On Thursday, Time Magazine placed seven Africans on their list of “100 Most Influential People,” including novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Boko Haram terrorist leader Abubaker Shekau, Sudanese aid worker Mustafa Hassan, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, Nigerian President-Elect Muhammadu Buhari, Liberian Dr. Jerry Brown, and #BringBackOurGirls campaigner Obiageli Ezekwesi.
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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
At just 37 years old, best-selling, award-winning novelist Adichie is described as “the rare novelist who in the space of a year finds her words sampled by Beyoncé, optioned by Lupita Nyong’o and honored with the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. But the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is just that sort of novelist.”
Adichie burst on to the scene after presenting her much-heralded Ted Talk “We Should All Be Feminists.”
Watch her Ted Talk here:
The talk publicly expanded her persona into a cultural critic with bitingly insightful perspectives.
And her work, “Purple Hibiscus” (2003), “Half of a Yellow Sun” (2007), and the wildly popular “Americanah” (2013) speaks for itself.
Time adds, “…Her greatest power is as a creator of characters who struggle profoundly to understand their place in the world.”
If the aforementioned Adichie is one of the many pearls of Nigeria, Islamic terrorist Shekau stands in stark contrast as “the scourge of Africa.”
Bursting on to the scene in 2009, Shekau has turned his originally ragtag organization into a foreboding force; he is responsible for killing more than 10,000 people and will forever live in infamy for abducting nearly 300 female students a year ago this week.
Time writes, “Most Americans do not yet recognize his name, but the citizens of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, know Abubakar Shekau all too well: he is the most violent killer their country has ever seen.”
When Ebola first hit Guinea last March, many didn’t pay attention to the deadly virus. However, in just weeks, the disease would spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia — with unsavory appearances in Nigeria, Senegal, the United States, Spain, Britain, Norway, France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands — infecting nearly 26,000 and killing nearly 11,000.
While there was much panic and confusion as the infection rates surpassed initial expectations, Brown decided to do what he does best by training and healing victims.
Actor Idris Elba writes of Brown for Time Magazine, “He took action and stopped people from dying of Ebola. Through his work as medical director of the Eternal Love Winning Africa Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, and in the face of skepticism and misunderstanding, he trained, taught, and treated waves of people who came to his hospital. … It is because of this man’s actions — rather than his words — that many lives were saved.”
Last year will undoubtedly go down as one of Nigeria’s worst. Headline after headline spoke to Boko Haram’s incessant terror — with many losing sleep for weeks at the eight cases
of Ebola brought in by now-deceased Liberian Patrick Sawyer.
President Goodluck Jonathan was widely criticized both stateside and internationally for a lackluster response to Boko Haram.
Therefore, when it came time for presidential elections last month, it wasn’t entirely a surprise that #NigeriaDecided on opposition leader and former military general Muhammadu Buhari, who took control of Nigeria as a dictator back in 1983.
Many Nigerians see Buhari as the dawning of a new day in their nation.
But Buhari won’t be starting his term without a full plate.
Time explains, “From battling the Boko Haram insurgency to tackling endemic corruption, Buhari has many challenges ahead.”
Since the Syrian Civil War began in the spring of 2011, about 220,000 people have died. Of those deaths, more than 11,000 are attributed to children.
Sudanese-born Hassan, who is also known for his service during the crisis in Darfur, is a child-protection manager for the International Rescue Committee.
Because of his work, war-affected children aren’t allowed to fall through the cracks.
Time writes, “Thousands of Syrian children have arrived at the Za‘atari and Azraq refugee camps alone, separated from their families, not knowing whether their parents are alive or dead. Then they meet Mustafa.
“With a team of 50 he does the meticulous detective work needed to reunite children with their families or connect them with foster families.
“Working tirelessly, below the radar, in some of the toughest conditions in the world, Mustafa and people like him restore our faith in humanity. Truly he is a hero, making the world better one life at a time.”
Beji Caid Esebsi
With Tunisia’s first president, Habib Bourguiba, leading the North African nation for three decades and the nation’s second president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, holding on to power for 24 years, newly elected President Esebsi brings a sizable amount of excitement and promise.
Since former President Ali was forced to step down in 2011, prompting the region’s Arab Spring, President Esebsi is the nation’s first freely elected head of state.
Time adds, “The election in December of Beji Caid Essebsi, leader of the secular Nidaa Tounes party, was a watershed moment. His victory marked Tunisia’s first free presidential election.”
But after a terrorist assault on Bardo National Museum in March, which killed 21 people, many are looking to see whether the new leader can steer his people past the violence and uncertainty of terrorism.
Even though Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan infamously denied the abduction of the Chibok girls last April and has ultimately failed to get them back, former Minister of Education Obiageli Ezekwesil hasn’t allowed the issue to die down.
Ezekwesil has been an ardent advocate of the #BringBackOurGirls’ campaign and has tirelessly used her platform to promote it.
Time writes, “It has been a year, and the girls haven’t been rescued, but she has made a difference by speaking about it. Not just speaking but shouting. I know some people will say she is too loudmouthed. The loud mouth is needed. People hear it.”