Former entertainer Akon creates own city in Senegal

Akon finalizes Akon City deal

BY KOSSI GBEDIGA

Over the years, Akon was known as a Grammy-nominated mega entertainer, then a philanthropist in love with his roots, Africa. Now he is the owner of a city in Senegal, Akoncity, only five minutes drive from the brand-new airport of Dakar, the nation’s capital.

Akon, 46, announced the finalization of the agreement for the construction of the futuristic city on a 2,000-acre land given to him by the president of Senegal, Macky Sall. The announcement on his Instagram page reads: “Just finalized the agreement for AKON CITY in Senegal. Looking forward to hosting you there in the future.” One can also see a picture of the deal-finalization moment on his page.

Today’s announcement comes two months after the entertainer-turned businessman revealed to the public his plan to build his own city in a ten-year time frame. According to CNN, the singer first discussed the plan back in June 2018 after meeting with President Sall. Per other media accounts, the futuristic city is part of a deal with Senegal’s tourism company to promote tourism via a tourist village. A striking feature of Akon City: it will trade only in its own digital cash currency called Akoin, says Akon.

In a memorable interview with CNN back in 2013, Akon had said: “I really want to make the biggest impact in Africa for sure. If I could have my way, Africa would be the United States of Africa.”

These are not just words, for Akon has backed the intention with his Akon Lighting Africa venture.

An entertainer wrapped in superlatives, Akon’s short career dates back only to June 2004 when he rose to prominence with the release of “Locked Up,” the first single from his debut album “Trouble,” He later received 17 nominations (including Grammy Award nominations) of which he has won 6: Best selling R&B Male artist (2007); Best Selling African Artist (2007); Best Selling Internet Artist (2007); Billboard Music Artist Award of the Year (2007) and Best Selling African Artist (2008). He made the Top Artists of the Year Chart in 2009 and the Billboard 200 Albums of the Year Chart in 2009, 2007, 2005 and 2004, not to mention the Billboard Hot 100 Songs of the Year Chart in 2005 and 2004. A record breaker, Akon was the first solo artist to hold both the number one and number two spots simultaneously on the Billboard charts twice.

Want to know about another one of his records? On October 5, 2006, he broke a record on the Hot 100 by achieving the largest climb in the chart’s 48-year history with his single “Smack That” by jumping from number 95 to number 7.

But the unique and perhaps most striking thing about this African American music genius known and loved for his silky, West African vocals, is his genuine love for, and attachment to the cradle of humanity, Africa, the continent where his parents came from.

He says his full name is Aliaune Damala Bouga Time Puru Nacka Lu Lu Lu Badara Akon Thiam, but let’s just say that the recording artist and song writer better known as Akon was born in St. Louis, Missouri, United States, on April 16, 1973 of an African father, Mor Thiam, a well-known percussionist and Jazz musician. While Akon spent most of his childhood in Dakar, Senegal, he often traveled to the United States until he settled permanently in Newark, New Jersey, when he was in high school.

Akon carried by an excited crowd during a concert in Cotonou, Benin in 2012.
(Image by Arsene Kassegne for The African)

Artists of African origin who live in the Diaspora quite often remember home, but Akon, who rose to fame in the United States and could have been happy with his huge success in the United States and other parts of the world, shows a unique bond with Africa. He not only performed frequently across Africa where he drew large, wild crowds, he has also devoted several of his hits to Africa.

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