In view of the International Women’s Day, OkayAfrica has published its annual “100 Women” list, which celebrates powerful African women around the world.
OkayAfrica is an online platform that connects a global audience to African culture and its global diaspora through authentic content and immersive experiences.
The women listed were said to be selected based on their impact and influence as change agents and innovators in their industries. According to the online platform, this year’s list is dedicated to the youth.
“This year, we celebrate the daughters of the continent for their dedication to disrupting the status quo locally and creating safe spaces for African women globally; driving technological and scientific advancements; and for pushing for inclusivity in television, film, art, and media for this generation and those that will follow,”
Of the 100 women selected from across African countries, 22 Nigerian women are represented.
Born in the US to a Nigerian father and a Chinese mother, Adesuwa is considered one of the most outspoken models in the industry. She is a true advocate for social change and diversity. She raised her activism with her directorial debut, Spring in Harlem—a short film that captures the beauty of five Muslim women in New York’s uptown neighborhood—and in the near future, she plans to create a mini-series exploring African culture and values.
Amarachi Nwosu is a visual artist, a writer, director, project curator, podcaster and content creator. With her recently launched Melanin Unscripted, a platform dedicated to showing the true narratives of young people, she is bridging gaps and highlighting the very real experiences of Black people around the world. Her Black in Tokyo documentary tells the story of diasporic Africans living abroad.
Bibi Bakare-Yusuf is the co-founder of Cassava Republic Press, a publishing house. Noticing the need for diverse African stories, she set out to publish more inclusive writing that resonated with a wider audience.
Her company published the book, She Called Me Woman—a collection of testimonies by queer Nigerian women about sexuality and womanhood. For her work in publishing and challenging the perception of African life consistently, Bibi has impacted youth culture in all the ways she intended.
BOSE OGULU (MAMA BURNA)
Bose Ogulu is the mother and manager of Nigerian Afro-fusion artist Burna Boy. She is also an academic and professional. With a Bachelor of Arts in foreign languages (she speaks French, Italian, German, English, and Yoruba), and a Masters of Arts in translation. She had a successful career as a translator for the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce.
From 1997 to 2015, she was the CEO of Language Bridges, a language and music school, where she organized cultural immersion trips for over 1,800 young people. She also manages other acts like musical and visual artist Nissi Nation and author Benson Idonije.
Chidera Eggerue is the creator of #SaggyBoobsMatter. She is also the author of the award-winning book, What A Time To Be Alone.
Dami Olonisakin is a sex and relationship expert and fierce advocate for sex positivity. She has created a platform that allows young women and men to discover their sexuality, safely and even anonymously. With her Ask Oloni form, visitors can inquire about sexual and relationship dilemmas from behind their computer screens. She’s able to create important dialogue around issues affecting young people, from abuse to safe sex.
Damilola Odufuwa is the founder of Wine & Whine, a Lagos-based online community and monthly event where Nigerian women “can feel physically and emotionally safe to have the important conversations and ask necessary questions” about sexual abuse, financial literacy and more.
Grace Ladoja is a creative director to international act, Skepta. She masterminded the artist’s repositioning with a strategy that put a renewed focus on authenticity, leadership and independence.
She is also a filmmaker, a consultant and ambassador for the world’s most coveted brand, Supreme. In April 2018, she found a movement called Homecoming—a groundbreaking 3-day cultural exchange spanning fashion, music, and sport.
Iziegbe Odigie is a 22-year-old Afrofusion dancer and the co-founder of TRŸBE Dancerz (a group of female African dancers). The group is an inspiration to young girls searching for their identity and purpose. She’s accomplished a lot in recent years—creating viral choreography, dancing in music videos and influencing trends —but she sees her impact in pushing African culture to the forefront as her biggest job to date.
Jenn is a Nigerian-British and award-winning filmmaker, who is known for her work with international artists including Beyonce and her husband.
Her most celebrated project, Rebirth Is Necessary, is a short film that encapsulates her thoughts and dream-like visions of Black universality. Nkiru hopes her radically artful offerings will help Black youth explore ideas and push thought processes forward.
Julie Adenuga is a radio personality at Apple’s Beats 1 Radio. She is seen as a spreader of the Afrobeat genre and gatekeeper of African youth culture and has become not only a trusted voice in music but also as one of the premier tastemakers in the UK.
Karen Okonkwo is the co-founder of TONL, a company that encourages and creates diversity within the stock photography industry. Her Instagram shows a tiled array of brown and black people, genders, identities, abilities and sexual orientations. For her, it is a true representation of the global world today.
With the December 2018 cover of British Vogue—featuring Letitia Wright, Dua Lipa, and Binx Walton—Nadine Ijewere made history as the first woman of color to shoot the cover of any Vogue in the magazine’s 125-year history.
Niniola is a singer, songwriter, performer, sound innovator, and philanthropist. Apata first caught national attention in 2013 as a contestant on the sixth season of the popular Project Fame West Africa. But it was her first single “IBADI” that properly launched her career. Since then, she has built a unique sound for herself as the Afro House queen, one that mixes South African house with the attitude and lyrics that are unabashedly Nigerian. Her 2017 hit “Maradona”—her biggest yet—exemplifies this best.
Oby Ezekwesili dedicated her life to bringing back the 300 Chibok girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 (#BringBackOurGirls), Ezekwesili is a respected and active voice for the country and has co-founded initiatives such as the Transparency International, a global watchdog group that fights against corruption on the continent.
Nigerian-American artist Okwui Okpokwasili uses her body like an instrument. Drawing on the storytelling elements of West African Griot poets, the Igbo choreographer works at what she calls the intersection of dance, theater, art practices, and sound.
For her work that focuses on the interior live of women of color, she’s received many accolades but probably none as prestigious as the MacArthur Genius Award which she won in 2018.
Nigerian-American Oronike Odeleye is the co-founder of #MUTERKELLY, a movement to silence the singer’s music for the alleged sexual abuse of women and girls.
“I have been standing up for women of the Black African diaspora my whole life. This recent work supporting sexual abuse victims was sparked by my outrage at our society’s lack of empathy and support for R. Kelly’s many underaged victims.”
Nigerian-American Rosalyn Gold-Onwude is breaking ground in the typically male-dominated field of sportscasting. As one of few women broadcasters, most recently for NBA on TNT, the former college basketball player is aware of her position and is deliberate in how she shows up. For her, that means speaking up for women and embracing the African and Black culture of hair.
Teni Adeola’s designs are easily recognizable; billowy, but structured ruffles that illuminate with movement, sheer tops studded with pearls, flamenco-inspired trousers. At only 21 years old, the Nigerian-born fashion designer has a sophisticated touch that has celebrities going crazy for her looks; Gigi Hadid has stepped out in one of Adeola’s Slashed by Tia designs, ruffles have been rocked by SZA, and even Chloe x Halle are fans.
TENI THE ENTERTAINER
Whether through her music or her personality—both vibrantly displayed on her Instagram page—Nigerian musician Teniola Apata brings an abundance of joy to everything she touches. The musical firecracker, better known as Teni the Entertainer, is also incredibly diverse in her talents as a singer, songwriter, rapper, drummer, and comedian, and is definitely one to watch in the Nigerian music scene.
Tomi Adeyemi’s best-selling young adult novel “Children of Blood and Bone” entered the literary canon with a boom. The story, which follows protagonist Zélie Adebola and draws on elements of Yoruba spirituality, is the first in its trilogy and had already been picked up for the big screen before it was even published.
YOMI ADEGOKE & ELIZABETH UVIEBINENÉ
Yomi Adegoke & Elizabeth Uviebinené are the authors of the book, Slay In Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible. The book is an inspirational guide that compiles personal essays from the authors with interviews from over two dozen successful British Black women, quite literally serving as a bible of sorts to Black teenagers and young adult women looking for advice in areas from relationships to career.