On The Red Carpet At The African Diaspora Awards In NYC [Photos]

Okayafrica was on the red carpet to document some of the best looks at this year’s African Diaspora Awards in New York City.

All photos by Leon Williams (@leonwilliamsnyc).

On Saturday, our friends from Applause Africa held the fifth edition of the African Diaspora Awards in New York City. Hosted by Ghanaian TV presenter and actress Peace Hyde and Nigerian comedian Seyi Brown, this year’s awards opened with an all-acoustic Fela performance by Fela! On Broadway star Sahr Ngaujah.

In total, ten awards were handed out throughout the night.

Danai Gurira was honored as the African Diaspora “Person of the Year,” just one month after the Zimbabwean playwright and actress’ Liberian Civil War drama starring Lupita Nyong’o was confirmed to be headed to Broadway.

Malian designer-to-the-stars Alhassan Toure was named Designer of the Year.

An African City creator and executive producer Nicole Amarteifio received the “Creative Artist of the Year Award” for her work launching the successful Accra-set web series.

Akon and his partner, Senegalese entrepreneur and political strategist Thione Niang, were honored as Advocates of the Year for their work with the Akon Lighting Africa project. “Africa will not develop without its diaspora,” said Niang, who last month was appointed by President Obama and the Energy Secretary as Ambassador at the US Ministry of Energy representing minorities in energy. “Together we can unify our continent. And together we can create a better Africa,” he added during a memorable acceptance speech to close out the awards.

“There is much to celebrate in Africa’s social and economic progress over the past decade,” Applause Africa co-founder Debo Folorunsho says. “But if the continent is to build on educational foundations of his youth and stop the seeping away of skills, talent and human potential caused by the crisis in education and political leadership. Africa’s youth have a right to an education that offers them a better future – and they have a right to expect their leaders and the international community to get behind them.”

Okayafrica was on the red carpet to document some of the best looks at this year’s African Diaspora Awards. Browse through NYC-based photographer Leon Williams’ red carpet photos above.

The 2015 African Diaspora Awards Honorees

Person of the Year: Danai Jekesai Gurira, Actress Eclipsed, Zimbabwe

Advocacy: Akon & Thione Niang, The Akon Lighting Africa, Senegal

Life Time Achievement: David Adjaye, Architect, Tanzania

Entrepreneurship: Chid Liberty, Liberty & Justice, Apparel Manufacturer – Liberia

Community Service: Atti Worku, Founder Seeds of Africa – Ethiopia

Creative Artist: Nicole Amarteifio, Creator of An African City – Ghana

Humanitarian: Kennedy Odede, Social entrepreneur, Shining Hope for Communities – Kenya

Friend of Africa: Laurie A. Cumbo, Council Member, Office of New York City – USA

Designer: Alhassan Toure, Toure Design – Mali

Organizational Impact: Young African MBA’s – Pan African

Excellence in service: Dr Oluyemi Badero, Cardiologist – Nigeria

Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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