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These Influential Africans Made the 2019 TIME 100 List

South Africa's own Caster Semenya, Egypt's Mohamed Salah and more join this year's notables making an impact in their communities and around the world.

The 2019 TIME 100 list is here—where Time magazine annually recognizes the 100 most influential people in the world.

Divvied up in the categories of pioneers, artists, leaders, icons and titans, notables in the arts, politics, sports, business, education, advocacy were acknowledged by their peers as to why they deserve such recognition—regardless of the consequences (or lack thereof) of their impact.

Six African influencers from the continent and the diaspora made the list this year—check them out below.


Rami Malek

Egyptian-American actor Rami Malek took this past year by storm playing the role of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. As Robery Downey Jr. reflects, "I contend that his mother Nelly, his father Said, his sister Yasmine and his brother Sami are the foundational pillars to his rise. Mighta just been destiny…more likely it's yet another testament to hardworking immigrants raising their kids right and pushing our culture toward the light."

Caster Semenya

We all know South Africa's Caster Semenya is a fighter in many ways than one. "Her success has brought controversy in elite sport, with many arguing that her biological traits give her an unfair advantage in women's competition," Olympian Edwin Moses says. "But Semenya is fighting that. Sport eligibility, she and others say, should not be based on hormone levels or other differences of sex development. If successful, Semenya's effort could open the door for all who identify as women to compete in track events without having to first medically lower their testosterone levels below a proposed limit."

Fred Swaniker

Ghanaian entrepreneur and leadership development expert Fred Swaniker has made an impact tapping into developing the continent's most valuable asset—the youth. "Fred understood that the key to success was not about leading the youth along a preordained path, but about allowing them to become authors of their own stories," Mo Ibrahim says. "That is what has inspired his educational initiatives: the African Leadership Academy, African Leadership Network and African Leadership University. Together, they hope to educate 3 million leaders of tomorrow."

Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah, Egypt's hero on and off the pitch, once again is getting due praise for his impact on the sport. "You'd be hard-pressed to find a professional athlete in any sport less affected by their success or status than Mo, which is incredible because I can't imagine the kind of pressure that comes with the intensity of adoration he receives," HBO's John Oliver says. "As a footballer, he plays with an infectious joy. I've always wondered what it would feel like to be able to play as well as him, and watching his face light up after he does something incredible, you get the reassuring sense that it's exactly as fun as you'd want it to be."

Abiy Ahmed

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also made this year's list for his impact on turning a new leaf in his country. Olympic silver-medalist Feyisa Lilesa, who was exiled in 2016 after protesting during the Rio Olympics, writes: "In Ethiopian history, we have never seen a leader like him. He's an educated person who talks about unity. He has released thousands of people from jail. He brought peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea after 20 years of war. And he made it possible for me to come home," he says. "Yes, people are still protesting. But now, when they protest, they aren't going to jail. To me, that is democracy. That is hope."

Cyril Ramaphosa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is being recognized for taking on the challenges facing his country and the potential that comes with it. "Ramaphosa, or Cyril, as he's known to South Africans, has the chance to end corruption and grow the stalled economy," Time correspondent Vivienne Walt says. "That could be his toughest battle yet. Blackouts, grinding poverty and massive unemployment have left millions desperate for quick results. Vicious infighting in his African National Congress party leaves him vulnerable to a coup, or perhaps an ouster in elections on May 8. For all that, Ramaphosa has kept his characteristic chuckle and his knack for focusing on the bigger picture. 'Unity,' he said recently, 'was never going to happen overnight.' After a lifetime fighting his enemies, he should know."

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Find the full TIME 100 list here.

Image supplied by Candice Chirwa.

In Conversation with Candice Chirwa: 'Menstruation is More than Just Bleeding for Seven Days.'

South African activist Candice Chirwa, the 'Minister of Menstruation', speaks to us about what a period-positive world looks like, the challenges menstruators face even in 2020 and her important advocacy work with QRATE.

It's 2020, and naturally, tremendous advancements have been made across various spheres of society. From the prospect of self-driving cars and drones delivering medicines to rural areas to comparatively progressive politics and historic "firsts" for many disenfranchised groups, we've certainly come a long way. However, in the midst of all that progress, there is still one issue which continues to lag behind considerably and consistently, particularly in less developed countries: menstruation.

Candice Chirwa is a young Black woman on a mission to fiercely change the disempowering narratives and taboos that still shroud the issue of menstruation. The 24-year-old South African activist, who is endearingly known as the "Minister of Menstruation" on social media, wants young girls and women to not only accept but embrace their bodies fully in a society that insists on speaking in hushed tones about a perfectly normal biological process. Both Chirwa's research and advocacy work with the UN and her award-winning NGO, QRATE, has focused on dispelling common myths about menstruating, removing the shame and stigma around it and giving menstruators the knowledge and tools they need to navigate their world through impactful workshops.

And when Chirwa isn't collaborating with Lil-Lets, one of the biggest sanitary product brands on the continent, or co-authoring a bad-ass book titled Perils of Patriarchy, she's dominating the TEDx stage and making sure that her audience, no matter how diverse or varied, leaves the room feeling comfortable and courageous enough to boldly shout the word "vagina".

We caught up with Chirwa to discuss what initially compelled her to become a "period-positive" activist, her continued advocacy work with QRATE and what kind of world she imagines for menstruators.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP via Getty Images.

The Nigerian Army Has Denied Opening of Deadly Fire on #EndSARS Protesters

Despite considerable footage depicting #EndSARS protesters at Lekki Toll Gate having been shot at by security forces, the Nigerian military has denied that they were responsible.

Yesterday, several media outlets reported that Nigerians protesting against the infamous Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) were shot at by security forces. What is now being termed a "massacre" by many, occurred at Lekki Toll Gate shortly after the State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, abruptly declared a 24-hour curfew in Lagos. Additionally, unknown men had been filmed removing CCTV cameras from the region prior to the shooting. While there has been no official death toll, many protesters were injured with gruesome images and videos depicting this circulating on social media. No official death toll has been recorded although one protester told the BBC that they personally witnessed at least 20 dead bodies. In response to last night's tragic events, the Nigerian military has denied that they were responsible for shooting at the protesters with live ammunition.

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Photo by Rachel Seidu.

#EndSARS: Security Forces Open Deadly Fire on Protesting Nigerians

Nigerian security forces have reportedly opened fire on protesters at Lekki Toll Gate amid continued demonstrations against police brutality. This comes after the Nigerian government recently enforced an abrupt curfew in Lagos.

It has been reported that security forces in Nigeria have opened fire on protestors at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos. Several reports from various media outlets have confirmed this incident after numerous images and videos emerged on social media. The footage reveals protesters running away from security forces as they fire live rounds into the crowds while others have been shown to be injured. No fatalities have as yet been officially confirmed by mainstream media. Protesters have continued mass demonstrations against the infamous Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) which has been now been "rebranded" by the Nigerian government to a new unit termed the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT).

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How Davido's 'FEM' Became the Unlikely #EndSARS Protest Anthem

When Nigerian youth shout the line "Why everybody come dey para, para, para, para for me" at protests, it is an act of collective rebellion and rage, giving flight to our anger against the police officers that profile young people, the bureaucracy that enables them, and a government that appears lethargic.