30 Most Notable Africans of 2014: Part 3
04 Mar 2015
Our third and final installment of our popular Bold & Fearless Notable Africans Series is an incredible source of inspiration, information and motivation to pursue your own dreams. Many thanks to our friends at Konnect Africa for helping to source several of these 10 great stories from Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Rwanda. And don’t forget to check out Parts One and Two of the series. Enjoy!
1. Rocky Dawuni, Ghana
Music has always been an integral part of African culture. It is used to express, educate, celebrate, activate and tell stories which are passed down for generations. Music, as the late Bob Marley showed us, is one of the highest forms of communication and a powerful tool for bringing unity. Indeed, that is what Ghanian singer, songwriter and guitarist Rocky (David) Dawuni has demonstrated throughout his 19-year career as a Reggae Afro-beat and soul artist. From his beginnings as a college sensation with his first band, Local Crisis, to his rise as a bonafide African reggae artist and social activist, Dawuni has successfully fused his love of reggae music with his West African culture to bring a sound that is uniquely his.
Why he’s inspiring: This talented musician has used his platform as a globally influential artist—he’s performed with everyone from Stevie Wonder and K’Naan, to John Legend and Janelle Monae—to speak out on issues such as clean water and sanitation, women’s issues, HIV/AIDS, and girls’ education. In recognition of his work, Dawuni was named an Ambassador of the UN Global Alliance Foundation in 2012. In March 2015, he will be releasing his sixth LP entited Branches of the Same Tree with Cumbancha records. If the rest of the songs are anything as infectious, joy-filled, and finger-snapping funky as his first release on this album, African Thriller then you better make sure to grab your copy. Dawuni’s music goes beyond the dance floor, to the intersection of social justice, activism and cultural celebration.
Check out African Thriller.
2. Leah Kalanguka, Uganda
If you were paying attention last October to what was going on in Uganda and its Diaspora, there was a major uproar over the selection of the 2014 Miss Uganda: Leah Kalanguka. Leah, a 23-year-old engineering student from Iganga District in Eastern Uganda, beat out 19 of her colleagues to claim the title of the most beautiful woman in her country. She would go on to represent Uganda at the Miss World pageant later that year. The only problem was, many of her fellow countrymen and women did not feel she was deserving of the honor. Ugandans didn’t agree with the results of the beauty contest because, well, they didn’t think Leah was beautiful. Her fervent defenders (of whom there were many) stated that her dark skin, compared to the lighter skin of some of the other contenders, may have played a role in the negativity. However, the judges were able to see that, despite her unflattering makeup, she was both gorgeous and extremely intelligent.
Why she’s inspiring: The sheer number of degrading and insulting comments that created a firestorm online was overwhelming. However, the poise with which this brilliant woman handled the backlash was a lesson for us all. In a statement she made to reporters asking about her controversial win, she said with a smile:
“I don’t think it really matters [what people think]. What matters is that I hold my head up high. Because I have the crown and I have to represent my country. I’m here for a purpose. So I will not let social media put me down.”
Although Kalanguka did not win the Miss World pageant, she is certainly still a winner in our book! We look forward to seeing what’s next for this Bold & Fearless beauty.
Follow Leah on Twitter. Photo from Twitter.
3. Kunle Adeyemi, Nigeria
If you want to know how to build a school on water, ask Kunle Adeyemi. Adeyemi is a pioneering architect who is known for his high profile projects and commitment to sustainable—but beautiful and functional—architecture. Armed with degrees from the University of Lagos and Princeton University, he started out his career at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. He successfully led major projects in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East including the Samsung Museum of Art and the Seoul National University Museum, amongst others. In 2010, he started his own firm called Nlé which means “home” in Yoruba.
Why he’s inspiring: What’s notable about this artist is his focus on rapidly growing cities in developing countries. He’s determined to provide architectural solutions that are unique to the conditions in those areas. His “African Water Cities” project was a result of doing research on climate change and its effects on the continent. The migration of individuals from rural areas to urban areas, rapidly rising waters, drought and other factors affecting developing cities were the impetus for the concept of the floating buildings. The first of these buildings in Lagos is powered completely by renewable energy. It is also completely self–sustaining and was created to be easily duplicated by the local community by using local materials. Adeyemi’s focus on social and environmental consciousness is an example more businesses of the future would do well to follow.
Click below to read the rest of the profiles.