30 Most Notable Africans of 2014: Part 2
16 Feb 2015
This next installment of the 30 Most Notable Africans of 2014 is just as inspiring as the first. Read on to see how Africans are, slowly but surely, changing the perception of what the world thinks of this vast, rich continent full of promise. Tweet about these 10 awesome movers and shakers using the hashtag #BFNA30. Enjoy!
1. Rapelang Rabana, Botswana
Born in Botswana, this daughter of an architect and an electrical engineer was raised to understand and appreciate the importance of education. What’s interesting then, is that this young entrepreneur enlisted her brother to pick her major in college when she couldn’t decide what she wanted to study. Her brother must have known something she didn’t at the time, because his decision to enroll her in the business and computer science program at the University of Cape Town formed the foundation of what has become a very successful tech career. She decided to become an entrepreneur right after she graduated in order to have more control over her destiny. By being a female pioneer in a male-dominated field, that’s exactly what she’s done.
Rabana is the founder and creator of Rekindle Learning, an innovative mobile education company based in South Africa. In addition to being named to the Oprah Magazine 2012 Power List, she has been featured on the cover of Forbes Africa and added to the magazine’s 30 under 30 of Africa’s best entrepreneurs. In her own words, she encourages young people to “Develop your mind. More than ever, there is so much to learn, so much to know, so many different things to do. The opportunities to be whoever you want to be have never been more accessible to those who pursue their dreams.”
Follow Rapelang on Twitter. Photo from LinkedIn.
2. Taofeek Okoya, Nigeria
If you’re like many parents, you want to find toys for your children which they enjoy, as well as toys they can relate to. However, that’s not always easy if you’re Black. Several years ago, Taofeek found himself at a loss when his niece asked him for a doll for her birthday and all he could find were blond hair, blue-eyed Barbie dolls in the stores in his local city of Lagos, Nigeria. Frustrated at not being able to locate one doll which reflected his niece’s features, he decided to become the solution to his dilemma—and the Queen of Africa Dolls were born.
Since launching in 2007, the dolls, which are manufactured in China and assembled in Nigeria, have garnered a huge following. In fact, the dolls are now outselling Barbie. However, convincing Nigerian consumers—adults and children alike—that his darker skinned dolls were just as good as the White dolls they were used to buying took some time. Now eight years later, Okoya employs 15 people in his factory, and has added Naija Princesses to the line of African dolls. He’s also added books and comics to extend the brand and get the message of self-acceptance and cultural celebration into schools. One young girl who loves the dolls has said, “I like [the doll] because it’s a good doll and it’s Black like me.” Okoya himself has stated,
'My mission is to make the Queens of Africa a symbol of hope, trust, and confidence by promoting African history, culture, and fashion.'
Indeed, he’s making quite an impact: the dolls are now being requested in the United States, Brazil and Europe.
3. Rahiel Tesfamariam, Eritrea
Rahiel Tesfamariam has developed a reputation as an outspoken proponent of social justice with faith-based activism as the backbone of her popular site, Urban Cusp—“a cutting-edge online lifestyle magazine highlighting progressive urban culture, faith, social change and global awareness.” Tesfamariam was no stranger to writing when she launched Urban Cusp in 2011. She began her career as the youngest editor in chief of the 50-year-old African American weekly newspaper, The Washington Informer and is a former columnist for the Washington Post. Rahiel has traveled the world on humanitarian missions and is an active public speaker on global issues, community activism and youth advocacy. Her work has been heavily influenced by her Christian faith (she has a Master of Divinity from Yale) and passion for justice. In addition to her numerous recognitions and awards, Tesfamarian was featured as one of six new Civil Rights leaders in the November 2014 issue of Essence Magazine, for her fearless commitment to advocacy and activism.
Follow Rahiel on Twitter. Photo from Rahiel.com.
Click below to read the rest of the profiles.