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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.

Photo courtesy of CSA Global.

In Conversation with Congolese NBA Player Emmanuel Mudiay: 'I want more African players in the NBA.'

The Utah Jazz player talks about being African in the NBA, supporting basketball in the DRC and how 'everybody knows about Burna Boy'.

Inspired by his basketball-playing older brothers, by second grade, Emmanuel Mudiay already knew that he wanted to play in the American National Basketball Association. Then in 2001 his family, fleeing the war in Democratic Republic of Congo, sought asylum in the United States.

In America, Mudiay saw basketball as a way for him to improve his situation. After impressive high school and college careers, he moved to China to play pro ball. Picked 7th overall in the 2015 NBA draft, the now 23-year-old guard has made a name for himself this season coming off the bench for the Utah Jazz.

Mudiay attests to the sport having changed not only his life but that of his siblings. Basketball gave them all a chance at a good education and the opportunity to dream without conditions. Now he wants to see other talented African players make it too.

We caught up with him to talk about his experience as an African player in the NBA, his hopes for basketball on the African continent and who he and his teammates jam out to in their locker rooms.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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University lecturer and activist Doctor Stella Nyanzi (L) reacts in court as she attends a trial to face charges for cyber-harassment and offensives communication, in Kampala, on April 10, 2017. (Photo by GAEL GRILHOT/AFP via Getty Images)

Jailed Ugandan Activist, Stella Nyanzi, Wins PEN Prize for Freedom of Expression

The outspoken activist, who is currently serving a prison sentence for a poem she wrote about the president's mother's vagina, won for her resistance "in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her."

Stella Nyanzi, the Ugandan academic, activist, and vocal critic of President Yoweri Museveni has been awarded the 2020 Oxfam Novib/PEN International award for freedom of expression, given to writers who "continue to work for freedom of expression in the face of persecution."

Nyanzi is currently serving a 15 month sentence for "cyber harassment" after she published a poem in which she wrote that she wished "the acidic pus flooding Esiteri's (the president's mother) vaginal canal had burn up your unborn fetus. Burn you up as badly as you have corroded all morality and professionalism out of our public institutions in Uganda."

According to the director of PEN International, Carles Torner, her unfiltered outspokenness around the issues facing her country is what earned her the award. "For her, writing is a permanent form of resistance in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her," said Torner at the award ceremony.

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Photo: Ben Depp.

Watch Yilian Canizares & Paul Beaubrun's Beautiful Video For 'Noyé'

"Cuba and Haiti come together to share the love and heritage of our deep rooted culture and spirituality."

Yilian Canizares and Paul Beaubrun connect for the serene "Noyé," one of the highlights from Canizares' latest album, Erzulie.

The Cuban singer and Haitian artist are now sharing the new Arnaud Robert-directed music video for the single, which we're premiering here today.

"Noyé is a song that comes from our roots," Yilian Canizares tells OkayAfrica. "Inspired by the energy of love. The same love that kept Africa's legacy alive in the hearts of Haiti and Cuba. We wanted to do a stripped down version of only the essential pieces from a musical point of view. Something raw and beautiful where our souls would be naked."

The striking music video follows Canizares and Beaubrun to the waters of New Orleans, the universal Creole capital, where they sing and float until meeting on the Mississippi River.

"Noyé is a cry of love from children of African descent," says Paul Beaubrun. "Cuba and Haiti come together to share the love and heritage of our deep rooted culture and spirituality."

Watch the new music video for "Noyé" below.

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