Popular

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."

*

Find the full TIME 100 list here.

Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Fugees Will Be Playing Live Concerts In Ghana & Nigeria

Ready or not.

The legendary Fugees have announced that they will be reuniting for their first shows in 15 years for a string of concerts across North America, Europe and West Africa.

The reunion tour will be celebrating the anniversary of their classic 1996 album, The Score.

Ms. Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel will be embarking on a 12-city global tour, which will have them landing in Nigeria and Ghana for a pair of December show dates — we'll have more details on those to come.

The tour starts this week with a 'secret' pop-up show at an undisclosed location in New York City on Wednesday (9/22) in support of Global Citizen Live. The rest of the dates will kick-off in November and see The Fugees playing concerts across Chicago Los Angeles, Atlanta, Oakland, Miami, Newark, Paris, London, and Washington DC, before finishing off in Nigeria and Ghana.

Keep reading... Show less
Interview

This Compilation Shines a Light On East African Underground Music

We talk to a few of the artists featured on the Music For the Eagles compilation from Uganda's Nyege Nyege.

Nyege Nyege, a label in Kampala, Uganda is channelling the confidence brimming over a whole continent. Africa is no longer the future. For dance music, its time is right now.

Music For the Eagles is a compilation released in conjunction with Soundcloud to showcase the best new acts that East Africa has to offer outside the mainstream. A new wave of artists firmly blasting non-conformist energy for you to spasm to. Music that takes you places. Otim Alpha's high BPM wedding frenzy of incessant rasping vocals accompanied by feverous violin will have you clawing the walls to oblivion. Anti Vairas' dancehall from a battleship with super galactic intentions doesn't even break a sweat as it ruins you. FLO's beautiful sirens call, is a skittish and detuned nursery rhyme that hints at a yearning for love but reveals something far more unnerving. Ecko Bazz's tough spiralling vocal over sub-bass and devil trap energy is an anthem that can only be bewailed. And Kidane Fighter's tune is more trance-like prayer. These are only some of the highlights for you to shake it out to.

We got to chat with a few of the artists featured on the Music For the Eagles compilation as they took a break from the studio below.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

The 6 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Wavy the Creator x WurlD, Epoque, Tems, Silverstone Barz, Kofi Jamar, Olamide x Jaywillz and more