This generation of Africans and most especially the women in science, arts, entertainment and all industry spectrum have shown that you are not defined by and should not be limited by negative perceptions from others, not be limited by the box society has placed you into or by what or who you think you should be. Africans in 2016 slayed and conquered. The African women in this list are women that have triumphed in international scenery, have experienced defeat on so many personal levels that might be unknown to the world today, it is obvious they are no overnight success as people might think, they are women that have been working hard and laboring in the background fine tuning their crafts and kept on working- today they are shining stars, their work is manifesting and is paying off. They deserve to be celebrated for their success…
Badassboz (Bozoma st John) #unicorn (Ghanaian)
BuzzFeed blasted a post titled “Bozoma Saint John Is the Coolest Person to Ever Go Onstage at an Apple Event,” , The Verge proclaimed “Apple’s Bozoma Saint John Is My Hero.” ,NY Mag profiled her and she has been raved about by multiple platforms also snatching 2016 Billboard Executive of the Year -the significance of the first black woman to present at an Apple event is no small feat. 39, Saint John was born in Ghana and moved to Colorado Springs when she was 14. She cites her father as her biggest inspiration, he was a clarinet player and member of the Ghanaian army before emigrating to the United States to graduate college. Necessity is the father of invention and he invented himself she once said in an interview. He taught himself music and that is why she is in this business of music. Her presentation of the redesigned Apple Music onstage at the June 2016 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference was Saint John’s breakthrough moment. Bozoma “Boz” Saint John is a marketing executive at Apple Music. “You’re it, you have it all inside, don’t look outside for it, you have everything”- the advice she would give young females. She calls herself a unicorn. “Always be yourself unless you can be a unicorn and then always be a unicorn”, a major quote of hers you can mostly find her saying. Also, as profiled in NY Mag, if you don’t call her Boz, then you’re not her friend.
Issa Rae (Senegalese)
31, Writer and creator behind the current HBO hit series Insecure. In 2016 at a holiday Christmas function at the white house, President Obama gave her props about actually watching her show and liking the soundtrack. Issa is a phenomenon- her content has garnered over 25 million views and close to 200,000 subscribers on YouTube. In addition to making the Forbes 30 Under 30 list twice and winning the 2012 Shorty Award for Best Web Show for her hit series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, which is also a New York Times Best Seller, Issa Rae has worked on web content for Pharrell Williams, Tracey Edmonds and numerous others. Rae was born in Los Angeles, California. Her father, Dr. Abdoulaye Diop, is a pediatric doctor from Senegal, and her mother, Delyna Diop (née Hayward), is a teacher from Louisiana. her family lived in Dakar, Senegal for a short period during her childhood.
Luvvie Ajayi (Nigerian)
Her book I’m Judging You is a New York Times Best seller, 2016 was her biggest year yet. A sought after speaker, she has spoken on several notable stages in the U.S. and around the world. They include: The White House, TedXColumbiaCollege, SXSW, Social Media Week (Nigeria, South Africa), U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince (Haiti) Techne Summit (Egypt), National Association of Black Journalists Conference, Nonprofit Technology Conference, SAG/AFTRA Broadcast Conference, among others. In 2016, Ajayi was the first writer invited to speak at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and her event sold out. She is Nigerian born but moved to Chicago at age 9 with her family. She attended University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Luvvie was selected to Oprah Winfrey’s inaugural Supersoul 100 list, voted as Influencer of the Year at the 2016 Iris Awards and was chosen as a Black Innovator by XFINITY Comcast. She is also a past winner of the Women’s Media Center’s Social Media Award for using her voice for pop culture critique and gender and racial justice. Her site AwesomelyLuvvie.com amassed a following particularly for Ajayi’s recaps of television shows like Scandal, drawing the attention of Scandal showrunner Shonda Rhimes.
Jessica O.Matthews (Nigerian)
A Harvard graduate, a Nigerian, a black woman, an inventor, and a CEO. Jessica was invited by President Barack Obama to the White House to represent small companies for the signing of the America Invents Act in 2012, and currently serves as an Ambassador of Entrepreneurship for Nigeria. In 2016, she was selected to ring the NASDAQ opening ceremony bell, representing all Forbes 30 Under 30 alumna. Nearly 1.2 billion people around the world lack access to reliable electricity and this issue is what her company Uncharted Play is solving. Using energy-generating play products produced by Uncharted Play, such as soccer balls and jump ropes, to produce off-grid power, people in developing countries are able to continue their day by keeping the lights on into the night. At the age of 19, Jessica invented the SOCCKET ball, an energy generating soccer ball that provides off-grid power for the developing world. At the age of 22, she founded Uncharted Play, renewable energy company specializing in motion-based, miniaturized power systems.
She has been profiled by multiple main stream media outlets such as Marie-Claire, Business Insider, Essence and more.
Yvonne Orji (Nigerian)
If you ever come across a published interview with her, there is no way you will miss seeing these words “Jesus and I roll tight”, Yvonne has no shame carrying her Faith with her in Hollywood and sharing her journey of being a Virgin as a Jesus loving christian—peculiar facts that threads through all her interviews and makes her stand out. Her wins in 2016 proves that she is a lady to keep loving in 2017. More individuals have also gotten to know and love her, with over 161k instagram views, she recently broke the internet for her dance of glee at the White House giving dance move like shoki and tagging the video with hashtags like #Becausewhynot or #canttakethisIgbogirlnowhere.
She definitely marked her territory and celebrated very well at that White House Christmas party, as she said, “I got a chance to BE an AFRICAN at the White House.” 33, Nigerian born and grew up in Maryland, Orji moved to New York City to pursue a career in comedy. Although, been working tirelessly in comedy, been part of the writers room for Love That Girl! during its first & second season, even creating her own show pilot for her semi-autobiographical sitcom, First Gen, using her experiences as a Nigerian woman and stand-up comedy routines, 2016 marked the beginning of a remarkable career stamp in Hollywood for Orji due to her ground-breaking role as Molly in HBO hit series Insecure, that stars Issa Rae. Her second time featured here on Africa’s Triumph, Yvonne has also been profiled and interviewed by multiple mainstream media platforms.
One thing for sure is that these five women really hit a stride in 2016 and made the continent proud. Lets wish them more success in 2017 and the years to come. Africa needs positive global representation and these Triumphs are most needed in these times.
Although, only five women are highlighted but you can trust that there are a whole lot of African women making waves out there. Some others include Zim Ugochukwu, Kelechi Anyadiegwu, Jacqueline Nwobu, Tiffany Aliche, Funa Maduka, Justina Omokhua , Opal Tometi and many many more!