The 10 Top Cultural Moments of 2022

The 10 Top Cultural Moments of 2022

In a year filled with much strife across the world, these were the events that kept our spirits high — and we look forward to more of them in 2023.

From fashion to sport, film to literature, 2022 was filled with African stars leaving their mark on the world. While there are so many issues and challenges facing the continent, there is still so much to cheer for -- from Morocco's thrilling ride at the FIFA World Cup to the first ever Chanel show in Africa.

Here are our top 10 most favorite moments:

1. Thebe Magugu kitting out players at the US Open

Over the past couple of years, Thebe Magugu has more than been fulfilling the potential that earned him the LVMH Prize in 2019 -- the first African designer to scoop that win. This year alone he shone brighter than he ever has, from his collaboration with Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccoli to his work with Oscar-winner and fellow South African Charlize Theron, through the Thebe Magugu x DIOR capsule collection to benefit the health, education, and safety of young people living in Southern Africa. Finding Beauty, Magugu’s debut performance collection, saw prominent players, from Dana Mathewson to Dominic Thiem, Jessica Pegula, and Stefanos Tsitsipas, compete at the U.S. Open wearing the young designer's bold colors and vibrant patterns on court.

2. Blitz Bazawule releasing his debut novel in between directing The Color Purple

When Blitz Bazawule was in the pandemic lockdown, he used the opportunity to begin working on his first novel. The outcome -- a dazzling debut that captured readers across the globe. In The Scent of Burnt Flowers, Atlanta-based Bazawule takes readers to Ghana from the U.S. in the 1960s, as a desperate couple seeks the help of Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, after a murder in self-defense. When he's not writing, he's painting and directing, and 2023 looks set to be even bigger for the Ghanaian-born multi-disciplinary artist when his version of The Color Purple hits the big screen later in the year.

3. Burna Boy selling out Madison Square Garden

We could have also said winning Best African Act at the 2022 MTV Europe Music Awards, topping the African streams of both Apple Music and Spotify, and receiving Nigeria's Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) award. Oh, and becoming the face of Burberry's Christmas campaign, and earning another Grammy nom, What didn't Burna Boy do this year? Basically, 2022 was the year of Burna Boy's stand out achievements. From the release of the history-making, chart-topping, globally-admired Love, Damini, he stayed winning, and celebrated it all with his sold-out show at Madison Square Garden.

4. Morocco's history-making turn at the World Cup

The Atlas Lions made Africans and Arabs alike super proud with their performance at this year's FIFA World Cup. In the past, Morocco qualified for the final stages of the World Cup 6 times, but this year surpassed that, when they finished in fourth place, becoming both the first African and Arab nation to reach a semi-final at a World Cup.

Earlier this year, on a different football field, history was made at Afcon, too. Rwandan Salima Mukansanga became the first woman to officiate a match in the Africa Cup of Nations' 65-year history.

5. Black Panther returns to host a Lagos premiere

Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever had a lot hanging over it, with the passing of its lead star Chadwick Boseman, and expectations were high for the followup to the smash-hit that was Black Panther. But director Ryan Coogler, aided by a formidable cast of women powerhouses, more than paid tribute to the late actor’s legacy — they paved the way for a future where women and people of color lead the way. To mark the film’s arrival, the cast attended a special premiere in Nigeria.

6. Chanel staging its Metiers d'art in Dakar

All eyes in the fashion world were on Dakar this December, as Chanel hosted its first ever runway event in the Senegalese capital -- which also happened to mark the first time a luxury house of its stature ever staged a fashion show on African soil. The eye-catching looks were there, both on the runway and off, and we can't wait to see which major fashion label decides to make some magic on the continent next!

7. Nanny wins the Sundance Film Festival's main prize

Nikyatu Jusu started the year on a stellar note, picking up the top prize at Sundance for her horror film, Nanny. The Sierra Leonean American filmmaker's feature, which weaves myth and reality into the story of an undocumented Senegalese woman who becomes a nanny to a wealthy couple on New York’s Upper East Side, continued to win applause throughout the year. After a theatrical run, it's now available to watch on Prime Video.

8. Kugali Disney series announcement

In 2023, animation fans will finally get to see Disney's first ever collaboration with an outside studio -- one that happens to be African, and proudly so. At the D23 Expo earlier this year in California, Disney unveiled a first look at Iwájú. It comes from the African entertainment company Kugali, and is set in futuristic Lagos. Count us among those excited to see the first African animated series backed by one of the world’s leading media powerhouses make its entry into the world!

9. Thuso Mbedu shining in 'The Woman King'

Viola Davis' name was the drawcard for The Woman King -- and rightly so -- but Thuso Mbedu was the film's secret weapon. After a stand-out introduction to global audiences in The Underground Railroad last year, 2022 was the year the South African actress showed her mettle as an action star to behold. The film is heading into award season with more than enough pundits championing it, signaling that Mbedu's ascent is set to rise even higher in the months to come.

10. Trevor Noah bowing out of The Daily Show

After 7 years in the host seat, the South African comedian and author bid farewell to audiences on the 8th of December. The 38-year-old had a memorable run, having taken on the massive task of becoming the show's main man after the departure of Jon Stewart in 2015. Over the course of the 7 years, Noah interviewed the likes of Barack Obama, Burna Boy, Davido and a host of other notable public figures, using his platform to also elevate African artistry and elevate the African experience. This next year will see Noah head to arenas around the world to perform his comedy shows, something he says he wants to do more of in the years to come.