As has become customary for several years now, New African
publishes its annual listing of the 100 Most Influential
Africans (MIA) of 2019, as thoughts turn to the end of the year
and preparations for a brand new one to come.
The MIA listing
also provides a rapid review of some of the major events and
developments across the continent through bite-sized highlights
of achievements of individuals in various countries and in
virtually all sectors of life.
As in previous listings, and in
keeping with the UN’s International Year for People of African
Descent, we make no distinction between Africans living and
working in the continent and those in the diaspora. Both have
germinated from the African seed.
How have Africans fared in
2019 compared to previous years and in what ways have they been
most influential? There is no easy answer to this as there are
so many variables to consider and the world outside Africa
itself has been undergoing some extraordinary changes.
said, perhaps we will look back to this year as one of great
vintage. Politically, the people have asserted their rights and
in Sudan and Algeria, forced regime changes – putting leaders on
notice that they remain the masters of their fates.
large, some political leaders, as well as those running
continental institutions, put the interests of their people
ahead of their own ambitions. It did not come as a surprise that
Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed was awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
We believe our listing reflects this aspect of the continent’s
We also of course recognise the enormous but often
unsung contribution of those indefatigable souls who have
dedicated their lives to improving the lot of the ill, the marginalised, the victimised and the
Africa’s economy has had something of a roller-coaster ride – with peaks of performance countered by troughs
regression – especially in the battle against poverty.
we find champions at both ends represented in our listing.
an increasing number of what are termed ‘disrupters’ – those
that eschew traditional approaches to business and set off on
original paths – are appearing in our listings.
wonderful news as these are the pioneers who are providing new
solutions for often age-old problems.
In the world of arts,
culture and sport – the essential soft power that defines
nations – Africa has been going from strength to strength. This
is one arena where Africa and the world compete – if that is the
right word – on a level playing field.
The yardstick for
sporting prowess, whether that is in breaking athletic records,
winning world trophies or displaying exceptional skills, is
universal. So is artistic achievement in writing, acting, music,
fashion. Talent – not entrenched economic, military or political
power – is the determinant for success.
And as our listing
clearly shows, Africa is full of talent. What is more, this
talent can and does travel – whether it takes the form of acting
in huge movie blockbusters, or fronting TV shows, or winning
literary awards – African talent is rocking the world.Written
and edited by reGina Jane Jere and Anver Versi.With Omar Ben
Yedder, David Thomas, Tom Collins, Shoshana Kedem and Naomi