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

Interview

Interview: Wavy The Creator Is Ready to See You Now

The multidisciplinary Nigerian-American artist on tapping into all her creative outlets, creating interesting things, releasing a new single and life during quarantine.

A trip canceled, plans interrupted, projects stalled. It is six months now since Wavy the Creator has had to make a stop at an undisclosed location to go into quarantine and get away from the eye of the pandemic.

The professional recording artist, photographer, writer, fashion artist, designer, and evolving creative has been spending all of this time in a house occupied by other creatives. This situation is ideal. At least for an artist like Wavy who is always in a rapid motion of creating and bringing interesting things to life. The energy around the house is robust enough to tap from and infuse into any of her numerous creative outlets. Sometimes, they also inspire trips into new creative territories. Most recently, for Wavy, are self-taught lessons on a bass guitar.

Wavy's days in this house are not without a pattern, of course. But some of the rituals and personal rules she drew up for herself, like many of us did for internal direction, at the beginning of the pandemic have been rewritten, adjusted, and sometimes ditched altogether. Some days start early and end late. Some find her at her sewing machine fixing up thrift clothes to fit her taste, a skill she picked up to earn extra cash while in college, others find her hard at work in the studio, writing or recording music.

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(Youtube)

The 10 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Wizkid, Alicia Keys x Diamond Platnumz, Manu WorldStar, Maya Amolo, La Dame Blanche and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our best music of the week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here, Apple Music here and YouTube Music here

Check out all of OkayAfrica's playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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News Brief

Michael Kiwanuka Wins Highly Coveted 2020 Mercury Prize

The British-Ugandan artist proves that staying true to yourself will get you further than you can imagine.

British-Ugandan musician Michael Kiwanuka has gone on to win the 2020 Mercury Prize at this year's virtual awards ceremony.

The win was assigned to Kiwanuka's 2019 album KIWANUKA, produced by Danger Mouse and Inflo. KIWANUKA, Michael's third full-length so far, seems to be the artists' most personal one yet.

In his own words, Kiwanuka told New Statesman, "I thought, what better way to say that you're comfortable with who you are than by using just your name? KIWANUKA goes against fame, it goes against success. It's not in the pocket, it's not a smooth rock'n'roll name that's up in lights. It can be clumsy, if you haven't seen it before."

Well, we are certainly grateful for the singer's personal evolution as it has landed him top honors in the industry, as well as, amongst his die hard fans.

The artist said of his win, "I don't even know what to say - I'm speechless. This is amazing...I don't even have any words. This is ridiculous, it's crazy! I'm so happy. Third time's a charm. It's blown my mind. I'm over the moon, I'm so excited - this is for art, for music, for albums. This is the only thing I've ever wanted to do so to win a Mercury is a dream come true. I'm so happy. Music and art means so much to me and this is an award that celebrates that so I'm over the moon."

Watch Michael Kiwanuka's performance of "You Ain't The Problem" off of his Mercury Prize winning album "KIWANUKA" here.

Mercury Prize 2020 Winner | Michael Kiwanuka - You Ain't The Problem (Later... With Jools Holland) www.youtube.com

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