10 Essential South African Love Songs to Set the Mood This Valentine's Day

Here are 10 songs from Mthunzi, Kwesta, Ami Faku, Berita and several others that you need to add to your playlist this Valentine's Day.

It's Valentine's Day. No matter how and where you plan on celebrating the occasion, we've compiled a playlist of 10 essential South African love songs to help you make sure the mood is set just right.

From Mthunzi's serenading Zulu lyrics to Kwesta's real-life wedding tribute and AyandaJiya's glorious anthem, there's a song here for everyone. Whether you're looking for a nostalgic jam to remember love lost or a powerful number to help you navigate a budding romance, we've got you covered.

And, if by the end of this playlist you're still searching for just a few more gems to add that (hopefully) growing playlist, you can also check out our African Love Songs playlist on Apple Music.

Mthunzi feat. Claudio & Kenza "Ngibambe La"

A standout track from his debut album Selimathunzi, Mthunzireminds his love interest that while all the guys are excitedly chasing after her, the two of them both know that she's only got eyes for him.

Berita "Ndiceli'ikiss"

In this feel-good and upbeat jam, Berita unabashedly asks her lover to pull in just a little closer for that special kiss. You never know until you ask right?

Mafikizolo "Ngeke Balunge"

"Ngeke Balunge" sees popular Afropop duo Mafikizolo returning to their original sound and describing a love that will always lead them back to one another—just as with Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

Manu WorldStar "Future Plan"

In this laid-back and easy number, rising Afro-soul artist Manu Worldstar lays out all his imagined future plans on the table in the hopes of his love interest giving him a shot.

Ayanda Jiya "The Sun"

This glorious anthem by Ayanda Jiya may not be intended to be a love song, but it speaks about holding on just a little longer until the sun rises. We don't know about you, but love can have you feeling that way sometimes.

Samthing Soweto "Umuhle Uyasabeka"

In this uptempo track, Samthing Soweto praises his lover's ethereal beauty in a way that is sure to have her swooning.

Ami Faku "Ungowami"

Ami Faku slows the pace down in "Ungowami" as she lets her lover know that he belongs to her and no-one else.

Mlindo The Vocalist "Emakhaya"

In this beautiful number, Mlindo The Vocalist sings about looking forward to finding his lover upon making the long journey back home.

Amanda Black "Ndizele Wena"

No matter the ups and downs, the arguments and the disagreements, Amanda Black tells her love interest that she's not leaving—she's staying right there with him through thick and thin.

Kwesta feat. Makwa, Tshego AMG & Thee Legacy "Khethile Khethile"

Kwesta shows us a different side to his artistry in this vulnerable tribute to his wife on their wedding day. This track will definitely pull at your heartstrings.

Photo courtesy of the filmmakers.

The Best Nigerian Movies of All Time

It’s not an easy list to compile but one that guarantees hours of satisfying viewing. Here are our top Nigerian movies and where to stream them.

Making a list of the best Nigerian movies of all time is as challenge and complex as it is daunting. But that didn’t stop us from doing so. Because of the sheer volume of titles, it would be impossible to see every single film required to register a list like this one. Add to this, genuine questions around the subjective nature of art plus the debates about what should qualify as a Nigerian film. And then, does a cinema release matter? Or is the home video circuit just as relevant?

To make this list, OkayAfrica started from the post-Living in Bondage era that began in 1992. This is the period that can also officially be categorized as the Nollywood era. That leaves out hard-to-access gems from maestros like Ade Love Afolayan, Ola Balogun, and Eddie Ugbomah. We zeroed in on films that have proven to be not only commercially or critically successful but also have achieved artistic and cultural significance.

These are OkayAfrica’s picks for the best Nigerian films of all time.76 (2016)

'76' (2016)

Director Izu Ojukwu’s magnum opus, 76 is a superbly detailed period piece that boasts stellar turns from leads Rita Dominic, Ramsey Nouah and Chidi Mokeme. Adopting historical events as the epic background for a young marriage’s ultimate test, 76 is a triumph of scale, ambition and imagination. Set six years after the civil war, the film is a fictional account of the fallout of the coup d’etat that resulted in the killing of former head of state, Murtala Muhammed. Embracing cultural and historical significance, 76 is proof that movies need not be perfect to work.

Where to stream: Netflix

'B for Boy' (2013)

Chika Anadu’s sole directorial feature is an instant stunner, an empathetic slice-of-life drama that takes on feminism and the plight of the Nigerian woman. In this fictional world, wealth and social strata are hardly enough to insulate anyone from the selfish clutches of the patriarchy. Starring Uche Nwadili and Ngozi Nwaneto, B for Boy follows a well-to-do woman's mounting desperation when her inability to produce a male heir threatens her marriage. A festival darling upon release, B for Boy won the Audience Award (Breakthrough) at the American Film Institute’s film festival but remains hard to track online.

Not presently streaming.

'Confusion Na Wa' (2013)

In many ways, Kenneth Gyang’s refreshing feature length debut birthed the wave of arthouse independent films that has expanded to include titles by C.J. Obasi, Abba Makama and Dami Orimogunje. Rough around the edges but endlessly fascinating, what with its unique plotting and fine writing, Confusion Na Wa boldly reimagines the Nollywood canon, borrowing heavily from Hollywood, of course. Taking its title from an old Fela Kuti tune, the film juggles multiple narrative strands highlighting the seeming interconnectedness – or lack thereof – amongst a posse of strangers in a small city.

Not presently streaming.

'Eyimofe' (2020)

Perhaps the most critically successful Nigerian film in recent times, Eyimofe, directed by twin brothers Arie and Chuko Esiri, premiered at the Berlinale in 2020 and has since been added to the Criterion Collection. Telling two separate stories about tangentially linked individuals who live in Lagos but dream of life across the ocean, Eyimofe is a poignant observation on what it means to be Nigerian today. The film’s two leads – a middle aged electrician (Jude Akuwudike) and a much younger bartender (Temi Ami-Williams) – want to migrate to Spain and Italy respectively. Life – and Lagos – has other plans for them.

Where to stream: Prime Video, HBO Max

'The Ghost and the House of Truth' (2019)

As a producer, Ego Boyo has been a quiet reformer, pushing boundaries and setting industry standards with each project. From her days working with the late Amaka Igwe (Violated, To Live Again) to her work redefining the Nollywood romcom (Keeping Faith), Boyo has always been ahead of the curve. Which is why her latest film, The Ghost and the House of Truth with Akin Omotoso as director feels like an encapsulation of her entire career. The slow burn drama tackles the scourge of missing children, choosing emotional heft instead of gratuitous traumatic scenes. A profile on empathy, this stark drama manages to both uplift and devastate.

Where to stream: Prime Video, BET Plus, Showmax

'Lionheart' (2018)

The only reason this list isn’t filled with straight-to-video titles from Nollywood’s super-prolific era is because Lionheart works as both homage and guiding principle for what can be achieved if technical improvements are merged with the storytelling gusto of years past. It makes sense then that Lionheart – Nigeria’s first Netflix original – would be produced and directed by Nollywood sweetheart Nnaji, who cut her teeth cranking out titles from this bygone “golden era” of video and DVD distribution. In Lionheart, Nnaji plays a transport company heiress and executive teaming up with her rascally uncle to save their family business.

Where to stream: Netflix

'Mami Wata' (2023)

Might it be too early, or not fair, to place Mami Wata on a list such as this – considering that the film only just debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January and has not been seen yet by a wider audience? Perhaps. But sometimes it is easy enough to recognize an instant classic from the get-go. C.J. Obasi’s take on the myth of the popular marine spirit is a stunning black-and-white experience that plays as a culmination of everything he has done so far in his career. Yes, some scenes are repetitive and maybe the film could use some tighter edits but Obasi and his cast and crew are clearly inspired, and the result is an eloquent statement that Nigeria can indeed be the home of grand cinematic experiments.

Not yet available for streaming.

'The Milkmaid' (2020)

Desmond Ovbiagele’s insurgency drama remains the only Nigerian film to be accepted as a submission for the international film category at the Oscars. Ambitious and epic in scope but with plenty of feeling, The Milkmaid tells a universal story of human resilience amidst devastation. Inspired by the imagery of two nameless Fulani milkmaids at the back of the Nigerian Ten Naira note, Ovbiagele fleshes out a complex narrative for his characters that complicates their journey and muddies the audience’s loyalties. The film features fiery star-making turns by the trio of Anthonieta Kalunta, Maryam Booth and Gambo Usman Kona.

Where to stream: Prime Video

'October 1' (2014)

Once upon a time, before Kunle Afolayan became content with churning out B-list fare for Netflix and Africa Magic, he was for a spell, the most exciting filmmaker working in Nollywood. As an auteur, Afolayan has never bettered October 1, an impressive, if indulgent, psychological thriller set during the last days of colonial-era Nigeria. The late Sadiq Daba plays Danladi Waziri, a police officer posted to a remote town to investigate a spate of female murders. October 1 has a lot to say about postcolonial trauma, ultimately positing that, in many ways, the Nigerian project was doomed from the start.

Where to stream: Netflix

Saworoide (1999)

The veteran Tunde Kelani could easily post several films on this list but Saworoide, considered the crowning achievement of his esteemed career wins out on account of its eternal appeal. Saworoide might as well be the story of Nigeria today, yesterday or even tomorrow. Written by the late Akinwunmi Ishola, the epic is set against the backdrop of a Yoruba community dealing with a new monarch (Kola Oyewo) whose only goal is to enrich himself while in office. The town is thus forced to check his excesses, setting the stage for some turbulent times.

Where to stream: YouTube


This Is What Davido's ‘Timeless’ Concert In Lagos Looked Like

The Nigerian superstar's 'Timeless Event' provided countless moments of joy. Here is our report from the ground.

From the beginning of his career, the spectacle of fascinating public performances has been a recurring motif of the Davido experience. Whether softly emoting through his romantic cuts at wedding ceremonies, leading vociferous renditions of his songs at his own shows, or running through breathless live interpretations of his evergreen hits at arena-sized venues, Davido has elevated the art of live performance across his 11-year stint at the top of afrobeats.

More than any other city in the world, Lagos has often been ground zero for the singer’s level-ups and innovations in terms of performance. Almost every year since his breakout has featured a highly-anticipated performance — usually in December — to deepen his connection with a home audience that has played a critical role in propelling him to global attention. Last year was a break from that norm due to the heartbreaking passing of his three-year-old son which necessitated a needed reprieve from his role as afropop’s premier starter, if only for a while.

The arrival of Davido’s fourth album, Timeless, at the end of March always meant that things were going to get kicked up a notch as Davido returned to public life. With a favourable public reaction to the album, the prospect of those lively Davido performances making a return was basically a foregone conclusion. Last Sunday, the Davido Timeless Event rolled into Lagos at the Tafawa Balewa Square with thousands of people coming to celebrate an artist who has provided countless moments of joy for them. Here are six highlights from Davido's Lagos Timeless concert.

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Photo credit: Harry Langer/DeFodi Images.

The Triumph of Sadio Mané

From humble beginnings in an obscure Senegalese village, the football star defied all odds to reach competitive glory.

When Sadio Mané’s game-winning penalty nestled in the back of the net at the Olembe Stadium in Yaoundé, Cameroon on February 6, 2022, it sparked euphoric celebrations as Senegal was confirmed the champions of African football at the 2021 AFCON. For Mané, it represented a triumph on both a national and personal level.

Winning the competition in 2022 banished the ghost of 2019 — when Senegal lost in an agonizing AFCON final to Algeria. Concurrently, that victory and the circumstance surrounding it meant that Mané had belatedly led his country to their first African Cup of Nations win, earning the admiration of a nation.

Motivation for greatness

From playing football on the streets of Dakar, Mané has risen to be feted as one of the best players of his generation. The journey to being Senegal’s talisman was not without its attendant risks and struggles. Still, it all began in the little-known village of Bambali where he was born in 1992. Born to the family of a local Muslim cleric, Mané had a happy childhood playing football on the dirt fields in his home village while dreaming of a professional career in the sport. His father, however, tried to stop him, forbidding him from playing football as a child.

Unfortunately, Mané’s dad died when he was seven due to the lack of proper healthcare facilities in Bambali, forcing the family to turn to traditional medicine. That incident left a mark on young Mané, strengthening his resolve to make it as a professional footballer and provide his village with humanitarian assistance when he could. At age 15, Mané ran away from home, making the nearly-500 mile journey to Dakar, Senegal’s capital city, to pursue his dreams.

A leg up with Génération Foot

In Dakar, the young star attended a series of trials before signing with the local academy Génération Foot, after scouts spotted him playing in M’Bour. Mané quickly started to make waves at Génération Foot, helping the club win promotion to the Senegalese Ligue 2 in the 2010/2011 season. A move to Europe soon beckoned, with Metz securing the signing of Mané thanks to a partnership with Génération Foot. Playing in the French Ligue 2, Mané distinguished himself with his ball-carrying, poise, and game-changing abilities even if his decision-making was still raw.

At the end of the season, Metz was relegated to the French third tier. Several offers arrived for Mané who went to the 2012 London Olympics with the Senegalese team and attracted more attention for his services. In the end, he joined Austrian giants, Red Bull Salzburg in a €4 million deal. Playing a more prominent role in Austria with more responsibility, Mané started to show signs of the explosiveness and dribbling that would make him a world-class star. In two seasons with Red Bull Salzburg, he scored 45 goals and recorded 32 assists in 87 appearances, paving the way for a move to the English Premier League where he joined Southampton Football Club.

Premier League rookie

Not fazed by the switch from Austria to England, Mané continued to perform at a high level, winning a penalty in a 2-1 win against Arsenal on his debut for Southampton. He would later score against Chelsea and Arsenal during the league campaign. On May 16, 2015, during Southampton’s final home league game of the season against Aston Villa, Mané wrote his name into the history books by scoring the fastest English Premier League hattrick in 2 minutes and 56 seconds beating Robbe Fowler’s record of 4 minutes and 33 seconds held for 21 years.

Overall, his debut campaign in England was a success with 10 goals from 32 appearances. A similar performance in his second season at St. Mary’s Stadium saw Mané finish as the highest goal scorer for Southampton, with 15 goals from 43 appearances.

The price goes up

The consistency of Mané’s performances and his flamboyance soon meant that bigger teams soon came knocking at the door. In the summer of 2016, he swapped the south coast of England for a move to Merseyside where he joined Jürgen Klopp’s revolution at Liverpool. The £34 million that Liverpool paid for him made him the most expensive African player in history at that time and he hit the ground running instantly, scoring the fourth goal in a 4-3 win against Arsenal on his debut.

In six seasons at the Merseyside, Mané contributed countless standout moments to Liverpool. He became a cult hero to the Kop, thanks to his professionalism, passion, and quality that saw him score 120 goals in 269 appearances. Operating primarily on the left of Jürgen Klopp’s attacking trident, he formed a devastating partnership with Roberto Firmino and fellow African, Mohamed Salah. Together, they led Liverpool to its sixth Champions League title in 2018 after losing in the final to Real Madrid in 2017.

The 2019/2020 season would prove to be Mané’s most famous at Liverpool as the team blitzed its way to the league title after a 30-year wait. In January 2020, Mané made some personal history by becoming the first Senegalese player since El Hadji Diouf to win the CAF African Footballer of the Year award despite his national team finishing as runner-up in the 2019 African Cup of Nations.

AFCON 2019 and glory on the pitch

Noticeably eager to make up for the near-miss of the 2019 African Cup of Nations, redemption would come for Mané when his game-winning penalty ensured that Senegal won the competition for the first time. Less than two months after beating Egypt in that final, he would again score the decisive penalty to send Senegal to the 2022 World Cup at the expense of the same opponent, after a 1-1 aggregate draw over the two-legged tie. A hattrick goal scored against Benin Republic in June 2022 made Mané the highest goal scorer in Senegalese football history, surpassing Henri Camara. He also received the CAF African Male Player of The Year award again in 2022 following his exploits at the continental championships.

Following all these exploits with his national team, Mané ended his club football in the 2021/2022 season on a high, winning the League Cup and FA Cup with Liverpool and finishing just one point behind Manchester City in the league. Soon after the season ended, Mané expressed an interest in pursuing a new adventure. He was soon off to join German giants, Bayern Munich, on a three-year deal, bringing an end to a six-year spell with Liverpool that was as fruitful as it was career-defining.

Similarly, he scored a goal on his Bayern Munich debut, helping the club to a 5-3 defeat of RV Leipzig in the 2022 DFL Supercup. Unfortunately, an injury sustained in a league game ruled him out of the 2022 World Cup despite his starring role in securing his country’s place in Qatar. All effort was made to get him ready for the Mundial but on November 17, 2022, he withdrew from the squad to focus on his rehabilitation.

Football philanthropist

For all the success that Mané has recorded in his career, he has never forgotten his background, regularly paying visits to Bambali to visit his family and kin. He donated 690,000 dollars towards the construction of a hospital in the village, fulfilling the promise he made to himself as a seven-year-old following the passing of his father. In addition, Mané gave £250,000 towards the building of a school in his village, noting that education was critical to helping the next generation of football talents that could come out of Bambali. In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was stretching the resources of the health ministry in Senegal, he donated over 50,000 dollars to the national committee on the COVID-19 pandemic to help their efforts.

Characteristically shy and unwilling to draw attention to himself, Sadio Mané rose from a little boy in a village in West Africa to becoming one of the world’s best players, without losing sight of the most important things to him. As a folk hero in Senegal and an inspiration to Africans all over the world, Mané’s legacy is largely sealed and, whatever happens from now till the end of his career, he’ll always be remembered as one of the true greats of the modern era.

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