Ten years ago, when TIME Magazine inaugurated its list of the “100 Most Influential People in the World", the list was met with debate on the inclusion of controversial inductees and exclusion of some assiduous people in the world. In recent times, it has become an anticipated event with readers ready to gorge on glossy articles and still debate about who got in and who didn’t get in the list.
A couple of days ago, the magazine posted its 10th list of influence, the “2013 Time 100.” Fortunately, three of Africa’s hardworkers got on the list. The list is divided into various sections – Titans, Pioneers, Leaders, Icons and Artists.. Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, an actress and Mario Ballotelli, a footballer made it in the icons section along with America’s First lady Michelle Obama, Justin Timberlake, Beyonce and Kate Middleton. Whilst Joyce Banda, Malawi’s first and Africa’s second female President with leaders like Barack Obama, Pope Francis.
Here is what People had to say about the three Africans named:
Soccer star, 22
By Gianfranco Zola
Mario has all the qualities to be a top player: power and athleticism, alongside a good understanding of the game — all positive. I worked with Mario for a short period with Italy’s under-21 side. I liked him straightaway. I liked the way he handled himself and his composure and calmness in situations. Mario could shrug off things happening around him. Only the big players have that calm. Mario can play the big games and handle the crucial moments, but he needs to keep control. That is vital for him. From afar, people may think he’s a madman, but he isn’t. Mario is a lovely guy, very humble and very funny. I can assure people he has always been a pleasure to deal with. He has returned to Italy from England as the main man with lots of attention. Now he has to ensure he keeps control and keeps focus. Mario loves the pressure, but to succeed, it is about finding balance. Former Italy star Zola manages England’s Watford F.C.
Actress, singer, philanthropist, 34
By Richard Corliss
The world’s most productive English-language film industry is not Hollywood but Nollywood. The teeming Nigerian cinema grinds out some 2,500 movies a year, mostly direct-to-DVD quickies mixing melodrama, music and an evangelical Christian spin. (Think Bollywood via Tyler Perry.) Employing a million Nigerians, Nollywood enthralls millions more who come for the thrills, the uplift and the artful agitations of Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde — the Queen of Nollywood.
Called OmoSexy by her fans, she has made 300 or so features, from the 1996 Mortal Inheritance to the 2010 superproduction Ijé, shot partly on location in Los Angeles. Married to an airline pilot she wed on a flight from Lagos to Benin, Jalade-Ekeinde brings a juggler’s grace to her roles as actress, singer, reality-show star, mother of four and philanthropist (the Omotola Youth Empowerment Programme). Success hasn’t spoiled Africa’s most renowned leading lady. Rather than going Hollywood, Omotola wants to stay Nollywood. (Corliss is TIME’s movie critic)
President of Malawi, 63
By Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Joyce Banda, Malawi’s first and Africa’s second female President, could not have come onto the stage at a better time, particularly since the African Union declared 2010 to 2020 African Women’s Decade. Together, she and I can talk about the situation in Africa and what can be done by all our countries, working together in strong partnership, to build bridges and democracies and get our institutions and economies strong again. President Banda possesses the traits needed during this period of great challenges in Malawi’s, and Africa’s, history. Before her active career in politics, Joyce Banda established several nongovernmental and charitable foundations, all geared toward improving the lives of her compatriots, particularly women. Today Joyce and I have a collaborative program that focuses on improving the working conditions of market women. There have already been exchange visits between market women of our two countries. President Banda is committed to using her position to improve the lives of women across the continent, not just in Malawi. She has great strength. I am delighted that I’m not alone in Africa anymore.
(Johnson Sirleaf is the President of Liberia)