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CNN celebrates 10th anniversary of African Voices



Meets Adichie, Kuti, Hamri
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of African Voices, CNN looks back at some of the characters featured over the last decade. The first African Voices show featured then President of Botswana Ian Kharma and the programme has since met icons such as Grammy award winner Angelique Kidjo, Noble Prize winners Denis Mukwege and Wolfe Soyinka, professional basketball player Joel Embiid, actress Lupita Nyong’o and comedian Trevor Noah.

The goal of the show has been to shine a light on the amazing stories and adventures from the biggest, brightest and boldest personalities on the continent. For 10 years, CNN has explored all parts of the continent to show Africa’s diverse talent and personalities while being a vehicle to introduce the world to people doing incredible things. In this special episode, African Voices revisits some of its most popular guests including Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie, Moroccan executive producer and director Sanaa Hamri and Nigerian musician Femi Kuti.

When African Voices first visited Chimamanda Adichie in 2009, the author spoke of the rejection she often faced when trying to get her first book published. Since then, she’s seen her Nigerian-centric novels receive numerous global awards and acclaim.


“I’ve always said that if I had not had the good fortune to be read very widely across the world, I would be somewhere writing completely unknown but I would be writing and, and for me, that’s really what matters. The writing gives meaning to my life. I’m very fortunate that people have read the books, but the writing is what matters.”

Since her last appearance on African Voices, Adichie has discovered a new love – motherhood. She tells the programme how having a child has affected her writing.

“My daughter tears up my books. She’s the commander in chief of my life… And, you know, the thing is to speak honestly about motherhood is to acknowledge that there are ways in which your life has changed forever, that you no longer have the sort of ultimate time for yourself and for your art. But what it also means is that you’ve opened up a new emotional plane that you can you can draw from for your writing that can feed your art.”

Next, CNN travels to the US to meet Sanaa Hamri, an executive producer and director of popular show Empire. When African Voices first met Hamri in 2014, the programme learnt about her journey from Morocco to New York and how determination saw her directing music videos for acts like Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj.

She fondly remembers her journey since moving to New York.

“It was so funny, it happened all of a sudden, like, right after I saw you [African Voices] one minute, I was, you know, still doing music videos and doing a TV show here and there. And then all of a sudden, I was an executive producer on Empire.”

Lastly, African Voices meets Nigerian musician Femi Kuti. Originally meeting back in 2009, Kuti has since release seven albums, earned Grammy nominations and has performed all over the world. He tells the programme about his success: “I’ve worked very hard to be where I am today, I’m 40 years now playing, over 120 songs, so I’ve been everywhere.”


Kuti tells CNN about one of his greatest accomplishments – The Shrine. The entertainment centre has become a safe haven for all to come and enjoy music as he explains: “Maintaining The Shrine, keeping The Shrine and performing free, I don’t think there is anything more important for me than that. Keeping The Shrine alive now. And doing it, playing free, week in week out, I think that’s a very big achievement for us here.”

The Shrine in Lagos has become an international attraction and attracted high-profile visitors like French President Emmanuel Macron.

“He was here I think in 2002, he watched me and he just saw this place was like on fire… When he left, he wanted to always come back. Fortunately, he became President of France and he had the opportunity to come back, so he contacted me and he said he wanted to come back, and then he came we met we became friends over [the] meeting.”


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