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The New African Magazine released its list of 100 influential Africans recently. Twenty-three Nigerians, representing about a quarter, made the list, including eleven-year old Zuriel Oduwole. These twenty-three Nigerians represent the arts & culture, civil society, entertainment, sports, and media industries. Though influence is an intangible asset, and according to the New African Magazine, the metrics used to determine the measure of influence these 100 Africans possess deserving of honour is not popularity. “One yardstick we used was to emphasise that influence is not about popularity and popularity is not always influential. The influencer’s impact on public, social and political discourse, however, is what largely helps us determine their influence,” the magazine notes.

Most of these individuals are regularly featured in news magazines and on internet websites due to the nature of their profession. We present to you a vignette of ten of these honourable men and women redefining the image of Nigeria in Africa and beyond through their endeavours as profiled by New African Magazine.


1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Author – NigeriaAdichie2

Adichie is unstoppable. 2013 has been yet another good year for this daughter of Nigerian soil with two major accomplishments to file under her name: the release, to unprecedented acclaim, of her much anticipated novel Americanah and the release of the movie adaptation of her novel Half of a Yellow Sun, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton. Yes, it has been a good year, but Adichie does not look like a lady who will be slowing down in 2014. As someone who is not afraid to confront the difficult subjects of race, gender and politics, and is a proud African, who continues to campaign against the one-story narrative about Africa, we can’t wait to see what she will do next.


ATHLETICS-WORLD-2013-200M2. Blessing Okagbare, Athlete – Nigeria

After winning silver and bronze medals in the long jump and the 200 metres event at this year’s IAAF World Championships in Moscow – becoming the first Nigerian to do so, since the event began in 1983 – Okagbare is considered Nigeria’s best bet for a gold medal in track and field at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. But the 25-year-old, from Delta State, who clinched the long jump bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, only added sprinting to her career in 2009, five years after starting out as a long jumper in secondary school. Bob Kitchens, Okagbare’s head coach at the University of Texas, where she distinguished herself on the US collegiate circuit, describes her as “unique” and “the best woman’s athlete I’ve ever been around in my entire coaching career.”

3. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Actor – Nigeria/UKChiwetel Ejiofor

Chiwetel Ejiofor has the lead role in two of 2013’s biggest films – 12 Years A Slave, directed by Steve McQueen, and the film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s award-winning novel, Half of A Yellow Sun, directed by Biyi Bandele. His portrayal of former South African president Thabo Mbeki in the new Channel 4 drama Endgame was also another stellar performance. Prior to the theatre release of both films, Ejiofor won critical acclaim for his portrayal of Patrice Lumumba in A Season in The Congo, a theatre production about the first democratically elected leader of the DRCongo at The Young Vic theatre in London. Born to Nigerian parents in the UK, the award-winning actor is garnering an Oscar buzz for his mesmerising performance in 12 Years A Slave. The roles he has taken on this year prove once again what an African A-list, Oscar-deserving actor he is. Will 2014 be his year?

4. Don Jazzy, Music Producer – NigeriaDon Jazzy

One cannot talk about contemporary Nigerian music without a mention of Don Jazzy, described as Africa’s number one beat maker. Founder and CEO of Mavin Records, Michael Collins Ajereh, 31, is better known as Don Jazzy and is an award-winning record producer and singer-songwriter. Before he set up Mavin Records, he was head to Mo’ Hit Records, which at its height was home to some of Nigeria’s most successful artists, like D’Banj. He has produced hit songs for some of the biggest names in Nigeria’s music industry including; D’Banj, Tiwa Savage, Dr SID and Wande Coal.

Omotola18955. Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, Actress – Nigeria

To her global fans, Nollywood actress Omotola Jalade Ekeinde embodies true African beauty beyond measure. But there is more to the Nigerian sex bomb popular known as Omosexy. The gorgeous actress and mother of four’s meteoric rise in 2013 – a year which saw her become the first African celebrity to reach 1 million likes on Facebook, and named as one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine for their annual Time 100 list. Her debut reality show, Omotola: The Real Me, made headlines as the most popular TV series across Africa. But that was not all! It fixated her millions of fans, revealing fascinating insights into one of Africa’s most recognised faces. She is also increasingly becoming a social activist in her own right, although a vocal critic of the current African political dispensation. Despite her popularity, she has no political ambitions. Yet.

6. P Square, Musicians NigeriaP SQUARE2

Peter and Paul Okoye have defined and set a benchmark for a new generation of Nigerian and African artists to follow with their energetic and infectious sound. According to the MTV Africa Website, their music is “Afrocentric in that it combines western and African rhythms in creating a marvellous blend of R&B, Hip Hop and Dancehall songs.” Hit after hit, the twin brothers have become apt at giving audiences songs that cut across age, gender and geographical boundaries. They are arguably Nigeria’s biggest musical export in the last few years, and have collaborated with some of the world’s biggest hip-hop artists, like Akon. 


FBL-WC2014-CONFED-NGR-PRESSER7. Stephen Keshi, Football Coach – Nigeria

Keshi is the only living person in Africa to have captained his country to football’s Africa Cup of Nations title (in 1994), as well as winning it as a coach, at the 2013 finals in South Africa. Keshi is an outspoken proponent of home-grown coaching talent, (he even dedicated the Nations Cup win to “Nigerian Coaches”). He is also the only black African coach to have helped  two African countries – Togo and Nigeria – qualify for the 2006 and 2014 World Cup finals respectively.

  8. Zuriel Oduwole, Filmmaker/Activist – NigeriaZuriel Oduwole She is not even in her teens, and yet she has already made a significant impact on the global stage. Many have to wait for years to get a chance to achieve what documentary filmmaker Zuriel Elise Oduwole has in just under two years. The 11-year-old has produced two highly-acclaimed documentaries that focus on Africa’s political and developmental trajectory. She is also the brainchild of the popular Dream Up, Speak Up and Stand Up mentorship programme for the girl-child, and has already interviewed eight African heads of state, quizzing them on their leadership style. We can’t even begin to question how far this young mind’s star will travel. She will continue to shine bright in 2014.

Alex Okosi9. Alex Okosi, Media Executive – Nigeria

Credited as the man who brought MTV Base to Africa, Alex Okosi is responsible for managing the development and growth of Viacom’s multichannel entertainment portfolio that includes MTV Base, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, which spans across 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Under his leadership, the network has reached over 90 million viewers across the continent. MTV Base has made an undeniable impact on contemporary African music with its commitment to talent development, world-class audio and glossy video production values that have contributed to the appealing aesthetics of what viewers hear and see today. An advocate and supporter of initiatives that motivate, empower and educate Africa’s youth, Okosi has been the driving force behind popular shows such as Shuga,  the award-winning TV drama and multimedia campaign designed to change the sexual behaviour of African youth.

“I believe it’s a lot easier to be successful through your own voice. You don’t have to wake up in the morning and try to be someone else. You are able to use your culture and who you are to tell your story. The reality is we are telling our own stories now, in a way that’s accessible and we are not losing the meaning and we are not losing our voice.”

10. Mosunmola Abudu, TV Host – NigeriaMosunmola Abudu

Moments with Mo, a TV lifestyle talk show that has gained popularity and prominnence over the last few years, has this year spread its wings further as host Mosunmola Abudu, better known as Mo, launched her own TV channel – EbonyLife TV. It has been received with high acclaim and is expected to do even better in 2014. Moments with Mo was the first syndicated daily talk show on African regional television, broadvcasting in 48 countries. Mo has hosted some of the most famous faces from both Africa and internationally. One such international figure is former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

“If you can think it…you can do it.”

All profiles of individuals featured here as well as photographs are sourced from New African Magazine.

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This article was first published on 2nd December 2013

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