It goes without saying but i’ll say it anyway – Continental African’s get our shine on wherever we go. In almost every industry, the bylines of the world’s emerging leaders are looking like a young continental African “Who’s Who”. Here’s a look at a group of young African influencers who deserve kudos and a slow clap for their accomplishments. We see you and we’re excited about what’s to come.
Young African Influencers in the Diaspora
Rahiel Tesfamariam is a native of Eritrea who was raised in Washington D.C. She is a social activist, public theologian, writer and international speaker. She is the brains behind #NotOneDime a nationwide economic boycott launched in the aftermath of the Ferguson non-indictment decision. Rahiel is also the founder and publisher of Urban Cusp, a cutting-edge online lifestyle magazine highlighting progressive urban culture, faith, social change and global awareness.
Chef Rougui Dia, “The African Queen of Parisian Cuisine” was born in Paris to Senegalese parents. While serving as Executive Chef at Le 144, a restaurant affiliated with Paris’ posh art deco venue and restaurant, Petrossian, Dia became one of the most respected female chefs in France. She later presided over the kitchen at Le Vraymonde, an upscale restaurant located in Paris’ Buddha-Bar Hotel.
Abiola Oke left the Bronx as a youngster to attend high school in Nigeria. Coming back to the States to finish high school, he did a quick stint at Howard University. Needless to say, the Mecca left an undeniable Pan-africanist mark on his consciousness and would help to influence his future career. He graduated from City College and worked for a top corporate finance firm until leaving the industry to step into the role as CEO of OKAYAFRICA. OKAYAFRICA is a media company that presents African culture to the world in a unique way, while empowering progressive artists. Abiola’s goal is to provide a platform for African artists to express their art and share it in a way that is authentic and far-reaching.
Angelica Nwandu is a Sundance Screenwriter Fellow and the creator of The Shade Room, the first blog to publish directly to Instagram. She was recently named one of Forbes 30 under 30. Since its start in early 2014, The Shade Room has grown into a lucrative enterprise. The site currently has four million followers and reportedly pulls in hundreds of thousands of followers each month.
Adewale “Wally” Adeyemoa is a Nigerian-American who grew up in Southern California. In December 2015, President Barack Obama appointed him as his Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs. In a statement released by the White House, President Obama remarked, “I will be calling on Wally’s intellect, judgment and dedication as we sustain America’s global economic leadership, which reinforces our national security, and as we work with allies and partners around the world to create jobs and opportunity for all our people.”
Luvvie Ajayi was born in Nigeria and moved to the U.S. when she was nine. She is the creator of Awesomely Luvvie, a popular entertainment and humor blog that covers everything pop culture. Last year, she was named a 2015 Black Innovator by XFINITY Comcast. With over a decade of experience, you could say that she’s an O.G. in the blogging game. Her first book, titled, I’M JUDGING YOU: The Do Better Manual, was released in September and quickly became a New York Times bestseller.
In January 2015, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser appointed Mamadou Samba to serve as the Director of the Mayor’s Office of African Affairs. Originally from Dakar, Mamadou is passionate about addressing the challenges faced by African immigrants in the District and nationwide. He has played a significant role in securing grants for African nonprofit organizations and highlighting issues impacting African-born residents in the United States.
Nina Oduro grew up in Ghana and moved to Virginia at the age of seven, She is the founder of AfricanDevJobs.com, an online platform that connects organizations and professionals who are focused on Africa’s growth and development. Her company offers employment opportunities and career advancement resources. Nina is also the co-founder of Dine Diaspora, a lifestyle and events company that creates dynamic experiences around food, culture, and heritage.
A native of Rwanda, Jackson Mvunganyi is a Radio host and new media reporter at Voice of America. In 2007 VOA’s launched a youth-oriented talk show, Upront Africa. It became the first cross continental radio show reaching millions of students and young professionals around Africa and beyond. His more than 17,000 Twitter followers include President Obama.
Zim Ugochukwu is the Founder & CEO of Travel Noire, a digital platform that has become one of the most popular resources for Black travelers. She was recently listed on Forbes 2016 ’30 Under 30’ list as of the brightest young entrepreneurs. Thanks to Zim, it is now obvious to those that didn’t know – Black people love to get their travel on!
Rediate Tekeste is a first generation Ethiopian-American and founder of the Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship (EDF). This Los Angeles-based fellowship program connects young Ethiopians in the diaspora with their home country and provides them with the opportunity to be part of the country’s development through practical work experience.
Samuel Bazawule, known by the stage name Blitz the Ambassador, is a Ghanaian-American hip-hop artist, composer, producer and visual artist based in Brooklyn. He was recently named TED Fellow, Blitz combines the political boldness of Public Enemy, and the groove sense of Fela Kuti. His label, Embassy MVMT, is proving that Hip Hop fans are tired of the same old radio playlists and are hungry for music that is more creative and thoughtful.
Mariéme Jamme is a Senegalese-born businesswoman based in the U.K. Her company, Spotone Global Solutions helps technology companies develop business in new markets such as Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Mariéme is also an international speaker and co-founder of Africa Gathering, the first global platform bringing together entrepreneurs and others to share ideas about development in Africa. She was named by the World Economic Forum as one of its Young Global Leaders for 2013.
Ugandan fashion model, Aamito Lagum, — a former Top Model winner, is more recently known for the controversy caused by racist comments about her lips that were posted on MAC cosmetics Instagram page. Aamito boldly took to the internet in defense of her beauty, and the beauty of other women with similar features. This prompted campaigns like #PrettyLipsPeriod (created by Dr. Yaba Blay and Thembisa Mshaka) where Black women around the world unapologetically celebrate their full lips.
Yinka Ilori is a U.K based designer. He is passionately against the unnecessary waste he has seen in European and West African consumer cultures. His craft and vision is collecting discarded furniture, and re-upholstering and designing into something new. Yinka is inspired by the traditional Nigerian parables and African fabrics that surrounded him as child.
Folasade Adeoso is a New York-based, Nigerian-born, model and digital artist. She’s the chief editor and writer behind the lifestyle blog, LoveFola and the owner of the online boutique, “1953 | THE COLLECTIONS”. Folasade is known for her digital collages, which mix archival and contemporary images into Dalí-esque visions.
Chef Djibril Bodian is a second-generation baker of Senegalese origin. Last year he won first prize in the Grand Prix de la Baguette de Tradition Française de la Ville de Paris, a.k.a. The Best Baguette in Paris Competition. Chef Djibril also won the top prize five years ago. This prestigious award allowed him to be the only baguette supplier to French President Holland at the Elysées Palace. The fame and publicity didn’t hurt his pockets either. He can be found creating baked goodness at ‘Grenier à Pain’ in Montmartre.
Heben Nigatu was born in Ethiopia and moved to the U.S. when she was five. The Columbia grad is a senior editor at Buzzfeed and co-host of “Another Round”, Buzzfeed’s most successful podcast. Heben was recently ranked #17 on Forbe’s 30 Under 30 in media. The podcast, (an iTunes’ podcast top 100) gets hundreds of thousands of listeners a month and touches on topics that range from race and politics to pop culture and favorite alcoholic drinks.
Bouba Dola was born in Kinshasa, Congo. His family moved to the Netherlands when he was a child. He studied at HKU in Utrecht and has been working throughout the Netherlands, specifically between Amsterdam and Rotterdam. He focuses his creative energy on the infusion of digital art – drawings, music and videos. His collaboration with young Black Dutch hip hop artists has helped to jump start many of their careers. His sound is reminiscent of the Los Angeles music of Flying Lotus but with elements of ancient Kikongo vibrations and patterns. Currently, Bouba is working on his first cinematic work.
Saran Kaba Jones is a clean water advocate and social entrepreneur from Liberia. She is the founder of Face Africa, a U.S.-based non-profit organization that provides access to clean drinking water in Liberia’s rural communities, where running water and sewage infrastructure is often scarce. Face Africa was launched in 2009, and has provided clean water to thousands of rural Liberians. Saran was named by the World Economic Forum as one of its Young Global Leaders for 2013.