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Africa: Artists, Advocates and Phenoms – Africans Honoured on Time’s 100 Next List




Cape Town — The inaugural Time 100 Next list has revealed the rising stars who are revolutionising their respective fields and industries. Six Africans were among the prestigious lineup, making names for themselves among the artists, advocates and phenoms sections. Let’s take a closer look at who they are.


Wanuri Kahiu

Born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1980, Wanuri Kahiu is a film director, producer and author. Her short film Pumzi, which was screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival as part of its New African Cinema program, earned the recommendation of American filmmaker and writer dream hampton who in a brief tribute to Kahiu described it as “characteristic” over her work for its portrayal of black women.

Kahiu also earned recognition for her 2018 feature, Rafiki, which, despite its initial ban in Kenya over its depiction of a same-sex relationship, made history as the first film from that nation to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. It was also screened at the 2018 London Film Festival.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby

Having produced works valued in millions of dollars at auction, Nigerian-born Njideka Akunyili Crosby is an award-winning visual artist. Two of her works, for example – Drown and The Beautyful Ones – were sold for U.S.$900,000 and U.S.$3 million respectively.

Crosby has, among many accomplishments, earned a Master of Fine Arts degree at Yale University and was the second artist to be selected to design a mural on the walls of the Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art. She has been recognised for creating scenes that depict brightly colored scenes of domestic life that are autobiographical in nature and that incorporate elements of both Nigeria and the United States, according to Time reporter Madeleine Carlisle.


Magid Magid

Born in Somalia in 1989, Magid Magid fled the country in 1994, along with his mother and five siblings to escape the civil war. After spending six months in an Ethiopian refugee camp, the family moved to Sheffield, England in hopes of finding a better life.

Today, Magid is a Member of the European Parliament who aims to make politics more accessible to youth. He sits on the main committee responding to the migration crisis in Europe, and works to prevent the deaths of migrants and refugees travelling across the Mediterranean. His historic 2018 appointment as the Lord Mayor of Sheffield gained significant media attention as he is the first ethnic Somali and the youngest-ever person to assume the role. Speaking to Time’s Suyin Haynes, Magid said: “My story is important in the current climate that we’re living in where refugees and migrants are dehumanized.”


Adut Akech

South Sudan-born model Adut Akech has been hailed by Times’ Cady Lang as the embodiment of the future of fashion. Raised in Kakuma, Kenya, the 19-year-old started her modelling career in Australia three years ago and has shot editorials for American Vogue, Le Monde M Magazine and T Magazine, among other publications.

Her meteoric rise has come with several achievements, including closing the Chanel haute couture show as the “bride” – a highly coveted role featuring a supermodel wearing a wedding dress – and being one of fifteen women selected to appear on the cover of the September 2019 issue of British Vogue. Akech also champions social justice by casting light on racism in the fashion industry as well as providing a platform for her fellow refugees.

Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi

Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi is the founder of Stand to End Rape (STER). A survivor of sexual assault, she told Time’s Suyin Haynes: “Telling my story as a survivor, that comes with a lot of stigma.” STER’s services, which include training for health workers and counselling for survivors, have reached nearly 200,000 people across Nigeria.

Osowobi holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Swansea University in the United Kingdom and has also been honoured as one of 200 emerging leaders from across Africa by the Obama Foundation. What’s next for her in 2020? Lobbying the Nigerian government to draft a stronger bill to address harassment at universities.