Celebrating the rhythms of Africa: The 7 best theme songs in Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) history

Top 7 theme songs in AFCON history | PulseSportsNG, CAF

Celebrating the rhythms of Africa: The 7 best theme songs in Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) history

Ayoola Kelechi 23:45 - 07.01.2024

The Africa Cup of Nations tournament has been home to some amazing tunes from the continent's biggest artists

The Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) has not only been a battleground for football supremacy but also a stage for cultural expression, unity, and celebration.

One of the elements that add to the tournament's unique charm is its iconic theme songs. Over the years, these musical anthems have become an integral part of the AFCON experience, capturing the spirit and passion of African football.

We take a nostalgic journey through history to explore the seven best theme songs that have left an indelible mark on the AFCON tournament.

7. ‘Together’ — Hakim, Femi Kuti, and Dobet Gnahore (Egypt 2019)

Starting off with “Together,” the theme song for the 2019 edition of AFCON held in Egypt, and won by Algeria.

The song features the iconic artist Hakim from the host country, as well as Nigerian music legend Femi Kuti, and Ivorian singer and instrumentalist Dobet Gnahore.

6. ‘Sela Sela’ — Zahra Universe and Wes Madiko (South Africa 2013)

Sela Sela aka “Dance Together” heralded the 2013 AFCON tournament held in South Africa and was a constant feature at stadiums during the duration of the competition.

The upbeat melody was the brainchild of Zahra Universe and Wes Madiko, who both featured in its colourful music video.

5. ‘Hola Hola’ — Various Artists (Equatorial Guinea 2015)

Another upbeat rhythm was, “Hola Hola," which was the theme song when Equatorial Guinea hosted Africa in 2015 featured several artists from all over the continent, including Wizboyy, Molare, Toofan, Eddy Kenzo, Singuila, Arielle T, and Mani Bella.

The anthem created for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in 2015 served as a vivid representation of the energetic and diverse atmosphere that characterised the tournament held in Equatorial Guinea. 

Through its musical composition, the anthem successfully encapsulates various elements, including the lively buzz of the event, the vibrant colours associated with the participating nations, the rhythmic beats echoing the spirit of the matches, the cultural diversity inherent in the competition, and the intense emotions experienced by both players and fans throughout the tournament.

4. Gabon 2017 — Abiba feat Sidiki Diabate (Gabon 2017)

Aptly named “Gabon 2017,” the official ‘hymn’ for the 2017 edition of AFCON held in Gabon is not as heralded as some of the other theme songs, but it is every bit as exceptional.

Sung by Senegalese songstress Abiba with the aid of Malian Malian kora player, musician and music producer, Sidiki Diabate, the theme song for 2017 captures the heart and soul of the Africa Cup of Nations in all its grandeur.

3. ‘We stand for Africa’ — Various Artists (Cameroon 2021)

The special song for AFCON 2021 in Cameroon featured a multitude of Africa’s best artists, including Salatiel, Timi Dakolo, Rinyu, Fame Sene, WJ De King, Emmerson Bokarie, Lord Ekomy, Peque Jazz, Lesmes Monteir, Texvor, Samini, Jaylann, Jah Prayzah, Imilo Lechanceux, Mylmo, Cremilda Medina, Hakim, Rayen Youssef, and Acho.

The incredible rendition showcased some of the best musical talents on the continent and was a fitting backdrop for an exciting tournament in Cameroon.

2. Akwaba — Magic System Feat Yemi Alade & Mohamed Ramadan (Ivory Coast 2023)

Magic System alongside Yemi Alade and Mohamed Ramadan delivered a masterpiece theme song for the 2023 edition of AFCON in Ivory Coast with Akwaba.

The song title, which means “welcome” in an Ivorian dialect, is the perfect introduction to fans and participants hoping to have an enthralling and enriching experience in the 2023 AFCON tournament.

1. On Top of the World — D’Banj (South Africa 2013)

D’Banj’s On Top of the World will certainly hold a special place in the hearts of most Nigerian football fans.

A theme song by a Nigerian, which brought colour to the South Africa 2013 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, the last edition won by the Super Eagles after a 19-year wait.

The lively, motivational tune was performed live by D’Banj at the closing ceremony of the 2013 AFCON in South Africa’s FNB stadium in Johannesburg, moments before the Super Eagles were crowned champions following a 1-0 win over Burkina Faso.

As we look back on the rich history of AFCON, these theme songs stand as a testament to the tournament's ability to unite diverse cultures through the universal language of music. Each anthem has left an indelible mark on the hearts of football enthusiasts, becoming an integral part of the AFCON legacy. 

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