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Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

In Photos: A Sultry Evening Celebrating OkayAfrica's 100 Women at NYC's Top of the Standard

Here's what went down at our evening of community and celebration in this photo story.

OkayAfrica recently took over New York City's Top of the Standard to praise this year's 100 Women honorees for a sultry evening of community and celebration.

Over 350 VIPs and past honorees including Flaviana Matata, Maria Borges, Abrima Erwiah, Jojo Abot and Susy Oludele gathered for delicious bites and custom Courvoisier cocktails—like the Courvoisier French 75 (Courvoisier VS, lemon juice, simple syrup, Brut champagne, and garnished with a lemon twist).


The crowd also got down to sets by female African DJs—including DJ AQ, Niara Sterling and Sydney Love. South Africa's own and our fabulous 2019 honoree Moonchild Sanelly blessed the room with a high-energy performance, having guests on their feet well past midnight. Some of the esteemed women honored this year that joined us for the evening include Isha Sesay, Penda N'diaye, Soull and Dynasty Ogun, Besidone Amoruwa and more.

As you've seen in this year's campaign, our amazing honorees are being recognized for their impact and influence as change agents and innovators in their respective industries.

"Every March, OkayAfrica is dedicated to celebrating 100 women across the continent and diaspora for the work that they've done," Rachel Hislop, editor-in-chief of OkayAfrica, says, addressing the audience at the soiree. "This year, our celebration encapsulates around youth culture—where we celebrate 100 women who use their power to push those who are the future of Africa and the world. Thank you to our honorees for allowing us to celebrating you."

Revisit the illustrious evening through the images below, thanks to photographers Noemie Marguerite and Hannan Saleh.

Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

DJ Niara Sterling. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

2019 OkayAfrica 100 Women honoree Charlene Akuamoah. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

Justine Skye in Studio 189. Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

2019 OkayAfrica 100 Women honoree Penda N'diaye. Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

2017 OkayAfrica 100 Women honoree Maria Borges. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

Young Paris, Maria Borges and friends. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

2019 OkayAfrica 100 Women honorees Dynasty (left) and Soull (right) Ogun. Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

Livelle Collins. Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

El Lewis. Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

Ade Adeniran. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

Rachel Hislop, OkayAfrica's editor-in-chief. Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

2019 OkayAfrica 100 Women honoree and guest artist Moonchild Sanelly. Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

Moonchild Sanelly. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

Abiola Oke, CEO and publisher of OkayAfrica with 2019 OkayAfrica 100 Women honoree Isha Sesay. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

Jojo Abot, Poizon Ivy the DJ and Moonchild Sanelly. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

2017 OkayAfrica 100 Women honoree Flaviana Matata. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

Abiola Oke and TK Wonder. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

Sira Kante. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

Peju Famojure. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

2018 OkayAfrica 100 Women honoree Susy Oludele. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

OkayAfrica, Okayplayer and 100 Women staff (L-R): Oyinkan Olojede, Ivie Ani, Nadia Nascimento, Antoinette Isama, Bisi, Jasmine Michel, Sinat Giwa. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

News Brief
Moonchild Sanelly. Image courtesy of the artist.

Catch Moonchild Sanelly & Alsarah Live at BAM This Weekend

As part of our 100 Women concerts.

South Africa's buzzing Moonchild Sanelly and East African retro pop group Alsarah & The Nubatones will be bringing their electrifying live shows to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) this weekend in conjunction with OkayAfrica's 100 Women.

Moonchild Sanelly has been breaking charts and dance floors in South Africa and across the globe with her infectious solo singles like "Isthembu" and "Weh Mameh," as well as collaborations like "Makhe," "iWalk Ye Phara," and "Midnight Starring." She will be playing at BAM on Friday, March 22.

Alsarah & The Nubatones will be presenting a special performance: a salute to the Sudan Uprisings, showcasing live footage from the protests, curated and performed by Marine Elneel and various other members of the Sudani diaspora coming together in solidarity with what is happening on the ground in Sudan right now. They will be performing at BAM on Saturday, March 23.

The artists will be playing BAMcafé Live this weekend, on Friday and Saturday night, as part of our 100 Women concerts.

See all detail below and sign up for updates on the events here.

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Interview
Image courtesy of Cleopatra Kambugu Kentaro.

Beyond the Struggle: Trans Activist Cleopatra Kambugu Kentaro on the Everyday Joys of Embracing Her Identity

Hailing from a country that criminalized queerness comes with its own challenges. But Cleopatra Kambugu Kentaro is choosing to find the joy in her life as a trans women instead of dealing in the loneliness and trauma that can come with being a leading voice in the movement to change the status quo.

Protest comes in many forms. For some, it's marching in the streets with picket signs and bullhorns. For others, it's boycotting or petitioning. For Ugandan trans activist Cleopatra Kambugu Kentaro, it's simply existing, fully and openly as herself.

Remaining hyper-visible on a continent where non-binary identity is shunned and sexual relations between people of the same sex remains illegal in a whopping 37 out of 54 countries according to Amnesty International, is in itself a radical act. Still, Kentaro has chosen to take her activism even further through her work as a storyteller, which she acknowledges as a tool for queer Africans to become the authors of their own histories.

In 2016 Kentaro starred in the groundbreaking documentary The Pearl of Africa, making her one of the first openly trans Ugandan women. At the time, however, the activist didn't fully realize how much of an impact the film would have. Instead, she says it was completely "organic" and humbly refers to it as a simple look into her everyday life. "I didn't even anticipate it having an impact in the community, and among my friends and family," she tells OkayAfrica "But [because of it] people have started having this conversation around transness."

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popular
'54 Silhouettes' at the British Council of Nigeria's Lagos Theatre Festival. Photo: Drive Adebayo.

'54 Silhouettes' Is the One-Man Play Exploring What Happens When Other People Tell Our Stories

The play is the first from Nigeria to show at the international United Solo Theatre Festival in NYC.

Playwright, screenwriter, and theatre director Africa Ukoh's award-winning play 54 Silhouettes has made its way to New York City as part of the United Solo Festival, the annual international festival, highlighting solo theatre performances through a "variety of one-person shows."

The one-man play stars the award-winning Nigerian actor Charles Etubiebi as a struggling actor who thinks he's landed his big break when he gets a major role in an upcoming blockbuster, he becomes conflicted, however, when he learns the film is yet another stereotypical "war in Africa" production—the type of film he vowed to never do. "Caught between career ambitions and ideals of his African identity, he must decide whether to do the film or ditch it," reads an official description of the show.

"The play explores African representation in global media and asks questions about creative responsibility, with tensions of cross cultural relations at the center of it all," Ukoh tells OkayAfrica. "It explores the inherent complexities in culturally unique stories being told by people of different cultures and how this intersects with power dynamics, commerce, and artistic ideals."

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Interview
Sarz. Photo: Manny Jefferson. Courtesy of the artist.

Interview: Sarz Has Powered a Generation of Nigerian Music—and He Isn't Stopping Anytime Soon

We talk to the star producer about his role in the rising global popularity of Nigerian music, spanning his production on massive singles from the likes of Wizkid, Skepta, Drake and more.

"I think more than the music, the narrative is more important these days," says Sarz as he sits at the offices of his press agency. "So one great song with an amazing narrative can get you farther than five great songs sometimes."

When Sarz talks about music, his eyes light up. They dart with excitement as he runs through topics like sounds, production, trends, and innovation. These are all words that represent his life's work of impactful music production, which has powered a generation of music in Nigeria, and is currently playing a role in its international future. Sitting at the offices, decked in a white t-shirt, red trousers and Nike kicks, he makes a point that he rarely grants interviews. And when he does, it's in spaces like this, in rooms and studios where his business is conducted, and his work is birthed and refined for public impact.

Born Osabuohien Osaretin, the 30-year-old music producer discovered sounds by accident when his ears would automatically pick apart music and focus on the beat. Interestingly, he discovered that he could remember every beat in detail. It was the entry point to a career that took off in 2010 when he scored his first hit on Jahbless' "Joor Oh" remix—during the formative stages of the current Nigerian pop success—and has provided sounds that have shaped the culture and given it its biggest moments.

With afrobeats' global ambitions taking off, Sarz's production is playing crucial roles in celebrated cross-cultural projects. He's helmed Drake's "One Dance," unlocked the chemistry between Wizkid and Skepta on "Energy (Stay Far Away)," and added composition on Beyoncé's Lion King: The Gift album.

"I'm inspired by the thoughts of how far I can take music. Just thinking about where this music can take me to," Sarz says, taking swigs from a water bottle. The producer has also worked with the biggest stars in afrobeats, and a look through his catalogue has hits every year since 2007.

He talks passionately about his work, the source of inspiration, where good music originates from, and how he identifies where to direct his energies. He runs an academy that has been a vehicle for delivering new producers to the culture. Sarz converses with range, a brimming energy, and a humility that is tied to purpose and achievements. He never shies away from topics that examine his revered place in this ecosystem, admitting without bragging that he is no one's mate. Even his 2019 SINYM EP is affirmation that "Sarz Is Not Your Mate." He has seen a lot and has a lot to say.

Sarz. Photo: Manny Jefferson. Courtesy of the artist.

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