Angelique Kidjo – Meet The Legend, Respect the Icon

It felt like those World Cup matches where the whole nation, irrespective of tribe and tongue, got behind the national team with hopes of surmounting our opponent and making it through to the knockout round of the competition. This time however it wasn’t an 11 man squad but a one-man army on a mission. Burnaboy, on the grandest stage of them all, standing as arguably the new face of Afrobeats, and the first mainstream Nigerian artist most likely to secure the golden gramophone and bring it home. But it was not to be. Reason being the legend, the icon, Angelique Kidjo. 

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With 3 Billboard No. 1 hits (Logozo, Djin Djin & Eve), 4 Grammy Awards with Djin Djin in 2008, Eve in 2015, Sings in 2016 and Celia in 2020, the album that gave Mama Africa one up against the African Giant, Kidjo has always and will always be a force to reckon with. 

Unashamedly Black, Proudly African and an embodiment of the term Superwoman. Born Angélique Kpasseloko Hinto Hounsinou Kandjo Manta Zogbin Kidjo in Benin, the singer has proven to be a symbol of Africa’s creativity, energy and beauty. 

Time Magazine has called her “Africa’s premier diva”. The BBC has included her in its list of the continent’s 50 most iconic figures, The Guardian listed her as one of their Top 100 Most Inspiring Women in the World. Forbes Magazine has ranked Angelique as the first woman in their list of the Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa. She is a recipient of the prestigious 2015 Crystal Award given by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and the 2016 Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award. In addition to her recording career, Angelique Kidjo is an outspoken advocate of education and health care for women and children. In 2002 UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) named her one of its goodwill ambassadors. She was elected one of four vice presidents of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (Confederation Internationale des Sociétés d’Auteurs et Compositeurs; CISAC) in 2013. Kidjo also released a memoir, Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music (2014). 

Angélique Kidjo started her own Batonga Foundation to help support education for young African girls. She uses her position to speak out against violence in Darfur and for ending poverty and AIDS. She also campaigns for Oxfam — an international confederation of organizations working to find solutions for poverty and injustice. 

Angelique Kidjo’s home in Africa, her brand is Afrocentric and her music full of Africanness. Unapologetic of her background, the singer embraces Voodoo and is fearless enough to have challenged Zimbabwean dictator, Robert Mugabe, 10 years ago, while in his country’s capital, Harare. During a show in the city, Kidjo shouted into the mic: “I can’t understand someone who is burning his own country and abducting his own people. If you live by violence, you die by violence.”

Angelique Kidjo is proof that Black is Gold. She personifies the phrase “Black don’t crack” and in her words “Africa isn’t just diseases”. More than an artist she is a legend, she is an icon, she is Mama Africa. 

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