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Avellon Williams 

His mother is dancer Kine Gueye Thiam, and his father is the traditional jazz musician Mor Thiam. Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam was born on April 16, 1973, in St. Louis, Missouri. Abou Thiam is his brother.

Akon /Image, BP/

Immediately following his birth, his parents moved to Dakar, Senegal, West Africa, where they remained for seven years. Their family relocated to Jersey City after they returned to the country. In the summer of his freshman year of high school, his parents left him with his older brother in Jersey City and moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where the rest of his family was living.

Akon /Image, VN/

Despite the rules of the classroom, Akon was a wild teen who flouted them frequently. His struggles with other kids led him to hang around with the local rowdies. Due to the musical influences of his family, he grew up with strong enthusiasm and love for music. He mastered five instruments at a young age, including the guitar, drums, and djembe.

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Although he hung out with criminals in New Jersey, his passion for music helped him turn his life around. His singing and performing began when he was a teenager. After enrolling at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia, he dropped out after one semester. After quitting university, he began focusing solely only on music.

His first recordings were made at home. As time went on, he developed a close relationship with Wyclef Jean of the Fugees. In 2003, Akon signed his first record deal.

Akon album ‘Trouble’ /Image, DN/

As soon as Akon’s debut album, “Trouble”, was released in June 2004, his life changed forever. Within a short time, he gained worldwide fame. From the album, several successful songs were produced, including “Locked Up,” “Bananza (Belly Dance),” “Ghetto,” and “Lonely.” As a result of his debut album, he founded his own labels, “Kon Live Distribution” and “Konvict Music.” His second album, entitled “Konvicted,” was released in November 2006. 

As a result of the numerous hit singles contained in “Konvicted,” Akon’s reputation skyrocketed.

Numerous records were broken by the album, which received an astounding number of platinum awards. Eminem and Snoop Dogg appeared on the album as cameos; “Smack That” features Eminem and “I Wanna Love You” features Snoop Dogg.

His third album was released in 2008 “Freedom”.

Akon and Michael Jackson /Image, DR/

Akon has worked with well-known musicians such as Michael Jackson, Gwen Stefani, Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie, and Lady Gaga.  The renowned house music legend David Guetta also collaborated with him on the song “Sexy Bitch”.

As a singer and actor, Akon has established himself as one of the most successful artists of his generation.  2015 saw the release of Akon’s fourth album, “Stadium.” 

Toward the end of 2017, he released a joint mixtape titled “Konvict Kartel Vol 2.”

Akon /Image, BI/

Over the years, Akon has become an extremely successful businessman. His several interests in real estate go along with his ownership of two well-known clothing brands, Aliaune and Konvict. Besides owning a diamond mine in South Africa, he also runs a charity called “Konfidence Foundation”. In the US and Africa, the organization’s main goal is to support underprivileged young people.

Throughout his career, Akon has kept his family out of prying eyes. He claims he has fathered six children by three different women. 

Life without Lights 

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As a child, Akon knew what it was like to live in the dark after the sun went down. Unlike many other towns in Senegal, the one where he grew up did not have running water or electricity. Businesses were forced to close when sunset and families were forced to use candlelight and kerosene lamps for nightly tasks, which resulted in over 3 million deaths every year.

Akon, and his business partners /Image, MN/

Having become a household name, Akon was determined to give back to his homeland and provide them with sustainable energy.

He launched Akon Lighting Africa (ALA) in 2014 with Thione Niang and Samba Bathily as his first step toward establishing sustainable infrastructure in Africa.

Lighting Africa

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To power the continent, the team originally planned to use gasoline and fossil fuels but opted for solar energy when they realized its cost-effectiveness could provide power to a larger population. After that, Akon was able to negotiate credit lines worth billions of dollars with Chinese manufacturers of solar energy products.

In its first year, Akon Lighting Africa installed solar panels and street lamps in 14 African countries, among them include, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Benin, Guinea Equatorial, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Namibia, Madagascar, Kenya, and Nigeria.

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For the sake of providing for their families, local vendors were able to stay open six to eight hours after sunset. Without the harmful fumes of kerosene lamps, children can study and do their homework more successfully. During the night, villages are lit up, reducing crime rates by 90% and creating a safe environment for residents.

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In addition to supplying electricity to African countries, Akon Lighting Africa also strives to build economies through education and career opportunities. Through ALA’s SolektraSolar Academy, young Africans are taught about solar power, and how to properly install and maintain solar equipment. As soon as the individuals graduate, they are hired by the company.

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The efforts of Akon and his partners with Akon Lighting Africa deserve a resounding round of applause. Their efforts came to the aid of Africa and its people, who have been neglected for far too long by the international community. 

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Akon conquered the task seen by many as impossible and not worth tackling, thanks to the affordability and efficiency of solar power that provided life-changing electricity to millions.

Nevertheless, Akon Lighting Africa faced challenges from time to time.

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Avellon Williams

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