Chief Justice David Maraga, who made history when he led a majority of Supreme Court judges in annuling the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta in the August 8 General Election, is among nine Kenyans who made it to New African Magazine’s list of 100 most influential Kenyans.
Apart from Maraga, other Kenyans are Ijara MP Sophia Noor, Centum CEO James Mworia, lawyer PLO Lumumba. Med in Africa founder Yvonne Mburu, Arimus Media Limited CEO Julie Gichuru, Nutritionist Ruth Oniang’o and athletes Faith Kipyegon and Helen Obiri.
A deafblind Harvard University law graduate activist, an attitude-changing teen dance troop from a Ugandan slum, and a Mauritanian modern day slavery abolitionist hero, are also among the fresh faces joining renown business magnates, political heavyweights and showbiz stars in the annual list released Thursday.
The list – the magazine’s most diverse to date – is spread over eight categories: politics and public service; business and finance; civil society and activism; education; science, technology and innovation; media; arts and culture; and sport – profiles both continental and Diasporan Africans nominated by their peers and industry insiders.
“What our readers will find pleasing, is the almost bewildering diversity of this list – in terms of race, ethnic and national diversity. This list, if nothing else, displays the beauty and power of the diversity that makes the Africa we all love,” says Omar Ben Yedder – Group Publisher and Managing Director of IC Publications.
For the first time since the magazine began publishing this acclaimed end-of-year list five years ago, the 2017 list features 42 women out of the 100, the highest number of female entries so far.
With 21 entries, Nigeria tops the nominations, closely followed by South Africa which scored 14 names. In total the list includes entries from 31 countries including 12 Francophone Africa.
Popular new entries include the Triplets Ghetto Kids dance troop from Uganda and Ghanaian born new Editor of British Vogue Edward Kobina Enninful, as well as new heavyweight boxing sensation Nigerian-British Anthony Joshua.
Only three Heads of State made the list this year – Ghana’s Nana Akufo-Addo, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and President Alpha Conde of Guinea. Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo also made the list in the Politics and Public Service category for how he served as a safe pair of hands during President Buhari’s enforced absence for most part of 2017.
Leading business magnates Aliko Dangote (Nigeria), Mohammed Dewji (Tanzania) make a return on the Business and Finance category, which also sees two names that have been media fodder this year, Angola’s Isabel dos Santos and Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais. This year also has more French and Arab speaking entries in this category.
However, perhaps as a sign of shifting interests and changing times in Africa, the Arts and Culture showbiz section has the highest number of entries and most of the new names. Making a return in this category is Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, who is joined by fresh faces such as Adwoa Aboah and the refreshing Hijab wearing Somali top model Halima Aden.
Surfacing in the Civic society and Activism category is a new breed of activists including those fighting for the routinely ignored yet important rights of people with disabilities in Africa. Nigeria’s Eros Ikponwosa – herself affected by albinism makes the list for her work with the UN Human Rights Commission in highlight the plight of people with albinism. With the raw and heartrending recent exposé of Libya’s Africans slave-trade, the entry of Mauritania’s anti-slavery hero Biram Dah Abeid in this category, is poignant.
“Our criteria for “influential” this year was a fairly simple one – it is applied to people whose work or activity has had some sort of transformative effect outside their main calling. This effect results in a change of perception or provides inspiration to others. Many in our selection have shattered the proverbial glass-ceilings or disability stigma and do so with great bravery, determination and personal sacrifice. Others yield economic power that impacts world markets,” explains Anver Versi, the magazine’s Editor.
He adds: “African talent in the arts, culture, sports and technology has also has a huge impact on changing the world’s perception towards Africa and its people.”