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It generates huge amounts of money and provides significant opportunities to work.Everyone in Africa - whether a politician, musician or businessman or woman - needs to appreciate the role that culture can play in our development.But I do, of course, have my own favourite artists - musicians, painters, fashion designers.Some never had the chance to become famous outside Africa, but their work has made a lasting difference to the people who live there.In his work, he aims for a creative, aesthetic "empowering" theatre practice drawing on masquerade and dance, the existing forms of performance of both peasant society and urban workers.Through this technique, people address the inequalities in their lives and create exquisite dramas in open-air settings all over Africa.He took the music from the smallest villages, brought together women who created the songs and dancing to go with it, and then brought it all to the stage.
In 2004, he declined to accept Nigeria's second-highest honour in protest at the state of affairs in his country.
When you talk about culture in West Africa, it is impossible to separate dance from music, instruments from costumes.
Everything is linked to the communities themselves.
And I am confident that the more people see of Africa's art and culture, the more they will find the inspiration and joy in it that I have found ever since I first watched those fishermen on the banks of the Senegal river as a child.
THE PANEL: Our 50 best was chosen by Baaba Maal (who would otherwise head any such list himself); the artist Owusu Ankomah; Ian Birrell, deputy editor of The Independent and expert on African music; Margaret Busby, writer and broadcaster; Augustus Casely-Hayford, director of the Institute of International Visual Arts and programme director for Africa 05; Thelma Holt, theatre producer; Frances Harding, lecturer in African drama at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London; Gregory Maqoma, artistic director of the Vuyani Dance Theater, Johannesburg; Keith Shiri, director of Africa at the Pictures THE 50 BEST AFRICAN ARTISTS OGA STEVE ABAH, PLAYWRIGHT (Nigeria) Oga Steve Abah is a tireless, prolific theatre activist whose work focuses on creating dramas based on the everyday lives of ordinary people: poor, powerless, without a channel for learning to cope with the pressures of contemporary life.