Africa’s Rich Pickings: Only a handful SADC musicians bankable


Congolese rhumba star Koffi Olomide, his countryman Fally Ipupa and South African jazz legend Hugh Masekela have been named as the top earners from the Southern African Development Community region according to the list of Africa’s richest musicians released by the Forbes magazine and Huffington Post. Namibian musicians are nowhere among the richest in Africa, let alone among the richest in the SADC region.

Nearest home on the list is the South African musical sensation and jazz legend, Hugh Masekela, in eighth position. He plays a variety of instruments including the trumpet, flugelhorn and cornet, along with singing and composing his own work. 

South African President Jacob Zuma has highly praised Masekela (for his achievements in arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sports) in South Africa and for everything from a Grammy nomination to the Order of the Ikhamanga. 

He has graced prestigious festivals across the world. 

He is perhaps best known for his acapella-style singing and collaboration with Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo on the Graceland album and in 1987 Graceland tour.

Joining Hugh to give the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region three representatives on the continent musicians' richness list, are the Congolese duo, Koffi Olomide (4) and Fally Ipupa (6).

Koffi Olomide is a Congolese rhumba legend, who formed the Quarter Latin Orchestra band as a lead singer and vocalist before launching his solo career. 

Dubbing his style of music ‘tcha tcho’, Olomide considers it a blend of Soukous music (dance music that originated from African rhumba music). 

He is notorious for taking on controversial subjects in his lyrics, which has earned him both praise and criticism worldwide. 

Raking in over US$136 680 (100 000 Euros) per show, Olomide is extremely popular across Africa and the world. 

One of his albums is listed in Robert Dimery's book titled “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die”.

Fally Ipupa is a former member of Quarter Latin International (along with Koffi Olomide). 

He went solo in 2006 and has been incredibly successful, both in his home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as well as internationally. 

With MTV Africa Music and Kora awards under his belt, he has racked up clothing endorsement deals in Paris as well as high commissions for his shows across the worlds, which are almost always sold out.

Senegalese musician, Youssou N'dour, takes the No 1 spot to his home country. 

This Senegalese singer is widely considered the most famous singer alive in Senegal and much of Africa. 

His style of music, popularly known as Mbalax, is a mix of Senegalese traditional music the Serer language and various styles from around the world including Cuban rhumba, hip hop, jazz and soul. 

With millions around the world in his fan base, he is now the owner of the biggest media house in Senegal, complete with a radio and TV stations and was recently appointed tourism and culture minister in 2012. More importantly, N'dour was responsible for the 1998 FIFA World Cup national anthem titled “La Cour des Grands” along with Axelle Red.

In the second position is P Square. As known by all readers and music lovers in the world, and indeed in Africa, the group is made up of identical twins, Peter and Paul Okoye, who began singing and dancing together back in their small Catholic High School in Jos town, Nigeria. 

After forming the group in 2005, their music has developed a devoted following, particularly in Southern Africa and each album outsold the previous one. 

They were named Artists of the Year at the 2010 Kora Awards and now bring in more than US$150 000 per show. 

Best of all, their shared home is worth more than US$3 million and has been dubbed “Squareville”. Talk about product placement!

In the third position is also Nigerian's D'banj aka Koko Master, aka Dapo Oyebanjo, who has been killing in his native Nigeria and around the world since 2007, and was the first African artist who signed with the music label GOOD, owned by Kanye West. 

A recipient of countless awards, D'banj is known for his unique sound of dance music and Afro beats. He is involved in a variety of investments including a nightclub in Nigeria, brands such as Koko water and was given his own reality shows, “Koko Mansion”.

Salif Keita from Mali is the number five richest African musicians. 

Born and raised in Mali, singer and songwriter Salif has been referred to as the “Golden Voice of Africa,” with his original take on Afro-Pop music. 

Despite his royal heritage (he is directly descended from Sundiata Keita, the founder of Mali Empire), he chose a path of music, bucking the Malian caste system. 

But this means that he was loaded even before his music career took off, explaining his private island and properties across Europe.

Another Nigerian singer and songwriter 2 Face Idiba is ranked seventh in Africa. 

His career began when he joined the hip-hop group, Plantashun Boyz, but went solo in 2004 after the group split. 

His most popular song, “African Queen”, took off after being featured in the movie “Phat Girlz” in 2006, but all of his five albums have been very well received around the world. 

His wealth comes from various real estate investments across Nigeria as well as the US$80 000 he commands per show.

In the ninth position is Banky W born Olubankole Wellington in the US, Banky W moved back to Nigeria and grew up in Lagos, where he began singing at an early age. 

Finding success early in singing competition, most of his wealth has come from endorsement deals with companies such as Estisalat mobile and Samsung in Nigeria. 

He also started the Mr Capable Foundation, an education charity that provides tuition scholarships for disadvantaged children.

Little known Ugandan Jose Chameleone, also popularly known by the stage name Joe in the tenth position. 

He has found his niche in blending traditional Ugandan folk music, a bit of rhumba and a heavy reggae influence. 

He sings English, Swahili and Luganda. His mansion outside of Kampala and four cars (including a Cadillac Escalade and a Benz) are evidence of his success, particularly with his hit, “Valu Valu”. 

He has been credited with changing the face of music in Uganda, as well as making local music accessible to the rest of the world. – Excerpted from New Era

February 2014
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