Angelique Kidjo: the diva from Benin carries with her a fierce history

Her debut album Parakou was released in 1990, but it took her hit song Agolo for her to burst into global reckoning and galvanise the world’s dance floors in 1994. In the Yoruba language “agolo” refers to the metaphysical significance of time, a cyclical phenomenon conjoining life with death – life being a gift that must be cherished and lived wisely. Agolo was a fervent wail of catharsis from the womb of Africa, bearing swathes of history, suffering and defiance. It shook souls and moved feet through its rhythmic sense of elation and release.

Sanya Osha

Angelique Kidjo, the energetic singer-songwriter and activist from the Republic of Benin, represents a rare African phenomenon.

In many respects, she belongs to the illustrious musical lineage of “Mama Africas” – the likes of South Africa’s Miriam MakebaLetta Mbulu and Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Cape Verde’s Cesaria Evora and Mali’s Oumou Sangare.

These powerful maternal personages are distinctive for their regal bearing, a grand sense of responsibility in sharing Africa’s cultural heritage, and protecting the dignity of the African woman. They may not always articulate this political and aesthetic worldview in so many words, but their carriage says it all….