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Introducing OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2019 List

Our annual celebration of incredible African women

Calling on the spirit of their ancestors before them, generations of young people have historically been able to overcome insurmountable challenges to push the culture forward. What's more, young women are not only the backbone of each movement for change and progress, they are the executors and the soul.

Nigerian women's right activist Funmilayo Ransome Kuti was only in her 20s when she organized literacy classes for women, a pathway that eventually led to her playing an integral role in women's right to vote. South Africa's Prudence Mabele was just 22 years old when, in 1992, she decided to publicly disclose her HIV status—the first Black woman in South Africa to do so—to create and promote policy that would support women living with the virus. A number of African youth around the continent, some even younger, have literally put their bodies and freedoms on the line to create more inclusive spaces. More lucrative opportunities. More accessible education.


SEE THE ENTIRE 100 WOMEN 2O19 LIST HERE

It is why this year, we have dedicated the OkayAfrica 100 Women list to those daughters who embody the fortitude of their continental mothers, paired with a sovereignty that is wholly unique to today's youth culture. Freedom of minds, agency over our bodies, and equity for all is not a choice. It's the only way.

Youth culture, as we interpret it, does not subscribe to the idea that those who are participants are young in their stage of life. This list of women—carefully curated from over 500 nominations—is one that spans over two generations of changemakers and is not beholden to age. These are individuals who are both youth peers actively working to undo generational oppression in all forms and women who have dedicated their lives to investing in young people.

As much as the world has relied on a reserve of young people to progress, we, as a global nation, have forgotten to pour back into them. Africa, as always, has the most potential for exponential growth and change of any of the continents. We have the resources and the minds. With the youngest population in the world, progression is inevitable. But with many of our young people still underserved in many areas, we must continue to empower, bankroll, educate, and provide opportunity.

That's exactly what this year's list has done.

Honorees like Ghana's outspoken model Adwoa Aboah—who has created a safe online community for young girls and women to discuss range of issues from mental health to sexuality—and 18-year-old Olympic short track speed skater Maame Biney are advocating for autonomy through sex positivity and sports.

Fashion designers like Nigeria's 21-year-old Teni (Tia) Adeola of SlashedByTia and south Sudanese beauty blogger Nyma Tang are utilizing the tools of social media to create visibility for young African entrepreneurs like never before.

From Hollywood (Zimbabwe-American Danai Gurira and Senegal's Anna Diop) to literature (Nigerian-American Tomi Adeyemi and Cape Verde's Shauna Barbosa), African women are creating narratives for young Black girls that rival if not surpass mainstream.

And Ilhan Omar, America's first Somali-American Congresswoman (and one of two Muslim Congresswoman) is stoking fire in the U.S. to finally challenge the archaic and white supremacy patriarchy of its government.

These women are disrupting the status quo socially, economically, and politically. They are creating safe spaces for African women globally, driving technological and scientific advancements, pushing for inclusivity in television, film, art and media and steering us toward a more sustainable way of living.

The annual OkayAfrica 100 Women List is our effort to acknowledge and uplift African women, not only as a resource that has and will continue to enrich the world we live in, but as a group that deserves to be recognized, reinforced and treasured on a global scale.

The youth will lead the way. This is our ode to them.

—Christina Coleman

News Brief

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The series is set in a world where black people are the ruling class, while white people deal with discrimination and prejudice.

Stormzy has landed a lead role in a drama developed by BBC and Roc Nation, Variety reports.

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Listen to Ibibio Sound Machine's New Album 'Doko Mien'

A blend of electronic sounds and '70s West African disco.

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The UK-based group, fronted by Nigerian singer Eno Williams, expertly blend electronic sounds with West African influences, taking cues from '70s West African disco.

They just dropped their latest single, "Wanna Come Down," which the band describes as an "infectious jam from the album that mixes disco, '80s electro with English and Ibibio language lyrics." Doko Mien, the title of the group's new album. means "tell me" in Ibibio.

"Music is a universal language, but spoken language can help you think about what makes you emotional, what makes you feel certain feelings, what you want to see in the world," mentions Eno Williams.

Listen to Doko Mien below and catch Ibibio Sound Machine on their North American tour (dates below).

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At Least 60 People Killed In Fatal Bus Collision In Ghana

Several people are mourning the victims as well as the tragic loss of life that has occurred throughout the continent this month.

A head on collision of two buses early Friday morning in the Bono East region of Ghana has killed at least 60 people, according to the AFP.

The fatal accident took place on the Kintampo-Techiman highway in Kintampo—an area just under 300 miles north of Accra—after which one of the buses caught on fire.

The devastating accident has left several others with serious injuries. "Most of the passengers in both vehicles died at the spot. A number of them with varying degrees of injuries have been rushed to hospital," a police spokesperson told BBC Africa.

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