Over the years we’ve had  various songs  such as Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito”, Pharrel William’s “Happy”, Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect, Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” who left their vicinity to become global hit songs. These songs were not just known among music lovers but became international anthems dominating music charts all over the world. It is however interesting to note that the African Music Industry has also produced some global hit songs despite the fact the industry is still emerging. Without further ado, here are 10 global hit songs that came out of Africa, becoming an  international anthem in the mouths of music lovers all over the world



Best African songs of all time

Index  Song  Country
1 Grazing Grass – Hugh Masekela South Africa
2 Essence – Wizkid Nigeria
3 Pata Pata – Miriam Makeba South Africa
4 Love Nwantiti – Ckay Nigeria
5 Soul Makossa – Manu Dibango Cameroon
6 7 seconds – Youssou Ndour Senegal
7 Wombo Lombo – Angelique Kidjo  Benin 
8 African Queen – 2Baba Nigeria
9 Wavin’ Flag – K’naan Somalia
10 Jerusalema – Master KG South Africa 

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1. Grazing Grass – Hugh Masekela

Grazing Grass by Hugh Masekela is arguably the biggest hit track to come out of Africa. The track was an instrument composed by Philemon Hou and first recorded by  Hugh Masekela. It was released in the United States as a single in 1968. The track attained commercial and critical success around the world clinching the number spot on the billboard hot 100.

Grazing Grass was also ranked the 18th biggest hit of that year and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2018. Masekela included the song in his albums Grazing in the Grass: The Best of Hugh Masekela (2001), Still Grazing (2004), and Live at the Market Theatre (2006). Several version of the track has been recorded by many other musicians.

2. Essence – Wizkid ft Tems

Essence by Wizkid and Tems is one of the global hit songs to come out of Africa. It was released on 13 August 2021 as the fourth single from Wizkid’s fourth studio album, Made in Lagos. The song attained critical and commercial success following its release.

Essence was unanimously declared the song of the summer all over the world in 2021 and became the first African song to go Platinum in the United States and Canada. It also earned a Gold Certification in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. The song received a nomination at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards for Best Global Music and was declared the best song of 2021 according to Rolling Stone. 

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Aside from its cultural influence and certifications Essence holds multiple records on the charts, aside from charting on the US Billboard Hot 100 ( The first Nigerian Song to do so) peaking at No 9, It also spent multiple weeks in the Number one spot on the Billboard World Digital Song Sales chart, Peaked no  28 on the Billboard Global 200 Chart, 30 on the Canadian Hot 100 and 16 on the UK singles chart.


3. Pata Pata – Miriam Makeba

Miriam Makeba’s Pata Pata is one of the global hit songs that came out of Africa.  It was originally released in South Africa by  The Skylarks between 1956 and 1959 but was popularized internationally by Miriam Makeba. Makeba, after establishing a successful singing career, re-recorded and released the song in the United States in 1967.

The song instantly became a commercial hit after it was released charting on the Billboard Hot 100 where it peaked at no 12.  It also charted in Iceland, and Venezuela, where tit topped the chart. It was also released on Makeba’s studio album of the same name, which also charted on the Billboard 200. The song is considered by many to be Makeba’s signature hit and it has since been recorded by many artists.

4. Love Nwantiti – CKay

Love Nwantiti by Ckay is the best-selling African song of all time and one of the global hit songs that came out of Africa. The song was released in 2019 as the second track from CKay’s EP “Ckay the First”  by Chocolate City through Warner Music Group. A remix of the song titled “Love Nwantiti (Ah Ah Ah)” featuring Nigerian singer Joeboy and Ghanaian singer Kuami Eugene, released as a single in 2020, became a commercial success in Nigeria, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

As earlier stated, Love Nwantiti is the best-selling African song in history, with platinum certification in 15 different countries including the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. It  also earned a nomination for the best international song at the 2022 Brit Award



Love Nwantiti also holds several chart records. It topped the chart in several countries such as India, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland. It peaked at number 3 on the UK Singles Chart, No. 26 on the US Billboard Hot 100, No. 2 on the Billboard Global 200 and no 5 on the Canadian Hot 100.

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5. Soul Makossa – Manu Dibango

Manu Dibango’s Soul Makossa is one of the global hit songs from Africa. It was originally released as a single in 1972 as the B-side for “Hymne de la 8e Coupe d’Afrique des Nations”, a song celebrating the Cameroon national football team’s accession to the quarterfinals of the Africa Cup of Nations football tournament.

The song became a commercial success shortly after its release peaking at number 35 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1973. The song also became an international hit leading to even more cover versions by various groups around the world. The original version of the song and a cover by Afrique was on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart at the same time.

The song is best known for the chanted vocal refrain “ma-ma-ko, ma-ma-sa, ma-ko ma-ko-sa”, which was adapted and used in songs by many prominent artists such as Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” and Rihanna’s hit single “Don’t Stop the Music” in 2007.

6. 7 seconds – Youssou Ndour

7 seconds is a song by the Senegalese music legend, Youssou Ndour. It was a commercially successful song and one of the few global hit songs that came out of Africa. It was released in 1994 as a single but was included on Neneh Cherry’s album Man (1996) and  N’Dour’s 1994 album The Guide (Wommat), released shortly after the single.



In terms of chart performance, the song reached the number-one position in numerous countries such as Finland, Iceland, Italy, Switzerland and France, where it spent 16 weeks.   It peaked within the top 10 of the charts in several countries, including Australia,  Germany, Ireland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Due to its critical and commercial success, NME magazine ranked “7 Seconds” number 40 in their list of the 50 best songs of 1994. It also won the MTV Europe Music Award for Best Song of 1994.

7 Wombo Lombo – Angelique Kidjo

Wombo Lombo is the lead single for Angelique Kidjo’s 1996 studio album Fifa, which peaked at No. 10 on Billboard’s World Albums chart. The song by the legendary Beninese musician was a continental smashing hit and one of the few global hit songs that came from Africa.

It was released in 1996  peaking at 95 on the United Kingdom singles chart and 16 on the Billboard Dance/Club Play chart.  According to reviews, the song is one of the few African songs representing the true nature and style of African music and culture. The words are sung in French and English, creating an international feel to the song that allows for wider appeal.

8. African Queen – 2Baba

2Baba’s African Queen is one of few global hit songs from Africa. The song was released in 2004 as one of the lead singles from 2Baba’s highly acclaimed Debut Solo album Face 2 Face.  The song was a commercial success selling lots of copies in Nigeria before spreading through western and southern Africa and eventually to Europe and America.  The track was the beginning of 2baba’s greatness as the king of African pop music.

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9. Wavin’ Flag – K’naan

“Wavin’ Flag” is a song by Somali-Canadian artist K’naan from his album Troubadour. It was released on March 18, 2018, and became a hit in Canada and reached #2 on the Canadian Hot 100. The song was originally written for Somalia and the aspirations of its people for freedom.

In 2010, the song was remade by a group of Canadian artists, following the 2010 Haiti earthquake. It was released on March 12, 2010, and went straight to #1 on the Canadian charts and 89 on the UK Singles

The song became a truly global hit when it was chosen as Coca-Cola’s promotional anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. This version reached the top ten in more than twenty different charts around the world. It is certified platinum in 4 different countries including Canada and Gold in the United Kingdom and Germany.

10. Jerusalema – Master KG ft Nomcebo

“Jerusalema” is a song by South African DJ and record producer Master KG featuring South African vocalist Nomcebo. The song was released on 29 November 2019 and is one of the few global hit songs that came out of Africa. It was later included on Master KG’s second album of the same title, released in January 2020.

The remix of the song featuring Burna Boy was released on 19 June 2020. It reached number one in Belgium, Netherlands, Romania and Switzerland, while peaking in the top ten of multiple other European countries. It is also charted in the Billboard world chart and the Billboard global 200.



The music video of the song released on 21 December 2019 has generated half a billion views on YouTube. Making it one of the most viewed African videos on the platform. The song is certified Diamond in France; Platinum in 6 countries  and Gold in the United States and Denmark.

Summary

For the sake of emphasis here is a recap of the 10 global hit songs that came out of Africa.

  1. Grazing Grass – Hugh Masekela (South Africa)
  2. Essence – Wizkid (Nigeria)
  3. Pata Pata – Miriam Makeba (South Africa)
  4. Love Nwantiti – Ckay (Nigeria)
  5. Soul Makossa – Manu Dibango (Cameroon)
  6. 7 seconds – Youssou Ndour (Senegal)
  7.  Wombo Lombo – Angelique Kidjo (Benin)
  8.  African Queen – 2Baba (Nigeria)
  9.  Wavin’ Flag – K’naan (Somalia)
  10. Jerusalema – Master KG (South Africa)



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