Leone civil war and the devastating illegal diamond trade. Still, the song veers more towards a celebration of West’s financial successes.

4. “Africa For Africa” by Femi Kuti

Song year: 2010

Son of the late Fela Kuti, the founder of Afrobeat, Femi Kuti follows in his father’s footsteps. His music blends Afrobeat with reggae. “Africa For Africa” is from the 2010 album of the same name. It is a call to Africans to unite as one people.

It calls for a united Africa, encouraging all Africans to band together as one people against the oppression and corruption throughout the continent. Femi Kuti’s lyrics in “Africa For Africa” carry on his activist father’s legacy.

5. “Africa Unite” by Bob Marley and the Wailers

Song year:1979

Bob Marley needs little introduction as his fame knows no bounds. Not only is he single-handedly responsible for the popularization of reggae music around the world, but he’s also a beacon of peace.

He was also a proud Rastafarian, with many of his songs portraying Africa as the promised land to which all Rastafarians will return to live out their days in harmony. “Africa Unite” is the best example of this idea of an African Utopia.

6. “To Zion” by Lauryn Hill

Song year: 1998

“To Zion” is from the wildly popular neo-soul album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which made Hill the first female rapper to reach certified Diamond status.

“To Zion” is a song Hill wrote for her newborn son. She writes about going against all odds and the advice of her friends and managers by deciding to have a child while at the peak of her music career. It’s a beautiful expression of love along with the trials and tribulations of motherhood.

7. “Circle of Life” by Elton John and Tim Rice

Song year: 1994

Arguably the most famous Disney song of all time, “Circle of Life,” was composed by award-winning singer and songwriter Elton John in collaboration with lyricist Tim Rice for the movie The Lion King.

Singer Lebo M. and Carmen Twillie sing this iconic song as the film begins, depicting a stunning natural scene of the African animal kingdom saluting the newly born Simba. The opening of the song is in the South African Zulu language, narrating a Lion father’s rise to conquer. 

8. “Africa” by D’Angelo

Song year: 2000

D’Angelo is most famous for his sensual R&B and soul songs, like “Africa,” which shows D’Angelo’s range as an artist. Released on the Certified Platinum album Voodoo in 2000, “Africa” is about fatherhood and identity.

D’Angelo expresses his connection with Africa as he feels out of place as a black man in America. The song then discusses his calling as a father to instill wisdom in his children and to provide all the love and dedication they need.

9. “Africa” by Toto

Song year: 1982

“Africa” is a hopeful and positive song by Rock band Toto that reached the top of Billboard charts in the US, UK, and Australia, to name a few. Writer and band member David Paich wrote the song after watching a heart-wrenching documentary about poverty and hunger in Africa.

Pictures of African nature scenes in the song come from articles about the African savannah Paich read about in National Geographic. The irony of a white man writing about a place he has only read about is not lost on Paich, which almost caused him to nix the song altogether. 

10. “Radio Africa” by Latin Quarter

Song year: 1985

Despite the name, Latin Quarter is a British 80s band that fuses rock with reggae, pop, and folk. They are known as a one-hit-wonder band. Coincidentally, their hit song is “Radio Africa,” a politically charged critique of foreign aid and imperialist interests.

Radio Africa is a metaphor for the news out of Africa, which according to the lyrics, is all bad. News of recession, repression, and corruption.

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