People worldwide can relate to the narratives and social problems in Africa through music. The continent is full of culture and stories, which artists use to create their work.
If you’re ever feeling down, needing some inspiration, or want to simply appreciate what Africa has to offer, these are the 20 songs about Africa.
- 1. “Africa” by Toto
- 2. “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” by Kanye West
- 3. “Under African Skies” by Paul Simon
- 4. “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” by Shakira ft. Freshlyground
- 5. “Africa Bamba” by Santana
- 6. “Africa Lando” by Novalima
- 7. “Mozambique” by Bob Dylan
- 8. “African Queen” by 2Baba
- 9. “Buffalo Soldier” by Bob Marley & The Wailers
- 10. “It’s Nearly Africa” by XTC
- 11. “Africa Is Where My Heart Lies” by Miriam Makeba
- 12. “Circle of Life” by Carmen Twillie and Lebo M.
- 13. “Africa” by D’Angelo
- 14. “Radio Africa” by Latin Quarter
- 15. “Mama África” by Chico César
- 16. “African Beauty” by Diamond Platnumz ft. OMARION
- 17. “Ozumba Mbadiwe (Mixed)” by Reekado Banks
- 18. “Mama Africa” by Akon
- 19. “Scatterlings of Africa” by Johnny Clegg
- 20. “Out of Africa” by John Barry
1. “Africa” by Toto
Being empathic can be a good thing. In fact, it might be what the world needs right now. “Africa” by Toto is one of the most popular songs that has been inspired by Africa, and for good reason.
The lyrics are full of nostalgia and imagery of a better time. Life other than work should not be taken for granted. “Africa” is a reminder of that. The song also has a message of hope, which is always needed.
2. “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” by Kanye West
Kanye West’s “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” is another song that tells a story of Africa. It’s a little more critical of the diamond industry, and how it has affected the lives of children being exploited for labor.
This song won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Song and no doubt, its success has drawn attention to the issues it addresses.
The music video provided clear visuals of child labor, and the video closes with a caption, “Please purchase conflict-free diamonds” which is a call to action for diamond consumers.
3. “Under African Skies” by Paul Simon
A transcendent song about knowing your roots, “Under African Skies” by Paul Simon was one of the tracks that he had made with South African musicians that flew to New York.
This is a track that showcased African talents to the world and introduced African music to a whole new audience. It was also a reminder that art can be used as a tool for social change.
4. “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” by Shakira ft. Freshlyground
Shakira’s “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” is an Afro-fusion song featuring Freshlyground, a South African band. The song was made for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which was held in South Africa.
The lyrics compare achieving your goals to a soldier’s battlefield. The Cameroonian track entitled “Zamina Mina (Zangalewa)” by Golden Sounds is heavily used throughout the song.
The song was a hit worldwide, having sold over 15 million downloads. You’d want to dance to this song while also getting pumped up for a new day.
5. “Africa Bamba” by Santana
A song about ethnic and cultural diversity, Santana collaborated with an African band Toure Kunda to make “Africa Bamba,” an upbeat song that pays homage to various countries with different cultures.
The track features percussion instruments and beautifully-sung Latin and African rhythms that will surely make you groove.
6. “Africa Lando” by Novalima
A Peruvian band that fuses Afro-Peruvian, electronic, and hip-hop sounds together, Novalima’s “Africa Lando” is an African-inspired song.
The track features an array of percussion instruments and has a very funky bassline that will get you moving. The blend of various musical styles makes this song unique and fresh.
7. “Mozambique” by Bob Dylan
This folk love song by Bob Dylan is inspired by the country of Mozambique. The lyrics tell a story of a man who enjoyed his stay in Mozambique, with the scenery and the person he’s with.
Mozambique is a country located in southeastern Africa, and it is known for its beautiful beaches. The song has a simple melody that is nice to play when you’re relaxing or on vacation.
8. “African Queen” by 2Baba
2Baba has created a feel-good R&B song about an African woman who is confident and beautiful. The lyrics praise an African woman to whom the narrator is attracted.
The song is inspired by Western African folk music and was considered a breakthrough in African music internationally. The song has a very catchy hook and lovely lyrics that are great for a valentine’s day playlist.
9. “Buffalo Soldier” by Bob Marley & The Wailers
“Buffalo Soldier” is about the African-American Buffalo Soldiers who fought in the American Indian Wars. The song talks about how these soldiers were mistreated and symbolizes black resistance.
The lyrics of Marley’s song are empowering and meaningful, while the catchy beat makes it one of Marley’s most popular tracks.
10. “It’s Nearly Africa” by XTC
The English new wave band XTC uses Africa as a stand-in for any society experiencing conflict. The track is part of the band’s album ‘English Settlement,’ which is known for its take on social issues. With the playful percussion and whimsical lyrics, the song is a light-hearted take on a serious issue.
11. “Africa Is Where My Heart Lies” by Miriam Makeba
South African singer Miriam Makeba hits her soulful vocals in this track about her love for Africa. The track is part of Makeba’s 2000 album ‘Homeland’ which has been nominated for a Grammy. The song was released a few days before the celebration of South African Freedom day.
The lyrics talk about how she values her African roots and how Africa is a part of her. This sentimental song will make you reflect on your connection to your homeland.
12. “Circle of Life” by Carmen Twillie and Lebo M.
If you have watched ‘The Lion King,’ then you are probably familiar with this song. The opening track of the film, “Circle of Life” is a powerful and emotional song that speaks about the cycle of life.
Composed by Elton John and Tim Rice, the song talks about how everything is mysteriously connected and remains part of the world’s wonders.
The opening part of the song was sung by South African composer Lebo M. It’s an iconic song that beautifully represents the African continent.
13. “Africa” by D’Angelo
This nostalgic song by D’Angelo is about the singer’s home continent, Africa. He talks about how proud he is of his African heritage, the beauty of love, and that everyone deserves to be loved.
‘Voodoo’ was in the works when he had the idea to write a song about his son’s birth. The result is a musical ode to both his African heritage and parenthood. The track has a classic R&B sound that is smooth and relaxing.
14. “Radio Africa” by Latin Quarter
A mournful but somewhat catchy reggae tune, “Radio Africa” by Latin Quarter is a song about the political situation in South Africa and what the Western world was trying to solve.
The lyrics are direct and to the point, criticizing the British and American governments for their policies at the time. It’s a powerful song that highlights the struggles of the African people.
15. “Mama África” by Chico César
This reggae song is a tribute to all the African mothers who have to raise their children alone. It’s a sad but beautiful song about the strength of African women.
The lyrics talk about how these women are the backbone of the continent and how they deserve respect and love. This track is one of César’s most famous songs and it will make you appreciate your mother even more.
16. “African Beauty” by Diamond Platnumz ft. OMARION
This afro-beat song is an ode to the African woman. Tanzanian singer Diamond Platnumz sings about how beautiful African women are.
Being in love with an African woman is the main theme of the song. The track features American singer Omarion and it’s a catchy and feel-good song that will put a smile on your face.
17. “Ozumba Mbadiwe (Mixed)” by Reekado Banks
Nigerian singer Reekado Banks sings about the hustle and grind of the African man. The song goes deeper to explore the idea of patriotism for a nation that has abandoned you. You are left to fend for yourself, so you put your well-being first.
The title ‘Ozumba Mbadiwe’ comes from the expressway in Lagos Island that leads to Lekki Toll Gate, where many protesters were killed in the #EndSARS movement.
The Nigerian government has been accused of violence against its citizens and this song is a way for Banks to express his frustration.
18. “Mama Africa” by Akon
Africa has so much love and kindness to offer, and this is what Akon talks about in his song “Mama Africa.” The singer pays homage to the continent and its people.
He talks about how Africa remains beautiful despite all the hardships it has faced. The track features a reggae sound, which is perfect for a sunny day. It’s a feel-good song with a positive message that will make you appreciate Africa even more.
19. “Scatterlings of Africa” by Johnny Clegg
A song about displaced people, “Scatterlings of Africa” by Johnny Clegg is a powerful track that will make you think about the refugee crisis.
The main theme of the song is to express love and solidarity with people who have been victimized by colonialism and war.
This song pays tribute to the struggles and hardships of the Apartheid era in Africa. This track is special because it allows us to show love for Africa and its people through music.
20. “Out of Africa” by John Barry
A sensational and romantic track, “Out of Africa” by John Barry is the perfect song to listen to when you’re missing someone.
As this track is made for the romantic movie with the same title, it certainly gives off a nostalgic and longing feeling. The song is performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and it features a beautiful symphony. It’s a classical track that has won an Oscar for Best Original Score.
Africa is rich in culture and history, and there are so many songs that talk about the continent. These tracks offer a different perspective of Africa, from its struggles to its beauty.
By listening to these tracks, we feel closer to our roots and have a newfound appreciation and understanding for the continent. Whether you’re looking for a feel-good song or a track that will make you reflect, these songs about Africa are a way to give you some perspective.