For the past years, some Africans have distinguished themselves in contributing to the growth and progress of the continent in their unique ways. From the investment aspects, through the building of the new African ideology, the promotion of the continent’s cultural values, among many others.
We have taken time to identify and appreciate the effort and influence of some of these people, not with a motive to discredit the contribution of other sons and daughters of the land who are doing well in terms of promoting the continent but to serve as a motivation for them to keep up the good work and also encourage others to contribute greatly to the progress of the continent. The following is EYEGAMBIA’s pick for the ten most influential Africans for the year ending, 2019.
(10). TREVOR NOAH
Known for his comic show, THE DAILY SHOW, Trevor has been very influential over the past years by fusing constructive political criticisms with his unique sense of humor. He has equally implored this seemingly underrated but influential medium for communicating information called “sense of humor” to debunk certain misconceptions about Africa, its culture, and people, which goes a long way toward changing some long-held narratives about the continent.
(9). ABIY AHMED ALI
He is the current and fourth Prime minister of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia. He has been rewarded with the noble peace prize for resolving the decade long border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea that saw the death of more than 100,000 people within two years with many injured. Abiy has also been praised for initiating major development reforms in his country.
(8). SADIO MANE
Sports, especially Football has over the decades been one of the main sectors that gives positive headlines to Africa and one of the many headliners from the continent is Senegal’s Sadio Mane. The 27-year-old Liverpool forward from Senegal has gradually evolved from just a speedy winger with few tricks to a much matured and clinical goal-scoring freak. Mane helped Liverpool lift the European Champions league in 2019, after finishing second behind Madrid in the previous year. Last year, he shared the premier league Golden Boot Award with two other African players for equally netting 22 goals each. Mane led Senegal to the finals of the AFCON 2019 but lost to the Algerian side.
Back home in Bambali, a village in southern Senegal – Mane has been giving back to the community. He is currently financing the construction of a school, hospitals, and a sports complex and gives monthly income to needy families.
On one of his recent interviews, Mane said, “Why would I want 10 Ferraris, 20 diamond watches, or two planes? I built schools, a stadium, we provide clothes, shoes, food for people who are in extreme poverty. I prefer that my people receive a little of what life has given me.”
Mane is an inspiration to thousands of Senegalese and, by extension, African football aspirants. He’s recently crowned as African player of the year for 2019.
(7). JULIUS MALEMA
He is a well-known South African politician and leader of a political party called the Economic Freedom Fighters. With his constructive criticisms of the South African government and unwavering positions on the African pan agenda, Malema has won the hearts of many people in Africa and the world over. Apart from the many advocacies he has championed on African unity and the promotion of the continental cultural values, he has earned the respect of many for using his influence to contribute towards the peace campaign during the series of homophobic outbreaks in South Africa.
(6). BURNA BOY (Damili Ogulu)
The hottest African musician that promoted the continent at the international front for the year under review is Damili Ogu, a well-established Nigerian Pop Star. He has, for the past decade built a solid musical career that attracts international interest. His uniqueness is seen in his versatility, infusing the African genre with Hip-hop, Reggae, and Jamaican Dancehall. He has been rated as the topmost African musician to have drawn a growing US audience with a total music stream of six, twenty-nine, and eighty-nine million from the first to the third quarter of 2019, respectively.
Aside the entertainment aspect of his career, Burnaboy remains an influential political activist who preaches his messages through his lyrics. He wrote great songs on his album captioned African Giant that spoke extensively about corruption in his own country and that of the then British colonization. He featured on many great albums, including Beyonce’s Lion King. His song titled ANYBODY was equally rated by the former President of the United States of America, Barrack Obama, as part of his 2019 favorite songs.
(5). PATRICK LOCH OTIENU LUMUMBA
Born a Kenyan, Professor Lumumba has, for some time, taken the responsibility to enlighten Africans on their true identity, preach a sense of responsibility to the leadership front, root for a united Africa and revamp patriotism among the upcoming generation. In his numerous teachings, Professor Lumumba has always been a strong advocate for homegrown solutions to the continent’s problems. He served formerly as the Director of the Kenyan anti-corruption commission and the former Director of the Kenyan school of law.
(4). ARIKANA CHIHOMBORI-QUAO
The former African Union (AU) ambassador in the United States is one strong and very influential woman who has led so many pan-African opinions that has shaped the collective thoughts of Africans and the world over. Her campaign was geared towards the building of a better and a unified Africa. Dr. Chihombori is well known and loved by many for the astute and straightforward character with which she exposes neo-colonial maneuverings in contemporary times. She has brought a whole different paradigm shift to the political scene by giving strength to the role of women in activism. Aside her political role, Dr. Quao is a medical doctor and a successful entrepreneur by profession.
(3). AKON (Aliaune Badara Thiam)
The renowned Senegalese-American singer and songwriter is one of the young Africans who do not only put the continent on the global map but also invests significantly in its progress. In a bid to resolve the African energy crisis, the musician initiated a project that aims to provide light to 600 million Africans. Together with his team, Akon has installed solar streetlights in many African countries. Currently, the musician is building a solar city in his native country, Senegal
(2). PAUL KAGAME
Second on our list is the former chairperson of the African Union (AU) and President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. He is a very resolute and development minded leader that drove massive growth in Rwanda over the past years, making the once genocide ridden East African country a beacon of hope to the continent and an inspiration to the world at large. His leadership saw major development in the year under review, from the health sector, through the industry, transport, technology, refinery, the provision of basic social services, among many others. As it stands now, many African youths, by popular opinion, wish they have his kind as their leader. He is well known for his strict approach towards corruption and divisive speech with tendencies to reignite ethnic prejudice that the country suffered from years back. Aside his commitment towards the development of his country, Kagame is a strong pan-African advocate with a great sense of unity.
(1). ALIKO DANGOTE
From the allied industries to cement factories and many other aspects, Africa’s richest man, Dangote, has contributed greatly to the continent’s indigenous investment figures as well, providing jobs to many people across the continent. His latest project that caught global attention is the all-important multi-million oil refinery he is building to help save the vast sums of money the continent loses to international refineries. This facility is expected to cost $15billion, with $10billion invested in the refinery, $2.5billion in a fertilizer factory, and the remaining $2.5billion in pipeline infrastructure for oil transportation. The 650,000bdp facility will be situated on 6,180 acres of land area. In our honest opinion, Aliko Dangote owns a bragging right when it comes to the African continent’s real impact.