The Future Awards Africa Prize for Acting
Samuel Ajibola (30)
Nollywood is an unforgiving place for actors. It is even worse for child actors, who struggle to find roles that provide nuance and truly challenge the ability of the child actor to understand and interpret complex emotions so convincingly on screen, the audience is lulled into belief. Meaty roles are few and far between and the child actors of the 90’s were lauded for their talent but never really rewarded. But the real struggle is the transition from child star to adult Nollywood actor. Very few actors have been able to make the transition, let alone become so successful that they are nominated for and eventually win an Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards, a pan African celebration of talent chosen from, and voted by the entire continent. Samuel Ajibola is that rare anomaly, and he has gotten here by working harder than anyone could have expected of him.
Ajibola first got his big break in film in the Opa Williams directed “Tears for love” after being scouted by an aunt during a church play at the age of 6. After a couple of years and three consecutive years winning the Best Young Actor Award at the AMAA’s, he took a hiatus from acting in 2003, focusing instead on other things before he returned to the big screen in 2009. He then segued into television “Spiff” in the Africa Magic television series The Johnsons and the critically acclaimed Shuga. Ajibola won a best actor in a comedy series nod for his work on the Johnsons and used that recognition to launch his own comedy series, Dele Issues. If only all child actors had a career as inspired as Samuel Ajibola’s.
Sambasa Nzeribe (29)
Grass to grace aptly summarizes the story of multi-talented actor, Chiedozie Sambasa Nzeribe. So daunting were the circumstances of his upbringing and the struggle that he underwent to overcome them that he created an acronym that encompasses his philosophy and approach to life; SAMBASA, Surviving and Maintaining Balance Against Societal Aggression. Sambasa modeled and worked in entertainment while he studied Creative arts at the University of Lagos before he finally transitioned full time into acting. He made his debut in the Multiple Award Winning Movie ‘A Mile from Home’ produced and directed by Eric Aghimien, where he played the role of ‘SUKU’ the leader of a notorious gang. The success of the movie coupled with determination and encouragements from friends spurred him on to go further.
And just within a space of four years from his debut in 2013 as a rookie to date, Sambasa has featured in about 10 Nollywood movies, including: A Soldier’s Story; Road to Stardom; and Ojuju; all award-winning movies. Nzeribe has consistently chosen films that challenge his craft as an actor over the quick fare that characterize much of Nollywood and the acclaim he has received in return suggests that these labours have been investments that paid off. He was also featured in Nigeria’s biggest film thus far, The Wedding Party, by Mo Abudu. In 2016, he won the Best Supporting Actor AMVCA 2016; also winning Best Supporting Actor Nigeria Entertainment Award 2016 in New York, and in 2017 the prestigious AMVCA in the Best Actor Drama Movie/Series for his role in “Slow Country”. He has also had a busy year, playing a major villain in 2014 magical realism gamble ‘Tatu’ and alongside Uru Eke and Wole Ojo in action flick, “No Way Out”.
Nzeribe proves that there is more to the villain that caricatured acting, he brings nuance and character to his work and we are all better for it.
Akah Nnani (29)
It is funny and somewhat ironic that Akah Nnani’s most instantly recognizable viral moment was an unplanned one, in a car with a friend and a simple but unforgettable reaction. This ability to draw out reactions from his audience; adoration, repulsion, interest or ire is what has kept Akah Nnani’s Youtube channel and his sojourns into film and television intriguing. Nnani is part of a new generation of actors who first found some level of fame via social media, before transplanting that fame into a viable and successful career.
Able to shift between big screen and small (he just made his big budget debut on Ebony Life’s the Royal Hibiscus Hotel) and comfortable in front of a screen as he is behind a radio microphone, Nnani is working his way into the collective consciousness of African viewers and listeners and selling them that elevator pitch about his undeniable talent and his potential one of Africa’s sweethearts. He has created shows like “The Shade Corner”, worked with some of the biggest names in Nigerian cinema in a few short years and become a movie star hearthrob. We are impressed.
Akah Nnani’s talent is not just limited to TV and new media, but has been in theatre productions. He was one of the major characters in ‘Heartbeat The Musical’ which was described as the best Nigerian theatre production of 2016. Work done in period under consideration are but not limited to Isoken (Tribe 85 Productions), Banana Island Ghost (Bamnesia Productions), Industreet (Scene One Productions) & Shift Lemme Faint (Gbagyichild Entertainment)
Ini-Idima Okojie (27)
It is almost unfathomable to think that actress Ini-Dima Okojie got her big break, playing an annoying but indefatigable villainess on the hit webseries, “Skinny Girl in Transit”. It was a role it seemed Dima-Okojie was destined to play, and her star making turn saw her quickly cast as the lead in the Ebony Life TV Series “On The Real” and a film debut “It’s Her Day”. Since then, Dima-Okojie has become a staple on television, Youtube and Film, scoring role after role, subverting the often shallow characterization which plagues traditional Nollywood and gaining a huge following along the way.
But this success didn’t just fall into her lap. Ini Dima-Okojie took the biggest gamble of her life when she quit her job as an investment banker in 2014 to pursue acting. She enrolled in the New York Film Academy and powered through a crash course on acting and film making. Along the way, Dima-Okojie began to rebrand herself, shedding the pensive investment banker facade and emerging a bonafide actress, unafraid of taking centre stage on and off the stage. Dima-Okojie’s ability to turn heads and work a crowd is only rivaled by her ability to immerse herself in the complex characters she is called on to play. It already working for her; she was cast in the new EbonyLife big budget flick “The Royal Hibiscus Hotel” and has the eye of the Toronto International Film Festival as well as the folks at the Relativity Workshop in Los Angeles who invited her for their coveted workshop. But the success she has already seen seems only a precursor to the true heights of excellence she is capable of reaching. It is worth breaking out the popcorn for.
Bidemi Kosoko (32)
Bidemi Kosoko is a Nollywood actress known for her amazing roles in Yoruba movies, Aina Baseje and more.
In 2017 she featured in the soap ‘Professor JohnBull’ which airs on the Nigeria’s Network Station, NTA. As a second generation actress from a family of actors and actresses, Bidemi Kosoko has always had a whole constellation of stars to match and surpass. The daughter of veteran actor Jide Kosoko, it seemed almost destined that Bidemi would follow in her father’s path and continue his legacy of bringing to life, complex characters who are relatable and ultimately fallible. That kind of pressure would be enough to drive most people into other professions but Kosoko has thrived, making a name for herself in Nollywood and practically dominating the Yoruba film industry.
Kosoko is only really coming into her own in the sub-genre, but she has already managed to distinguish herself from her famous family and force her audience and contemporaries to respect her craft and engage in her own right as an artist and creator. And what else can a creator ask for, other than for their work, not their pedigree or connections speak for them.
The Future Awards Africa Prize for Fashion and Design
Joseph O. Ike and Ola Akindehinde (JZO Fashion) (31/26)
At the 2017 Heineken Lagos Fashion and Design Week, a handful of design labels made their official debuts. One of them was JZO, a menswear brand run by Joseph O. Ike and Ola Akindehinde. It was a homecoming of sorts and a milestone for the duo, who had previously said they had no interest in joining the fashion cycle and creating in line with traditional trends. This is not to say that JZO is traditional in any way. The brand is run from Kaduna state, far away from the country’s fashion capital and has somehow managed to infiltrate its heart, dressing some of the country’s most respected fashion icons like D’Banj, Dare Art Alade, Tiwa Savage, Denola Grey, Bella Adeleke and Waje, all the while unwavering from its commitment to providing high quality, affordable fashion.
Ike and Akindehinde’s dedication to changing how fashion is done in Nigeria led them in 2014 to establish a manufacturing plant alongside their label. Their manufacturing arm has become a godsend for designers looking to produce for mass market audiences within the country. They were also one of the first to question (rightfully so) the wisdom in following the western calendar when the internet has globalized fashion sufficiently enough that calendars only matter for financial purposes. JZO has also expanded to cater for the needs of women with Zii Studios, a women’s wear diffusion line which the duo is tweaking as they go along. The endgame for JZO is the entire domination of the fashion industry, but it seems Joseph Ike and Ola Akindehinde are continent to explore and expand for now.
Bisola ‘Ladybiba’ Adeniyi (25)
A teddy bear was the first to have the honour of wearing an original Lady Biba piece and inspiring an 8 year old with her very first Barbie Doll to consider fashion design as an option for a life career and an avenue for excellence. As a second generation designer introduced to the art by an Aunt, Lady Biba first of all started making clothes to fill a niche; the struggle to find work appropriate clothing that also flatters the silhouette of the weather while impressing her counterparts.
Working in fashion as a fashion writer provided that much needed plumb to remind the team behind Lady Biba that fashion is merely a tool in the hands of the wielder and an ungainly dress fits just as badly as an ungainly sword. She has taken that mental note, her adjacent fashion related knowledge and her perseverance and shaken them up into a cocktail of success, and a brand that is basically scripture among young working women.
Muktar Onifade (26)
Fashion can be an incredibly terrifying place. There are so many external pressures that weigh on the creativity of a fashion designer, so many external needs that draw at the designer’s time and energy, constraining their ability to create and innovate and ultimately reducing the quality of their work to the simple dual question of whether a potential customer would count their coins and pay. But when those are not worries that as a creator you need conventionally worry yourself, fashion becomes this truly exhilirating medium of artistic expression. Mukhtar Onifade, the creative brains behind VIZUVLGVDS, it seems, takes this maxim to heart and allows it guide his creative decision making process.
Onifade created VISUVLGVDS, fashion brand that has a primary focus on contemporary African art. Onifade has removed himself from the fashion cycle, creating only when the spirit moves and releasing only work he is entire proud of. This is why in the 12 traditional fashion that have elapsed since Onifade started his collection, he has only made three collections. Hand produced in Lagos and Detroit, personally supervised, Onifade’s wearable art is the very definition of our Afro-futurist fute.
Olivia & Sylvia ‘Gozel Green’ Enekwe (31)
Sylvia and Olivia Enekwe are second generation fashion designers whose work has been inspired by their father, a theatre arts professor at the University of Nigeria Nsukka and their mother, a designer and graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology New York. Through the 2014 L.F.D.W. fashion incubator programme, the Fashion Focus series, Gozel Green was chosen as , as well as the opportunity to study under ethical fashion brand Edun and a retail/mentorship program with luxury retailer Grey Velvet.
The duo have really created a complex narrative around the way they build their collections; drawing inspiration from their private lives and weaving a lure for their target audience through story telling (Broken pots and other stories, Road to Kilimanjaro) and an embrace of the aspects of design that others overlook like reintroducing threads discarded during the sewing process as embroidery, spinning simple ideas into something unique without losing the details that define their work as African earns them the respect of even the most hesitant critics. Building on the success of their 2015 ready to wear collection (worn by Omoyemi Akerele, founder of LFDW and celebrities Omotola Ekeinde and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; they have partnered with fashion retailer Zazaii, run by former LFDW alumni, Isoken Ogiemwonyi, stylist and owner of fashion store Zinkata, Ezinne Zinkata and luxury retailer, Grey Velvet.
Paolo Sisiano (29)
It is always easy to tell when a dancer becomes a designer. There is a preoccupation with movement, an obsession almost with cutting clothes in such a way that they are always complementary to the wearer’s form, always augmenting their movements with a an extra flourish of fabric or a cheeky drape. Ultimately there is the need to ensure that while the clothes maintain maximal mobility they also are cut in such a way the effort that goes into ensuring the clothes move easy is never obvious. These are the design aesthetics that guide Paolo Sisiano, the creative director behind Nigerian unisex brand Sisiano. Sisiano has become of those few Nigerian brands that are almost universally loved by Nigerian women, bought without hesitation and worn with love.
Sisiano first gained mainstream success when he was invited to join the Lagos Fashion and Design Week incubator programme, Fashion Focus. He didn’t win the competition in his year but he was instantly a fashion week phenomenon, a sentiment that about half a decade in, hasn’t waned. To see Sisiano cut menswear is a thing of beauty and we are all truly lucky to have witnessed such a designer in our time. His work as an in-demand theatre actor and dancer continues to inspire his work as a designer, proving that arts and fashion can intersect seamlessly in the hands of the right person.
The Future Awards Africa Prize for Beauty
Grace Chinonso Okoli (24)
Grace Chinonso Okoli certainly deserves this, considering how hard she has worked in short 24 years to become this impassioned business woman, a decision that began in part, because of the terrible lack of employment opportunities for young graduating Nigerians.
Stranded in 2015 after completing her university clearance certification and National Youth Service Corp posting, Okoli struggled to find any businesses looking for an entry level microbiologist. But Okoli already had a handful of small gigs through which she rounded, looking for something that would ‘fit’. She found it in the new media beauty industry and she began to create content specifically for the audience that were being brought to her page. They all had one unanimous complaint; they couldn’t seem to find organic beauty products and were afraid of social media purchases. Okoli decided then to go into the industry herself, founding Shanyi Organics in 2016 and began to convert her audience and social media following into a bonafide client base. A year later, Shanyi Organics is fully established and already winning awards, and Okoli is already on to her next endeavour.
Grace Chinomso Okoli, fondly called Shanyi, is a 24 year old passionate African woman.
Ifeyinwa Ojekwe (27)
It is hard not go through life as a Nigerian, convinced that the world is trying to kill you. There is an urgency to life as a Nigerian, a dearth of even the most basic needs and an acceptance of things we have no right accepting, that we tend to go through life in a state of pre-acceptance of fate. But often we have an event occur that jars us out of our sleepwalking and pushes us to reorient ourselves and take an active role in how our lives are led. For Ifenyinwa Ojekwe, this jolt came in form of a health scare in 2012 that made her consider what she was putting on and in her body. It took a year for Ojekwe to pivot towards a healthier lifestyle, but by the time she was done, she realised this wasn’t something she wanted to hoard, so she started Ajali, a natural skincare line.
Keeping the production process as natural as possible is Ajali’s by-line, supporting local businesses and farming collectives another. By taking out chemical shortcuts and automation, Ajali returns some of the autonomy back to the itinerant farmers for whom many of the Ajali natural skincare products have become a lifeline. Beauty that is effective, pure and ethically sound is possible, and Ifenyinwa is dedicated to spreading this gospel.
Jennifer Uloko (27)
Anyone in the industry knows that you cannot really talk about the rise of the Nigerian beauty industry without really delving into the phenomenon of mobile internet in Nigeria. Prior to the introduction of Nigerian beauty brands like Sleek Beauty and House of Tara, beauty was a largely inaccessible craft, and trends were drawn from television and professional looking make up was expensive. The internet brought with it Youtube and Youtube brought life saving tutorials that demystified beauty trends and made more Nigerians willing to shop for products. But accessing the products was a problem few people knew how to solve. That is until beauty e-tailers like Jennifer Uloko stepped up.
Uloko graduated from Igbinedion University in 2011, with a degree in business management, so it was always a given that she would make something of herself in business. However the beauty industry explosion allowed her combine her interest in beauty products with technology and a vast network of beauty retailers in Nigeria and beyond. Since she started Yangabeauty in 2014, it has grown to become one of the premier beauty retailers, connecting beauty enthusiasts with their favorite products and proving that there is no passion that cannot be flipped into a profitable empire.
Adetola Anita ‘Brows’ Adetoye (26)
One of the few industries that primarily serve women still dominated by women in Nigeria is the beauty and make up industry. Perhaps this might be the result of traditional gender roles preventing men from fully invading this space, or more realistically, it has remained so because of the innovation and persistence of the women have carved out a niche for themselves in the highly competitive world of professional beauty. At the very apex of this pyramid are women like Anita A. Adetoye. Adetoye was one of the first beauty entrepreneurs to use personal branding as a way to distinguish themselves from the bandwagon and truly create a brand that is both interesting and respected in Nigeria and abroad.
Adetoye first started dabbling with beauty while she was in secondary school, and has always been involved in the makeup industry in some capacity since she was a teenager. Her time studying journalism in the University of Belfast and Media production at the Lewisham college provided her insight that she turned to her true passion, beauty. She was one of the first Nigerian beauty entrepreneur to properly harness the power of social media, turning to then new image sharing platform Instagram, to build a following. She was one of the first Nigerian beauty entrepreneurs to champion a ‘signature’ style; her cutting edge approach to make up, specifically the often hard to pin-down on-trend brow, earned her the name Anita Brows and made her the go-to beauty expert for celebrities like Annie Idibia, Vimbai Muthinri and Stephanie Coker.
Sought after in Nigeria and the UK, Anita Brows has become a household name.
Vanessa Onwughalu (25)
When singer and beauty entrepreneur Rihanna released her much awaited beauty line, Fenty Beauty, there was a singular sentiment that spread across the world, the collective joy of extremely dark-skinned and bone white albino women finally finding a shade of foundation that matched their skins. It seems such a trivial thing to weep about in a beauty store in front of several hundred other women, but this best illustrates the power of representation in an industry that has been skewered by centuries of racism to elevate Caucasian features as the standard for beauty. Countering this sentiment was why Vanessa Onwughalu went into the beauty industry and why she created Taos cosmetics.
Onwughalu, like many Nigerian women had struggled to find beauty products that worked for her in Nigeria. When she did find the products she wanted, they were rarely in the right shade or as readily accessible as she would have wanted. So she took matters into her own hands and created her own make up line after three years of research and development in the UK. Taos cosmetics has become a favourite of beauty enthusiasts across the country and a reliable alternative to international beauty brands.
The Future Awards Africa Prize for Music
Adekunle ‘Gold’ Kosoko (30)
This December, Adekunle Kosoko will join his band the 79th Element and give his first proper concert in Lagos, the city that first embraced him and his unconventional yet instantly recognizable sound. Adekunle Kosoko’s music under the stage name Adekunle Gold has become one of the country’s biggest alternative success stories, joining the stratospheric ranks of artists like Brymo and Asa, who decided in spite of incredible pressure to make music that personally relates to them without compromising any values. Before Adekunle Gold settled on music, he was already beginning to make a name for himself as a multi-disciplinary artist, working in digital media and concrete sculptures. He began to write music properly in the early 2010’s and went viral in 2014 when he refixed a One Direction song. Overtaken by the success of his experimental single, Gold remastered the cover, renamed it “Sade” and kickstarted a career that quickly went global.
As Adekunle Gold got more popular, getting nominated for and winning several awards including best “Alternative song” at the 2015 Headies. Following that success, Gold seemed to have a creative crisis, ditching the electronic setup that the majority of musicians use. He put out word and compiled himself a band and dedicated himself to creating music that resonates with or without electronic accoutrements. The singles from Gold’s second era suggest that he made the right decision because his music has inadvertently become the alt-music movement for Nigerians who value individuality but not at the expense of our African heritage.
David ‘Davido’ Adeleke (25)
In Nigeria, there is the general convention that a person’s success is directly related to the privilege his family affords him. This convention can become a stumbling block for young people born into affluence and often forces them to abandon their own dreams and ambitions. This is why David Adedeji Adeleke’s career as afro-pop singer Davido is especially important. David Adeleke has confounded even the most unbelieving of critics and pundits who have criticized his talent and his drive and become one of Nigeria’s biggest pop sensations. He has become the poster boy for hardwork, the mascot for the young affluent Nigerian who has chosen, in spite of all the back talk and nay-saying to hew themselves a place in the stars.
Hardwork is the central theme of Davido’s success story. As a teenager sent to the US to earn a degree and graft himself into his father’s thriving business empire, Davido rebelled, dropping out of college and living off the grid while he found his feet as a musician. When he returned to Nigeria in 2012 after a few years of sojourning, he came with the singular purpose of proving to his father that he’d chosen the right path for himself. His first album “Omo Baba Olowo” quickly gained mainstream success and marked a significant turn in his career. In 2016, he became one of the new crop of Nigerian born musicians to sign lucrative record deals with international music labels. Never one to be guided by fear, Davido cut ties with his label after a year and returned to Nigeria to rediscover his sound and audience in his old stomping grounds. His single “IF” catapulted him to realms of fame that no one thought possible and brought the international recognition he’d rejected the year before, but this time on this own terms.
Anidugbe Oluwatobiloba ’Kiss Daniel’ Daniel (23)
Daniel Anidugbe started 2017 with something to prove. While he had been in the spotlight for most of 2016 thanks to his stellar debut album ‘New Era’ that included hit songs like “Woju”, “Laye” and “Mama” and transformed him from hustling graduated from the Federal University of Technology Akure, to a continental star, was also extremely dogged with questions, some personal, most professional and none any less troubling. Many people had dismissed Daniel as a fluke, a one hit wonder that managed to slip into a sound that worked excellently well but was only worth milking for one album. The bets were places and hedged and the industry insiders sat to watch what would become of the wunderkind.
Well what do you know, Kiss Daniel didn’t come to play. In 2017 he scaled back from the excessive social media updates and went back into the studio to record a project that we hope will be that elusive sophomore single. After a false start (Sofa), Daniel dropped the chameleonic ‘Yeba’ that first confused and then delighted the vast majority of his audience. Yeba is the first wave for a new round of promotion for a new project, even though the singer has been booked all year, and bringing in good money. Kiss Daniel makes our list because he is an artist who has excelled in his genre, with music that is decidedly his but also interested turning his talent into a viable business source. And who could hate on that?
Austin Miles ‘Teckno’ Kelechi (24)
When Austin Miles Kelechi signed his record deal with Made Men Music group in 2013, it was the culmination of a series of events that had begun in 2012 at event where he was discovered by none other than Julius Agwu for his interesting take on viral hit “Oleku”. But Tekno had much more than quirky covers of hit songs to offer as the world was soon to find out. The world would find out that Tekno had begun producing music nearly a decade before, becoming proficient on the piano, drums and guitar and developing a knack for writing music that is virtually impossible to ignore. Tekno had enjoyed moderate success as a producer, but his career didn’t really take off till he stepped out from behind the leveller and into the booth.
Tekno began to craft sonic hits like Duro and Pana, arguably the biggest dance hits of 2015 and 2016. Tekno’s songs spin pop culture references faster than internet memes and his infectious brand of afrobeats has seen him catapulted to stratospheric success in two short years. Pana is so popular, it was the most played song on Nigerian radio for fifteen straight weeks. Mind boggling stuff, we know. Well, the world knows too, because in addition to a weird nomination for ‘Next Rated’ artist at the Headies and a win for ‘Best Breakthrough Artist’ at the 2016 MTV MAMA’s, Tekno joined heavy weights Davido and Wizkid in signing recording and publishing deals with global music giant Sony ATV.
Simisola ‘Simi’ Bolatito Ogunleye (29)
No one has been quite as inspiring for young women looking to break into music this year in her own quirky way than Simisola Ogunleye, known to you as Simi. Her brand is unconventional, a spunky digital media presence, self-curated and filled with suggested romantic triangles and liaisons and a sound that has grown consistently introspective as Simi has transitioned from relatively unknown producer to recording artist in her own right. But what is so fascinating about Simi isn’t her great voice or her superior production skills (she produced the critically received Adekunle Gold eponymous debut album), it’s the fact that Simi is Nigeria’s first organic GarageBand artist to go mainstream.
Simi released her sophomore album “Simisola” in late 2017 to critical acclaim after years to tweaking her sound to suit her new persona as an independent artist straddling the lines between pop and deeply introspective song writing. It is incredibly hard to write an album that appeals to people of several age demographics but Simi manages just that with her album. She was recently awarded the Songwriter of the year award at the 2017 Afrimma awards.
The Future Awards Africa Prize for Professional Service
Ibijoke faborode (27)
One can only imagine what it must have felt like for 27 year old Ibijoke Faborode to lead a delegation of Nigerian diplomats that included the Nigerian minister for Agriculture Audu Ogbeh, the governors of Ebonyi, Oyo, Kaduna and Kano states, and the deputy governors of Ogun and Benue states to a bilateral trade and investment mission with the United Kingdom. We might not know but we can surmise it felt like validation and a shattering, if you will, of glass ceilings. But this is nothing new to Ms. Faborode, she is well versed in the practice of shattering glass ceilings.
As the current head of the West African department for Agriculture, Healthcare and ICT at the British High Commission department for International trade, she joins an elite rank of Nigerian women who have held positions of influence in the British High Commission, facilitating trade between the countries and improving agricultural co-operation and bilateral trade. With several masters degrees and a portfolio of volunteer work with the United Nations Development Project and Jeune Afrique, Faborode does it all and still finds time to give back to her community and the world at large.
O’tega Ogra (30)
When O’Tega Ogra began the process of helping Nigerian banking giant transition into a 21st century brand identity in line with advents in digital media he was only 24. That seems impressive until you factor in that Ogra was working with Guaranty Trust Bank as well at the time, and was the youngest head of corporate communications ever to rise through the ranks to that office. In the intervening years since then, he has switched industries, doing a stint at GIZ, the German agency for International development where he advocated for healthcare and education interventions for women and children in disadvantaged communities before returning to corportate management and moving to running the corporate communications department at BUA Group, one of the continent’s most prosperous industrial conglomerates.
Under Ogra’s seasoned direction, the BUA Group has gone from obscure industrial multinational to one of the country’s most recognizable brand thanks to strong branding and consistent innovation while constantly advocating for continuing community service.
Fiyin Williams (29)
Fiyin Williams portfolio as marketing manager reads like a dream. In seven short years, Williams has racked up an impressive partnership with several of the world’s most valuable brands including the World Health Organization, MTN, Etisalat, Phillips, The Silverbird Group, Diageo and Coca-Cola to name a few. Williams’ sojourns in the world of corporate management has imbued her with seven years of experience in marketing and PR, HR and recruitment across the different sectors and knowledge in the fields of Voice and Data protocols, Lotteries and Betting channels, Wellness and nutrition. Currently working at GlaxoSmithKline, Williams’ current job description including helping manage five brands that span the wellness/nutrition spectrum.
Williams’ excellent track record as a manager, an employee and a strategist has allowed him/her amass such responsibility. Williams rises to every challenge with a hunger to learn and assimilate and conquer, it is that spirit that we want to celebrate with this nomination.
Olamide Bada (27)
When Olamide Bada was invited to take over managing Rocket Nigeria’s ecosystem of startup, she only had a marginal understanding of what it means to do business in Nigeria. With practically no viable economic framework for entrepreneurs in the country and on the continent, the Rocket Nigeria of clusters of general items, hospitality and food have become a thriving ecosystem for young entrepreneurs looking to make a way for themselves in industry. And much of this new wave of Jumia Food related competence is the direct (and indirect) can be attributed to Bada’s actions and policies.
After qualifying as a British solicitor specializing in industry law across several platforms she set about the task of helming the consolidation of startup businesses in Nigeria. Under her, Hellofood was bought and consolidated food retailer, Hello Food, and ensured the brand grew a vibrant digital audience while improving on service and delivery times. She also ensured the brand worked well with its vendors, improving service and commissions and building strong interpersonal relationships between the brand and its vendors. Bada also helped plan and organize the Jumia’s 2015 Black Friday giveaway, setting the tone for future Black friday events. Her superb handling of the situation earned her strong praise and proved Bada can hold her own in stressful situations.
As she expands her reach and converts Jumia Food into a world class vendor service, we will be rooting from the side-lines, flags at the ready.
Mohammed Sani Madugu (21)
Flying, they say, is all about passion. Most pilots and aviators around the world find themselves flying in pursuit of a burning desire difficult to stop, despite the challenges in enrolling in flying schools. It was this passion that drove Mohammed Sani Sani Madugu to choose to become a pilot. S.S Madugu (as he is known) is probably one of the youngest pilots currently active in the Nigerian aviation industry. His interest in aviation began when he was seven years old, and his first proper memory of flying in an aeroplane during the annual Sallah festivities. He says he had always flown but that particular trip, he was invited to come and see the airplane’s cockpit. The sheer complexity of the airplane’s instrument cockpit awed him and he resolved to find a way to understand all of it.
That way, it turns out was flight school. He had to complete a conventional education, including a stint at the Brunel University in England studying Aviation Engineering with Pilot Study. But while he did this, he also rigorously went about earning all the necessary qualifications to fly. He got his first qualification at age 17, and continued to juggle formal education with the challenges of earning flying hours. Eventually he earned all his prerequisites on February 10, 2016. While studying in America and London, he had the opportunity of flying the Cessna 152, C152; Cessna 172; Diamond DA42, a multi-engine aircraft. Madugu joined Azman Airline, an indigenous airline based in Kano, and flies with them regularly, ferrying the next generation of wide eyed children awed by the wonder of metal birds in the sky.
The Future Awards Africa Prize for Business
Toyin Onigbanjo (29)
There is something primal about having your first child. The mere act of conception signals an irreversible change, the first slat in a domino effect that continues to ripple through the rest of your life. When Oluwatoyin Onigbanjo found out she was having a child in 2014, she prepared as best any first time parent can; with the best of intentions and never enough information. When her child came, she found out he was prone to specificities and was unmoving about the things he desired. Especially when it came to food. Onigbanjo wanted to raise a healthy child, but she was blessed instead with one who rejected all the conventional options for children. She began to experiment, crafting her own creative menus as a way to entice her son into eating, and started to share what she learned via social media when she began to get feedback from other mothers overwhelmed by their own picky children.
With the enthusiastic support of her 49,000 followers on Instagram and 12,000 mothers and supporters on Facebook, Onigbanjo entered the Samsung Food Art Contest in 2016, coming second place. She took that as a sign, and set a small factory where she creates 5 unique baby food recipes, distributed along 23 channels across 20 Nigerian cities, Ghana, the UK and the US. She has enjoyed unprecedented success, earning a gross revenue of $120,000 in her first year.
Osemwengie Victor Odion (30)
Odion has always believed that a diversification of enterprise is necessary to help Nigeria break out of the industrial rut in which it finds itself and believes that the only way to force this change is to allow resident citizens invest in industry. To this end he helped create the Edo shoe Manufacturing Company in 2013, an indigenous footwear design Manufacturing Company based in Edo state Nigeria.
Currently, we produce all our shoes, sandals with the help of our industrial machines and hand made. Edo shoes production capacity monthly is 17,500 pairs with a current staff strength of 26.
Production these sandals are on high demand which warrants the engagement of other local companies with Edo states so as to meet up with clients demands. Odion started his Business with a loan of N200,000 which was a gotten from the Edo State Ministry of Commerce and Industry under the Graduate Entrepreneurship Scheme.
In 2016, a profit of 2,062,900 was made and an estimated revenue for 2017 is 5,000,000.
Nnamdi Stan – Ekeh (24)
Enterprise is in the fabric of our identity as Nigerians. Whether small scale or large, we gravitate towards the challenge of creating something that is entirely ours, we live for the thrill of watching it grow and succeed, especially in the unforgiving economic climate of Nigeria. We all manage some level of success but few ever manage to cover as much ground and gain such wide spread acceptance as Nnamdi Stan-Ekeh has in the two short years he spent at the helm of retail startup Yudala.
When Stan-Ekeh approached his father with his idea to build a retail start-up that harnessed the power of the internet, the enterprise of Nigerian workers and the business savvy of his family, it seemed a trifle impetuous. After all the Nigerian start-up community was already beginning to experience its first wave of digital failures, with a steady stream of companies falling under the axe. Stan-Ekeh was persistent and his family invested into his idea with a loan. They needn’t have worried because his small idea has expanded into Yudala, an online retail market that began in electronics and gadgetry and spread to goods, consumables, winery and staples. Stan-Ekeh was able to build a policy of trust through excellent customer service, real time delivery and reliable support. With 300 employed staff and an unprecedented approval rating, Yudala and Stan-Ekeh are proving there are no saturated markets, only unexplored ideas.
Bisola Borha (31)
Anyone worth their salt in the Nigerian business ecosystem will tell you that there has been an unprecedented cultural shift in how Nigerians engage businesses and that shift has helped transform the industry, opening it up to entrepreneurs an innovators who half a decade ago would have struggled greatly. They will also tell you that the wedding industry has seen the largest growth in that time, transforming from a million dollar industry to a billion dollar industry buttressed in part by the increased visibility social and digital media affords young couples. Nigerian weddings have become a different kind of glamorous event, and wedding planners like Bisola Borha have been at the very forefront of this new wave of planning and orchestrating the perfect Instagram ready wedding.
When she started her business Trendy Bee events in 2012, Borha had just left her position as an operational staff at Cotecna Destination Inspection. Working there had introduced her to the thrill of event planning and offered a network of vendors and associate industry professionals, a portfolio that came in handy when she established her own outfit. In five short years, Borha’s Trendy Bee Elite Events has risen to become one of the most respected event management companies in the country managing events in Dubai, Vegas, London and Zanzibar. Her reputation is so widespread that it even earned her a profile and cover feature in the respect Vanguard Allure weekend pull out magazine. Borha is also well respected for her willingness to engage new vendors and help them break into the industry and provide training programmes for young women looking to switch careers into event planning.
Ubi Franklin (31)
Media mogul Ubi Franklin has been on the internet in the last few months for reasons other than his stellar career as a media manager and music executive and that is a crying shame. Franklin is hands down, one of Nigeria’s most successful music executives, due to his ability to spot, nurture and market creative talent. Franklin began his career as an assistant for veteran comedian Julius Agwu, and then with AY Makun, his time with both comedians allowing him to build an extensive list of contacts and connections before he decided to start promoting music shows on his own. In 2009 Franklin met singer Iyanya, who’d just moved from Abuja to Lagos, seeking change his sound after a poorly received debut album. Together, they worked out the details, helping to craft Iyanya’s first viral hit “Kukere” and building a team of producers and artists that worked on Iyanya wildly successful second album.
Riding the wave of Iyanya’s success, Franklin started Made Men Music Group. He judiciously signed a handful of multi-talented artists like producer/singer Selebobo and the now globally loved Tekno. He also signed Baci and Emma Nyra. Franklin helped shepherd a number of international hits from Tekno and Iyanya and also organized a series of successful transcontinental tours that cemented Iyanya’s status as a global pop star. Franklin has also expanded his empire into other fields. He recently launched the start up, Instant Pick-Up, a boutique laundry service that harnesses the power of GPS tracking and internet interfaces to create a seamless service and allows people monitor their laundry using a digital app. Franklin also established a non-profit, the Ubi Franklin Start-up Funds Empowerment initiative in May 2017 to provide financial grants to small and medium scale start-ups looking to scale.
The Future Awards Africa Prize in Sports
Asisat Oshoala (23)
Asisat Oshoala is without a doubt one of Nigeria’s biggest football export, bar none. It is even more remarkable the things she has achieved as a female footballer in one of continent’s most consistent teams. In 2017, after a number of fruitful years with the much respected Arsenal Women’s Football team, and a stint with the Liverpool F.C women’s team, Oshoala made the transfer to Chinese side Quanjian F.C in the Chinese Women’s Super League as a centre forward. Even in a new continent with a language barrier, Oshoala excelled, winning the league’s award for the most goal scorer. But this is only one in a litany of achievements for the Nigerian born centre forward. She was the highest goal scorer at the 2014 FIFA U-20 women’s world cup and was the best player and second top goal scorer at the 2014 African Women’s championship. But perhaps her biggest honour yet is being made a Member of the Order of the Niger in 2014 by President Goodluck Jonathan.
“Seedorf” as she is called by her teammates has made a name for herself as a football prodigy, an tireless worker and team player always willing to shore up her colleagues and work for the good of the collective team. Her BBC 2015 Female Footballer of the Year award suggests that the world as well see her talent and applauds her for it.
Anthony Joshua (28)
The Anthony Joshua story is slightly different for everyone who tells it. For Nigerians, a huge part of his story revolves around his repeated attempts to represent Nigeria at the Olympic games and how he was rejected by the Nigerian sports federation, and how they shamelessly claimed him as theirs when Joshua went it alone and ended up winning the world heavyweight title. Many would expect him to reject them in return but Joshua is a magnanimous sportsman on and off the field and has embraced the love Nigerians have shown him following his win.
With roots in Sagamu, Lagos, Joshua’s family relocated and naturalised in the UK. Joshua began representing England as an amateur boxer competing in the super-heavyweight division and represented Britain at the 2012 Olympics where he won a gold medal. In 2014 he went professional and began to compete in pro-boxing competitions, quickly rising up the ranks and winning the British regional heavyweight titles in 2015 and 2016. Joshua faced Charles Martin the world heavyweight champion on April 9th 2016, and won with a surprise knock out in the second round, making him the world heavyweight champion. He also beat world champion Vitaly Klitschko in a TKO, cementing his place as the world’s best active boxer. Joshua retired temporary in late 2016, before making a comeback in March 2017.
Akhator Evelyn (22)
22 year old Evelyn Akhator didn’t think when she was drafted to play in the Women’s National Basketball Association league for the Dallas Wings, that she would end the year a National hero. But that is exactly what happened after she agreed to play with the Nigerian basketball team D’Tigress, who qualified to play at this year’s All African Basketball Games. Akhator who had gotten into the game playing college basketball, had already gotten considerable fame from playing within the leagues, but had to carry the whole weight of the dreams of a country on her shoulders as she played power forward for Nigeria’s team. We should have known she would not only be up to challenge but totally crush it.
Akhator finished the Afrobasket championship as the event’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) she also helped D’Tigress win the entire thing and bring the cup. Akhator joined a whole litany of Nigerian born athletes who excelled on global stages this year, and makes our list for her excellent leadership.
Alexandra Chuka Iwobi (21)
Alexander Chuka Iwobi’s electrifying goals at the recently concluded friendly against Argentina were a much needed glimpse into the future of the next Jay-Jay Okocha. That is a comparison that Iwobi is all too eager to live up, considering he has looked up to the Nigerian legend since he was a child. Born in Lagos and raised in the United Kingdom, Iwobi grew up at the height of his uncle Jay-Jay Okocha’s fame and saw him dazzle the globe with his superior foot work and ever present charisma. When the opportunity presented itself, he joined Arsenal football club as a minor, and worked with the team till he made his first team debut in 2013 against West Bromwich. In 2015, he signed a proper contract, cementing his place with the team.
Since then Iwobi has joined the Nigerian national team, and under the guidance of former TFAA nominee Mikel-John Obi, guided the Nigerian team to the 2018 world cup. He has also distinguished himself at Arsenal, playing in every major club based football tournament in the four years since his debut. His career highlight was helping his team win the 2017 FA Cup and earning his first winner’s medal with the team.
Victor Moses (26)
Like many Nigerians, football was a constant in Victor Moses’s life. He spent most of his childhood witnessing the careers of Nigerian greats like Jay-Jay Okocha and Nwankwo Kaunu and went into the sport professionally in his early teens. By the time Moses entered his late teens, he had already gone pro, playing for the English U-16, U-17, U-19 and U-21 teams, gaining a reputation for his stamina and excellent footwork. However he was convinced to pay switched sides and play for Nigeria as adult, joining the Nigerian National team in 2012 debuting during the qualifiers for the 2013 African cup of Nations.
It was around this time that Moses made the transition to the english premier league. He started his career proper with Wigan Athletic, before gaining the attention of the talent management at Chelsea FC. Moses had an uncharacteristically successful first season at Chelsea, scoring a total of ten goals. He was however transferred on loan to a number of clubs in the premiership before he was recalled in 2016 to Chelsea, where he scored his first goal for the club in four years on August 23rd. Following his return, Moses helped Chelsea win the premiership 16-17 season, after which he returned to the Nigerian team and also helped them qualify for a spot at the 2018 Fifa World Cup.
The Future Awards Africa Prize for Education
This category is endowed by the University of Sussex.
Mukhtar Danmallam (29)
A sign of a true public speaker is membership at the Toastmaster’s club. Spread across the world in small clubs, the Toastmasters encourage everyday people to take up the act of public speaking and in the process build up their confidence and interest in public service. Exposure to this kind of altruistic community building must have had a great impact on medical doctor Mukhtar Danmallam, because he has dedicated himself to ensuring that thousands of young person in his indigent Kano state are exposed to the knowledge and experience that he himself has learnt. Danmallam has created a slew of programmes dedicated to improving the reading culture among the young people of Kano state and Northern Nigeria as a whole.
He created the Daura Literacy and Awareness Association in 2010 and through the organization, Danmallam advocates for cultural and academic literacy throughout the Daura Emirate. He organizes medical outreaches through which he meets hundreds of young people brimming with potential and lacking opportunities and he introduces them to organizations within the D.A.A.A, like the Book Club, the Talent Nurture Programme, the Indigent Student Programme, Toastmasters e.t.c. Danmallam has dedicated his life to literacy, and because of him 200 young Nigerians have had a life changing encounter with true literacy.
Wole Adedoyin (31)
When Wole Adedoyin set about the task of single handedly creating the first body dedicated solely to emerging Nigerian writers, he couldn’t have predicted just how big it would grow, and how much it would matter to young Nigerians in the creative arts. The Society of Young Writers in Nigeria (SYNW), Adedoyin’s brain child has published over 1000 emerging writers through a quarterly creative writing workshop and an online publishing project, and its members have spanned across the country in 30 branches nationwide.
But Adedoyin also understands that there is a special connection that happens when the book is taken offline and into the town halls and libraries where the work is best needed, and to achieve that, he created Read Across Nigeria (RAN) a non-profit that has organized two years of public readings across 20 states in Nigeria in honour of the former president of the Association of Nigerians Authors (ANA) Wale Okediran (for 2016) and Hajiya Abdulwaheed (the first female prose writer whose medium was the Hausa language in 2016). In recognition of Adedoyin’s work, he was appointed national secretary of ANA’s Young Mentorship project. Ultimately, Wole Adedoyin is a man so impacted by the joy a book can bring, he has dedicated his life to creating such joy and ensuring it is spread as far as it can go. We cannot but admire that.
Samson Abioye (late) Oluyemi Oluwaseun Imole & Akanji Abayomi Gideon (26/29/23)
One of the major problems facing education in Nigeria is debate around our current methods of evaluating educational progress. There has been such an emphasis on ‘passing’ examinations rather than imbibing the knowledge that examinations are supposed to test that circumventing or tricking the system has become the goal of many educational organizations instead of instilling knowledge. There are however, still a few near infallible safe guards, like the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) Universal Tertiary Matriculation Exam (UTME), an unbiased exam system that shown the most evolution to meet the times. As the board moved towards computer based tests, it discovered there were a whole generation of young Nigerians lacking in computer literacy and alienated from the process. Pass.Ng, a web, desktop and mobile based CBT examination prep and testing platform created by Late Samson Abioye, Oluyemi Imole and Akanji Gideon has done much in bridging that gap.
By digitizing the examination preparation process, Pass.NG solves the all important question of familiarizing potential candidates with computer based testing while preparing them for what is one of the most important examinations of their lives. Its efficacy has it being endorsed by JAMB and the Federal government and allowed the trio create a student based network of coaches and tutors who are employed by the platform to provide offline tutoring for students still learning the ropes of computer literacy. They have tweaked their app several times to best serve their audience and continue to innovate to ensure that Pass.NG remains a useful resource for all Nigerians.
Pass.ng originally started testing only for JAMB but several other tests have been added. As of August 2017, over 80 million tests have been taken on the platform.
The exponential growth of the company attracted like Facebook, Wechat, Airtel, MTN and 9mobile in different capacities.
In 2017, pass.ng helped 400 students from Makoko prepare for their exams and 230 of those students were successful in the UTME examination.
Olaseni Cole (30)
What it does it mean for a Nigerian in 2017 to have never used a computer? This is the question Olaseni Cole was faced with when he was posted to Ibadan, a fairly cosmopolitan city in Oyo state, Nigeria. As an ICT instructor at a public school, he was horrified to learn that students received only theoretical instruction about computers and a good number of the students in his classes had never even seen a computer before. He began to take his laptop to school every day and ensured he introduced at least one student a day to a practical understanding of how computers work. When he finished his service year, he decided to scale this idea and created the Young Empowered Programmers (YEP!) non-profit to introduce disadvantaged Nigerians to coding and ICT.
In less than a year, YEP! has helped over 1000 students gain some level of computer literacy, as well as successfully campaigning for a number of public secondary schools to include coding into their school curriculums. Through YEP! Cole facilitates and organizes educational events for children and young adults with a focus on promoting internet and computer literacy. He believes no child should be computer literate in 2017, and honestly we agree. www.yep.com.ng
Claudine Adeyemi (27)
The transition from university into the workplace is a difficult one. Increasingly, employers are flagging the lack of employability skills amongst recent graduates as a real issue. Students are also failing to find jobs that reflect their success at university and some are failing to find jobs at all.
Claudine set up The Student Development Co. (The SDC) to support students through this transitional period. Primary Colours Academy, The SDC’s first initiative, is a series of free careers workshops. The aim is to assist students leaving college or university in their preparation for their careers and to ensure a smooth transition into a workplace in which they can thrive.
The SDC has also launched:
- The Skills & Insights Programme (aimed at 16 to 18 year olds) which provides an insight into various companies and industries through office tours and workshops; and
- Ask A Professional – video interviews with young professionals who share their career experiences and top tips
In September 2016, The SDC launched the revolutionary mobile app – Career Ear. Career Ear is a Q&A careers advice platform allowing young career seekers to ask questions directly to professionals across a range of industries. Both students and professionals can download the app from the app store or play store here: http://www.studentdevelopment.co.uk/career-ear/
The Future Awards Africa Prize for Technology
Chris Kwekowe (24)
The first thing you notice about Chris Kwekowe’s e-learning platform SlateCube, is the ease of navigation. The second is the refusal to baby its audience, a primarily African assortment of student from Western, Southern and East Africa. Third you notice is the plethora of options available to every student. These three priorities were place front and centre when Kwekowe dreamed up his e-learning platform, a place where the limitations that usually force African students into the ‘respected’ disciplines were done away with and students were allowed to study and matter whatever caught their interest, no matter how unconventional. In the years since SlateCube launched, Kwekowe and his team have seen a steady increase in the number of students who return to the platform eager to master the online courses they’ve enrolled for.
Kwekowe’s 3000 monthly visitors are only a start for him. His plan is to produce 1.2 million Africans whose education is greatly supplemented or provided as whole by Slatecube, and to that end the team has already organized up-skill conferences in Nairobi, Kenya and Gaborone, Botswana. Kwekowe believes that ICT is the much needed bridge between Africans and success and believes that Slate Cube is a much need part of that bridge. We believe Slatecube and in Kwekowe’s vision.
Tobi Ayeni (27)
Tobi Ayeni is not here for your boundaries. She is a force of nature and an inspiration to thousands of young Nigerian women who have been discouraged by the misogyny that is rife in the Nigerian geek subcultures and tech industries, a literal example of women who are crashing into formerly male-owned spaces and taking them over, no excuses offered. Tobi Ayeni is the country’s most well-known tech bloggers and easily the country’s premier female tech blogger. Her blog MissTechy is ranked very highly in the worldwide Alexa ranking and her perspective on new tech, industry developments and general tech subculture is greatly respected thanks to her tangential ideas and her unvarnished approach to engaging technology.
Ayeni rise through the tech ranks is even more impressive when you consider that she juggles her hugely popular website with a full-time job and several other obligations, including digital strategy. Ayeni is never hesitant to speak openly about the overt and subtle misogyny she has faced from tech entrepreneurs and bloggers and uses her platform to also challenge the misogyny she has seen others experience. She is expanding what our preconceptions of how technology should be approached and shattering glass ceilings while she is at it.
Adebolu Ibukun (27)
When we talk about the achievements of the majority of the nominees on this year’s The Future Awards Africa, we can literally speak about them doing every kind of creative endeavor, even building a rocket. Yes, this year, the Future Awards Africa honours Adebolu Ibukun an system engineer who had the privilege of helping to design the structure and configuration of a series of nano-satellites, dedicated to education and capacity building. The NigeriaEduSat-1, created in partnership with GhanaSat-1 is West Africa’s first locally designed nanosatellite constellation (five satellites in all), designed and assembled by engineers trained on the continent.
Ibukun who studied for both his first and second engineering degrees in Nigeria has helped advance Nigeria’s ambitious space program and is destined to become an integral part of our future space related projects. Thanks to him and the other engineers who worked on NigeriaEduSat-1, Nigeria has become one of three countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to develop local competence and will mean new frontiers for Nigerian tertiary institutions who can now develop innovative technologies. I guess you could say, “it’s not rocket science” is a joke that Ibukun can now banish forever.
Damilola Jegede Co-Founder, Naira Box (32)
When the Nigerian government began its push to steer Nigeria’s chaotic economy towards safer, cashless policies, it was met with some resistance. A cashless economy would require certain things the average Nigerian didn’t have; access to unlimited internet and electricity and a more than rudimentary understanding of internet culture. Damilola Jegede and Jay Chikezie saw that it wasn’t enough to help people make cashless transactions, anyone who was going to succeed in the new niche a cashless economy provided needed to also provide incentives for users to embrace it. They partnered with Tokunbo Adetona and finetuned their untapped business idea, honing the service they offered till it became Nairabox, a parent company specializing in developed specialized mobile applications for Banks and other enterprises in Nigeria.
Jegede’s background in financial technology (fintech) proved invaluable to the team understanding how to interface banking systems (the country’s major money handlers) with customers looking for increased ease and safety. As a self taught coder who skipped school to focus solely on tech, he is unconstrained by conventional learning and its insistence on linear thought, seeking out tangential alternatives to everyday problems. Nairabox’s biggest success has come from its ability to automate simple yet recurring expenses and problems and convincing customers to use their wallets to support brands and initiatives they want to see succeed. Partnerships with music labels and streaming platforms has helped strengthen our entertainment industries and provide much needed, trackable revenue sources. Nairabox is a leader in Nigerian fintech, and their plan is to take on and conquer Africa.
Henry Obinugwu (28)
Technology has always been a constant in Henry Obinugwu’s life. It has informed the majority of his life changing decisions, like choosing to study Mathematics at the University of Lagos, and deciding to cross the pond to earn a degree in Business Informational Technology from the Southhampton Solent University in the United Kindgom. It is also the reason why he left jobs at CBC EMEA and Specsavers and joined Nigeria’s grown repatriate community struggling to innovate new ideas and scale them in what some swear is the worst environment for business in the world. Obinuguwu’s aptitude for business and his passion for technology has pushed him to make decisions that he could have scarcely explained to anyone else, but that passion and aptitude have also rewarded him immensely.
Taking his four years of experience in production ideation, development and manufacturing, Obinugwu decided to strike out on his own. He founded VNTS in 2015, a product development company invested in the ideation, construction and mass fabrication of original products with a focus on innovative devices and the creation of platforms on which devices will run. One of his first major triumphs at head VNTS was securing a patent for his now award winning NetPremise IoT device. NetPremise LTE, is the world’s first LTE Wi-FI Router, PLC Extender that comes with a rechargeable battery embedded, solving the problem of poor data deliver, poor Wi-Fi coverage and compensates for Nigeria’s erratic power issues. Obinugwu’s innovation has been sold to 400 individuals and corporate clients and it was awarded the Best Innovative IT product at the 2016 Nigerian innovation Summit Awards. It is impressive but Obinugwu and VNTS are only getting started.
The Future Awards Prize for New Media
Richard ‘Nasty Boy’ Akuson (23)
Richard Akuson wears many hats; digital media strategist, publicist, publisher, contributing editor and stylist/curator. It seems a lot for one person to handle let alone do well, but Richard somehow manages to juggle them all, even as he navigated the exhausting rigours of the Nigerian Law School and shuttling between Lagos and Abuja. But the PR Boy, as he is known in public relations circles lives for the thrill. He has managed to finesse Nigeria’s often cultish new media industry, positioning himself as a spokesman for the often marginalized communities of queer folk and fashion lovers through his highly feted fashion magazine, A Nasty Boy.
A Nasty boy skirts the edge of Nigerian taboos, pushing the boundaries of our often religiously ordered sensibilities and poking holes at the fragile boundaries of gender and identity. A Nasty Boy is best known for its gaze on androgyny, and its colourful editorials routinely push those gender boundaries, dressing men in skirts and dresses, filling in their hooded brows with brightly coloured eyeshadow and lips painted for war. The international press is highly intrigued by Akuson’s unique perspective and have courted him from across the world, with editorials, profiles and interviews on CNN, WIRED Japan and Vogue Italia. Akuson just might prove us all wrong and usher us into a new more genderfree world yet by spearheading conversations around gender, cultural and social inclusion as the way forward to create a more inclusive and respectful people through A Nasty Boy and his other creative ventures.
Early in 2017, Richard launched A Nasty Boy; a boundary-pushing publication that explores otherness in people, culture and fashion. Since its inception, it has been featured by renowned international platforms such as i-D, Dazed, CNN, BBC, Marie Claire and more.
Femi ‘Kraks’ Bakre (24)
At this point, Femi Bakre and Kraks, the media platform he created has become synonymous with a certain strain of new media in Nigeria; the user generated aggregator. As a creator, Bakre has cracked the code of understanding exactly what the average Nigerian internet user wants when he opens a computer and connects to an active internet connection. He has also learned the best ways to ensure that this content is delivered without excuse or delay to the consumer and how to allow the user not just consume this information but also contribute to it through aggregation.
Along with his team, Kraks TV became both loved and vilified, but ultimately inescapable. Bakre seeks to replicate this incredible success in other new media platforms through a private diversification programme that sees the company move towards the app ecosystem. If there is any man that can crack it. It is Bakre. In the last one year, Kraks TV has moved from just an online media platform, and grown into a Digital Marketing Agency, started our e-Radio, e-food channels and now have a full Ltd company with a growing workforce and clientele. Kraks has also established a UK arm in a bid to connect Africa and Europe through comedy.
Ademola ‘Expose’ Adetona (29)
Two thousand viral campaigns in Africa. Just trying to wrap our heads around this number is enough to give pause. Two thousand viral campaigns is a catch all for thousands of hours devoted to research, manpower and execution, thousands of ideas offered and rejected, thousands of setbacks circumvented and two thousand triumphs ably celebrated. Demola Adetona, otherwise known as Demola Expoze is arguably Nigeria’s most prolific digital strategist, working with a small but dedicated team and helping everyone from wealthy men of God to Coca-Cola itself find new ways to engage and excite their audiences. Through Expoze Nigeria, Adetona’s digital marketing firm established in 2010, he has proven himself the maven of digital media activations and social media.
Adetona began his career back when he was a student at Lautech, running what he called “Expoze Magazine” that revolved around campus culture. His success and network within the school and other lagos based universities led to commissions from private companies seeking to find an audience among university students, which led to Adetona establishing a subsidiary marketing firm. Fast forward to 2017 and Adetona has become a leading figure in the digital media industry, co-convening the first Lagos Digital Summit and founding MyFront Pager, Expoze Nigeria and MY Lekki.
Delphine Okobah (29)
When Delphine Okobah decided to rebrand herself and take her side hustle as a red carpet host and event compere seriously, she took to twitter, using the new ‘Thread’ update to intimate her several thousand followers on her decision to go full time into entertainment. Until then Okobah had dabbled and found moderate success, but was crippled as many Nigerian millennials are, by the fear that if she didn’t have a safety net of a conventional education, she would ruin her life. It’s been two years since the Delphinator introduced her nick-name and took the plunge into African entertainment, shoring up that endeavour with a Graphic design outlet and several content creation channels including a Youtube channel that includes a false alarm about a handful oof new albums.
Delphine Okobah’s star is definitely on the rise, but she has used the influence she already has so spectacularly that she has bought herself a career in the film industry and the respect of her peers.
Dolapo ‘LowlaDee‘ Adeleke (27)
Is it possible to go from relative obscurity to the toast of the digital media sphere? Dolapo Adeleke, otherwise known as LowlaDee to her myriad of fans on Youtube is determined to prove this. Dolapo Adeleke was 16 when she experienced great personal tragedy, an avoidable accident that left her with permanent facial scars. She had loved stories before then, writing her first book at age 9, but post-accident stories became a proper refuge, a place where she could forget the world and remake it in her own image. She struggled to find a way into Nollywood but was frustrated by the nepotism and dearth of original ideas that plagued the industry, so she turned to digital media and began to create content on her own terms.
LowlaDee put out three short films, Brave, A Place called Happy and Entangled, all small scale but critically well recieved. Her big break however, came when she decided to segue into web serials, starting big with a gamble where she paired Nick Mutuma, a Kenyan actor known for his work on MTV’s Shuga with relatively unknown Chiagoziem Nwakanma, who play newlyweds who have to navigate the complicated first year of marriage. The confluence of Youtube and a renewed interest in Nigerian made story telling saw This Is It become an instant viral success, garnering hundreds of thousands of youtube views. This Is It, is the first in a string of experiments Adeleke intends to perform where she unpacks contemporary Nigerian living, dispensing it through the democracy of new media.
The Future Awards Africa Prize for Media Enterprise
Oluwagbeminiyi Osidipe (31)
You might not know this, but when a visual cue, or an familiar sound brings to mind Hans and Rene, you are actually validating the stellar work of Social Media Strategist and Creative Consultant Gbeminiyi Osidipe. Osidipe is one of the best in the country at what she does, managing the creative consulting accounts of several high profile Nigerian businesses, including the Radisson Blu Lagos, COPA Lagos and Promo-Printing. She is part of the new school of advertising executives who understand the final consumer has moved beyond a generic jingle, crafted as blandly as possible to appeal to as many demographics as possible. Instead she preaches the gospel of tailored marketing, native advertisements that acknowledge the intended consumer and appeal to their lifestyles, personal choices and interests.
Niyi’s training and background in digital marketing consultancy is backed up by several years of real life experience planning and implementing creative strategy. Her deep passionate for the brands she manages and the potential growth she sees in them motivates her to innovate, and create consistent, original content that is never out of touch with the realities of the people for whom the product is intended. She is preaching a new gospel of advertising and sign us up, because we believe.
Tiwalola ‘TJ Dotts’ Olanubi (28)
The problem with new media is that there are no hard and fast rules to finding success or carving your own path. Every new media professional has to learn on the job, macgyver their tried and tested formulas for providing clients with much needed results through a personal process of trial and error. Tiwalola ‘Tj Dotts’ Olanubi is one of the Nigerian new media pioneers to figure things out and find a winning formula. He created a social media marketing agency called DottsMediaHouse and harnessed the power of digital media influencer marketing, social media management to create vibrant, thriving brands for her customers. Her strategies for online & onground activations for established brands through content creation & native advertising have made her an industry force. Since DottsMedia founded in 2014, Olanubi has worked with brands like BlackBerry, Access Bank, Amstel Malta e.t.c and is presently handling projects for Pepsi, 9Mobile, Intel, HP, Dano to mention a few.
DottsMedia has handled 80% of the campaigns trending on social media including 9Mobile’s #PrizeForLiterature, Pepsi #CorporateElite, Intel’s #DominateTheGame e.t.c Olanubi understands that social responsibility is important to the success of any business and that ultimately her brand is about people and not numbers, and such she puts her money where her mouth is and offers a helping hand whenever it is needed as evidenced through projects like Union Bank’s #WeCare4IDPs / The #DareToInspire Projects.
Olanubi’s biggest challenge in the last year was helping telecommunications multinational Etisalat Nigeria execute a near flawless transition into a new brand name 9Mobile. Other projects included this year’s edition of the Aquafina Elite Model Look 2017 and a 7up campaign. The company alone had a massive turnover of 27 million in the last year.
Timilehin Bello (25)
A company started via Whatsapp would have been incomprehensible in 2010. Back then, the platform was only barely tolerated and struggled to find users. Today many big name influencers have built their entire businesses in the cloud, using platforms such as Whatsapp and Instagram as digital offices and portfolio and interacting with its clients entirely online. Such is the nature of the world where Timilehin Bello who started his company Media Panache Nigeria in 2016 via Whatsapp thrives, harnessing the power of digital media to his advantage. As an image consulting firm, Media Panache has handled high profile clients like Whogohost, MTN Foundation, Bank of Industry, Simplified Corporate Logistics, and handled individual clients like Skales, Korede Bello, Yaw and Alibaba.
Working with a team of 10 PR specialists, Bello navigates the often treacherous terrain of social media, steering his clients through the best route to achieving their objectives. Bello understands the power of philanthropy, especially for public image and has always set aside time to share his knowledge and expertise through campaigns like the ‘Inspire Youngsters’ drive started by Media Panache. Targeting secondary schools in Lagos, Bello’s team engages students, taking them through the ropes of appropriately using social media in a contemporary age where everyone is one tweet away from a scandal. He also partnered with WhoGoHost to put together web trainings for new media hopefuls looking for guidance.
Timilehin Bello’s company Media Panache Nigeria has a team of 10 PR experts and boasts a wide range of adulated clients both in the corporate and entertainment industry – some of the corporate clients include: Bank of Industry (BOI), Ribena, Billionaire Bet, The Velvet Expression, MTNF, St. Ives Hospital, Jumia Market, Jumia Food, WhoGoHost and Simplified Corporate Logistics.
In mid-January 2017, Timi’s company kicked off a campaign entitled ‘Inspire Youngsters’. The campaign was aimed at instilling the young ones with moral and social ethics of the internet, as well as how to best yield social media for positive purposes in today’s contemporary age. The campaign was targeted at secondary schools in Lagos state and commenced with Christ the King International School situated at Gbagada; where a number of thought-provoking topics, including the appropriate use of social media were discussed by the CEO; Timilehin Bello. Other schools were visited as well. The company has 10 full staff and 7 contract staff, and managed a turnover of 38 million naira in the last year.
Rick Nwanso (27)
Rick Nwanso began his foray into multi-interest entrepreneurship back when he was just a 300 level student of Geology at the University of Lagos, fulfilling his internship obligations at Addax Petroleum. Nwanso first hand just how interesting a career as an entrepreneur could be in his role there and when he graduated he began to make plans towards incorporating his own company and wading into the muddy pool that is business in Nigeria. But before then he needed some experience and co-founded R&K consulting, a research firm where he worked at as Managing Partner until 2014, when he left to start éth Global Ltd. Under the éth Global Ltd umbrella, Nwanso started éth Communications and éth General contract.
Nwanso’s knack for brand communication has seen him form strong relationships with a client base in Nollywood, providing them much needed digital and social media communication. Nwanso has worked with the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF), the team behind the critically acclaimed movie ’76’ and facilitated the much lauded Geeks on A Plane Africa Tour, helping the tech investors meet and liaise with Nollywood’s big players. He also worked on The 40th Miss Nigeria L’avyanna, Geeks on a Plane African tour, Google Digital Skills for Africa, NASA Space Apps Lagos Hackathon, X3M Music, Drum Roll record signee “Niniola”, Young Nation/Heritage LIVE. Nwanso’s work as a communicator is unrivalled, and Nollywood is much better for his expertise. Rick has 6 staff and 10 contract staff In the last year alone, his companies managed a turnover of about 10 million; amazing numbers when you consider Nigeria is in a recession.
Ijeoma Ndekwu (28)
Award-winning lifestyle journalist, Ijeoma Ndekwu launched Redrick Public Relations with the desire to practice in the real world her belief that market intelligence merged with strategic, value-centered creative thinking mould the right consumer perceptions and help build successful brands. Her appointment as the Style Editor of Africa’s leading Fashion, Lifestyle & Entertainment website- BellaNaija.com, guarantees access to consumer insights and to the large stakeholders in the African Fashion Industry.
In the past, she has secured coverage in a variety of media including ThisDay Style, Complete Fashion Magazine, Genevieve Magazine, Studio 53 Extra and more. Ijeoma is an Honours graduate of Integrated Marketing Communications from the American University of Paris, France.
For Nigerian PR company founder, Ijeoma Ndekwu, becoming an entrepreneur was in her genes. From an early age, she took her inspiration from her successful entrepreneurial father who managed to achieve the freedom of work/life balance in his business, and showed her an alternative and entrepreneurial career path of her own was possible.
The Future Awards Africa Prize in Public Service
Adetola Onayemi (26)
While the present administration has struggled in that regard, it does have some successes, like Adetola Onayemi who at one time was a special assistant to the vice-president on matters of trade, industry and investment. A University of Lagos graduate with a master in Law from Cambridge University, Onayemi has lectured as a visiting lawyer, worked as part the reform leader of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) and advised for the Civic Innovation Labs in Abuja.
Presently, he is the head of the Trade Remedies Authority at the Nigerian office for Trade Negotiations. This new position allows him implement the ideas he offered during his time as a special advisor and create policies that will greatly improve the ease of doing business in the country, especially for foreign nationals looking to invest, creating a database of trade and investment agreements so they can all be properly tracked and crafting policy to keep Nigeria economically vibrant.
Olufemi Olukayode ‘F. Shaw’ Adeyemi (32)
It only takes one shot at fame to go from relatively unknown to national talking point. Many spend years trying to figure exactly what their shot is. They chase fame or infamy, work their up social circles, fall into routine. But all Olufemi Olukayode Adeyemi, better known as F. Shaw, had to do become the talk of the nation was first make himself anonymous. The rapper and has been around for years – but his shot to stardom was arguably on 24th of July, 2017 When the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) unveiled F. Shaw as the individual behind its Twitter account. Ordinarily, it shouldn’t be a big deal, but the track record of witty tweets coming from the EFCC handle over time inspired curiosity among Nigerians on the identity of the handler,
F.Shaw used his experience as a rapper and scriptwriter to create an intelligent, witty but no nonsense persona committed to fighting financial based crime and engaging with Nigerians, providing them informatoion, proving that the government can also hip and current while beng functional and helping EFCC gain a digital presence. F.Shaw proves there is no one way to do digital media even when you are constrained by official protocol.
Joseph Ike (31)
Nigeria has a serious problem addressing mental illness. From our religious beliefs that banish mental illness as the machinations of evil spirits looking to manipulate lost souls to our insistence that all Nigerians have ‘resilience’ and as such should be able to shrug off the constant trauma we face in our daily lives, there is little space for conversations about mental illness to be had and help for sufferers. Joseph Ike is at least one professional on the side of the sufferer. When he was a staff at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatrist Hospital in Kaduna state, which serves Abuja, Kaduna and Kano, he took it upon himself to retrain all the facilities nurses to discard the isolation method for treatment of violent behaviour and embrace more contemporary methods of behavioural modification and reward systems for managing mental illness. This training and subsequent reorientation saw the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric hospital rise up the ranks and become of one of the best ranked hospitals in the country.
Figuring that the limitations of public service and bureaucracy would hinder the task to which he had set himself, Joseph Ike left a relatively comfortable position in the National service to start a private practice where he helps the drug addled, the mentally challenged and emotionally unbalanced manage their illnesses and reintegrate into public society.
Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi (30)
Is there a part of Nigerian society that rape culture hasn’t permeated? From the personal to the political; the religious to the banal, it seems if you search long enough beneath the surface, you will find strains of rape culture, permitting acts of evil, seemingly insignificant and impossible to ignore to occur. We all acknowledge in some capacity that we have a proper in Nigeria but we rarely go out of our way to do something about this. But nothing, not negligence or even how deeply entrenched rape culture is in our society has deterred Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi, the pioneer (and currently serving) co-ordinator of the lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) from protecting victims of assault and abuse and bringing them to justice.
As the co-ordinator of the Lagos state DSVRT, Adeniyi has dedicated her time, her knowledge and experience as lawyer and put it to use in the protection of women and girls at risk of intimate partner violence, as well as preventing assault and rape before it can occur and ensuring that perpetrators are punished when it does happen. Under her tenure as Co-ordinator, Adeniyi has ensured the DSVRT gained a strong digital presence and encouraged more young people to approach the team with their own stories and the stories of others suffering abuse. She facilitated a DSVRT trust fund to support rehabilitated victims of abuse, published a much needed resource book on gender based violence and partnered with Airtel Nigeria to create hotlines on which victims could report crime and seek advice on assault and rape free of charge. Adeniyi is only a few years in and changing lives. She is a miracle for women for whom silence was the only recourse.
Dada Olabisi Mary (29)
There are many ethical dilemmas that arise in the practice of medicine. Especially when it comes to medicine’s silent carers, the nurses who provide the patient care that is vital to patient recovery and healthcare. Providing care can be fraught with emotion and even draining for nurses who are required to have empathy for their patients but not too much that they ever get so emotionally invested that they cannot simply dust off and move on. Dada Olabisi Mary’s job as a nurse at the Catholic Charitas Foundation of Nigeria, St. Dominic Catholic Hospital Chapter has challenged this notion for her and proven to herself that there are depths of service that only true empathy can plumb.
As a nurse handling HIV patients, Dada’s job puts her in contact with hundreds of HIV infected patients every day as well as women in various states of pregnancy who have to face the all-important question of pre-natal care, the risk of debilitative disease and congenital infections. As a care giver for HIV patients Olabisi has had to personally monitor patients on Antiretroviral therapy, convince newly diagnosed patients to disclose to their intimate partners, immediate and extended families their status and provide support for them in many capacities. Her work with expecting mothers has also proven challenging but rewarding and being able to offer early diagnosis to 55 women with history of hypertension and guide them towards safe deliveries one of the highlights of her year. Dada Olabisi Mary is a modern day Nightingale, and hopefully her bushel is never hidden.
The Future Awards Africa Prize for Arts & Culture
Tunde Alara (27)
In 2016 and 2017, Alara has partnered with premier art fair Art X, this year working on a giant installation called ‘Smile’ that dissected Alara’s personal struggles with mental illness and depression and society’s inability to parse personal suffering and empathize. Alara also started an alternative art collective called ‘Fuck Art’ that has organized a number of successful exhibitions. He is proof that the system only exists because we let it.
Damn Art! There is swearing in this profile because Olatunde Alara would want swearing, to properly convey just how much he has come to despise the classist systems that determine what Nigerian artists gain mainstream success and what artist languish in obscurity, no matter how actualized their point of view and how outsize their talent. As a result, Alara has dedicated his career as an artist to calling out this hypocrisy and all the other injustices that plague our country. As an experimental visual artist whose preferred medium is graffiti, Alara’s work is often deliberately grotesque and decidedly minimalist, concerned more with message than form, more with initiating a conversation than impressing critics and gatekeepers with technique. After schooling in London, Alara returned to Nigeria to pursue art as a career after a stint as a magazine journalist.
Ayobami Adebayo (29)
When Ayobami Adebayo started creating fiction contemporaries Dami Ajayi and Emmanuel Iduma, she couldn’t have predicted that nearly a decade later she would become the most internationally lauded of all three. In 2017, her’s debut novel, Stay With Me, was published to critical acclaim in four countries, with translation rights acquired in over a dozen countries. An earlier draft was shortlisted for the Kwani Manuscript Prize and the finished novel was the only debut shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. Adebayo has been profiled in or has had her work reviewed by several publications such as Vogue, Guardian UK, The New York Times, The Financial Times, Essence, Guardian Life, Chicago Tribune, and The Wall Street Journal. She has been the recipient of fellowships and support from institutions including Ox-Bow School of Art, Ledig House, Sinthian Cultural Institute and Hedgebrook.
With translation rights acquired in 13 countries and a loyal following, Adebayo has become a bright new voice for contemporary fiction out of Nigeria and voice for women everywhere. Her ability to lay bare the plight of Nigerian women and the injustices they face as a result of systematic misogyny fuelled patriarchy has struck a nerve with women everywhere and reinforced the need for gender equality now.
Fola David (24)
Fola David, born on 5th day of September 1993, is a young upcoming nationally- recognised visual artist and performance painter. His preferred media include graphite, charcoal, oil and water colour.
Starting out as a self-taught portraitist, he has made a name for himself by drawing past and present, local and international celebrities with particular attention to detail of features and attitude of his subjects against a simple backdrop. He has worked with the Fashola Foundation, Trey Songz, Wale, Keri Hilson, R-kelly, Jidenna, 2face, Iyanya, Dj JimmyJatt, Alibaba, Vanessa Mdee and many more. He has been able to make a name for himself in the visual art space despite studying Medicine.
Fola, a graduate of Medicine and Surgery from the University of Lagos and for him, his constant interaction with the human figure in medicine and in art has been the ultimate experience. This has helped him hone two particular skills, patience and attention to detail, which has been instrumental in delivery of his works.
Modupeola Fadugba (32)
A multi-media artist working in painting, drawing, and socially-engaged installation. With a background in engineering, economics, and education, she works at the nexus of science, politics, and art. Fadugba works in series addressing cultural identity, social justice, game theory, and the art world within the socio-political landscape of Nigeria and our greater global economy. Fadugba holds a BEng Chemical Engineering / MA Economics (University of Delaware) and MEd (Harvard University). Recent solo exhibitions include Prayers, Players & Swimmers (Cité des Arts, Paris, 2017) and Synchronised Swimming & Drowning (London, 2017). Selected group exhibitions include The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition (Royal Academy, London, 2017); Afriques Capitales (Gare Saint Sauveur, Lille, 2017); Dakar Biennale (Senegal, 2016); The Art Energy (London, 2015); and Design is the Personality of an Idea (Ford Foundation & African Artists Foundation, Lagos, 2015). Fadugba’s interactive game installation, The People’s Algorithm was awarded El Anatsui’s Outstanding Production Prize (2014) and a 2016 Dakar Biennale Grand Prize from Senegal’s Minister of Communication. She recently presented on this work and her practice at TED Lagos. Fadugba has works in the collections of The University of Delaware, the Sindika Dokolo Foundation and Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Nadine Ibrahim (23)
When Nadine Ibrahim moved back to Nigeria in 2016, she had a simple plan, make films that expose the human condition with a focus on portraiture and emotion and unvarnished subjects. Framing her work around these three indices has given Ibrahim a unique point of view and elevated her work to the point where it is beginning to draw attention both locally and internationally. Ibrahim’s first short film ‘Through Her Eyes’ is a harrowing expose on the struggle that young Nigerian women, trafficked for work and prostitution or abducted by terrorist organizations face. Its nuanced representation of girls who become unwitting pawns in the plans of terrorist organizations was timely and done with the right amount of respect for the lives of these women and empathy for their horrid situations. Even when Ibrahim is working on projects with other filmmakers, she gravitates towards work that appeals to her creative and moral sensibilities. She worked on the Nollywood film “Hakkunde” that was created in part to explore life in Northern Nigeria and the plight of unemployed graduates in a crushingly unforgiving economy, two concepts which have been grossly underexplored in recent times. Nadine Ibrahim believes that the medium of film has always been used to propagate information and inform culture and she wants to contribute to this by providing unbiased examinations of complex lives often avoided for unease these stories can foster.
The Future Awards Africa Prize for Comedy
Otolorin Kehinde ‘Kenny Blaq’ Peter (25)
As a genre, comedy is always evolving. This is especially true for Nigerian comedy and the people who have followed it religiously. From the early days of Opa Williams’ ‘Night of a thousand laughs’ where two dozen comedians all vied for a ten minute set, all the way to today where comedians headline their own shows abroad, evolution has been the only constant theme. At the forefront of the current incarnation of Nigerian comedy is Nigeria’s most in-demand comedian, Otolorin Kehinde Peter, otherwise known as Kenny Blaq. Kenny Blaq is unanimously regarded as Nigeria’s most in-demand comedian thanks to his sold out shows in Nigeria and beyond, his rip-roaringly funny skits and his ability to cut through the detritus and get to the heart of the joke.
Kenny Blaq could have scarcely foreseen, when he was invited on a whim to perform at the 2011 Calabar Carnival’s Laffmattazz event that six years later he would be so successful, going from third rate feature to headlining the same carnival and winning awards for comedy from the Middle East Africa Music Awards. His comedy is divested off most of the tired tropes that have saturated Nigeria’s current Instagram heavy, desperate-to-blow industry, rife with wig wearing men who use the mockery of feminity as a vehicle for humour. Blaq’s anecdotal style, peppered with excellent music, which Blaq performs himself, speaks to his discipline as an artist, his impeccable comedic timing and his respect for his audience, particularly the women therein. He proves there is a way to do comedy without resorting to grotesquery.
Victor Ebiye (25)
Earlier this year, Victor Ebiye hosted his very comedy special ‘Bag of Emotions’ at the Hard Rock Cafe. This was an unprecedented move for a comedian who started his career on Instagram through a series of skits that went viral, but it also marked a shift in how comedy is performed in Nigeria. A gradutae of Electrical Electronics Engineering from Covenant University, Victor Ebiye is part of a group of creatives that include Nonso Bassey, Emma Oh My God who started their careers while still in the university and have all achieved varying levels of success. While Ebiye was in university he began his career as a compere, exaggerating testimonies during services to dispel tension during events and get the crowd going. He really didn’t achieve mainstream success until his controversial skit about blogging sensation Linda Ikeji went viral.
Ebiye’s comedy is distinguished from the majority of male comedians who have risen through the ranks via Instagram by his refusal to denigrate women or don femininity as gag for his jokes. He is also the first of the new wave of Instagram comedians to transition to offline comedy.
Olu ‘SLKomedy’ Salako (27)
You know you have cracked the mainstream as a Nigerian comedian when your skits are sampled and turned into marketable hits by none other than Bangalee himself. This was the reality of SLKomedy, a Nigerian actor and comedian and part of the wave of former Covenant University graduates who segued into creative fields post-graduation and succeeded. SLK started his career as a performer on the stage, performing in theatre productions when at 17 nearly a decade ago. Around the same time, he made his film debut in the Yorrywood feature film ‘Onibukun’. He didn’t get into stand up comedy proper until 2009 and prides himself in performing comedy that is free of expletives and sexual innuendo and never recycles comedy scenarios already owned by other comedians.
SLK voices the “Unilag Lying Girl” skit on Cool FM and Wazobia FM, and is one of the few comedians of the new wave who didn’t start their career on Instagram, instead using the platform as sort of self-advertising platform. His ability to find virality in the most universal of experiences has kept him in demand after nearly a decade in the business.
Gloria ‘Maraji’ Oloruntobi (20)
Musical.ly, a video sharing social media app built around the premise of lip-syncing to songs seems the weirdest place for one of Nigeria’s most promising comediennes to emerge. But this is exactly what happened with viral comedienne and social media star Gloria “Maraji” Oloruntoba. She first began to record skits lipsync-ing and creating complex choreography to popular songs on Musical.ly as a way to pass the time, until one of them, featuring a DJ rework of a popular pre-recorded answering phone message went viral on Twitter. Before long, Maraji’s knack for being able to animate the most awkward of viral social media videos translated into an active, loyal following across platforms, rising to as high as half a million followers on Instagram, her primary platform.
Maraji has since diversified, graduating with a degree in international relations from Covenant University and then delving full time into media. She has branched into scripted comedy, television and film. Her talents as an actress are impressive and her wit as a comedian continues to improve in both depth and complexity. But consistency is Oloruntoba’s biggest asset, and that will serve her well as she makes her way in the world.
Ereme ‘Twyse’ Abraham (26)
The kind of comedy that Abraham “Twyse” Ereme has popularized on Instagram is either your cup of tea or it is not. Either way, it is impossible to ignore. With several hundred thousand followers and what feels like an inexhaustible well of comedic material, Twyse has pantomimed and parodied his way into the hearts of millions of Nigerians. Twyse grew up in Ibadan, Germany and Port Harcourt, the early death of his father and a close relationship with his grandmother acquainting him with the self-deprecating whimsy from which many comedians draw inspiration.
In 2017, after a rough year that saw the comedian seriously struggle with mental illness and contemplate suicide, Twyse returned to form after taking some time off self-evaluate and put together a short film called ‘Twyse and family ‘ which featured fellow comedian Clinton Kod. The film was so well received, it enjoyed a limited release in British cinemas. Not bad for a guy who started his career by faking breastplates.
The Future Awards Africa Prize for Advocacy
Imrana Alhaji Buba (24)
Violent conflict and extremism continues to spread into the communities of Nigeria, one disenfranchised family at a time, one loss too many. The federal government comes off as unconcerned, preferring instead to react to protests, violent and otherwise with violence, constantly trying to suppress voices other than its own. From militants of the Niger Delta to the herdsmen killing innocent citizens in the Middle Belt, and the resurgence of Boko Haram in the North East while government is quietly militarizing paramilitary parastatals, we have needed to tackle the violence that is spreading across our country the way we do now. Never has the work that Imrana Alhaji Buba has dedicated his life to been more important.
Through the Youth Coalition against Terrorism (YOCAT), a volunteer-based youth-led organization that he founded in 2010, Buba has recruited volunteers to help unite Nigerian youth against violent extremism in north-eastern Nigeria. YOCAT was set up as a response to the devastation caused by Boko Haram. The first class Political Science graduate from the University of Maiduguri is using peace education in schools and villages to weaken the appeal of violent extremism in north-eastern Nigeria and equip impressionable young people with much needed life skills.
Imrana’s work is so impactful and so important, he was chosen for an international honour by the Queen of England. As a Queen’s young Leader, he joined honourees from 45 Commonwealth countries in London for five days of high-level engagements, all designed to help them network with potential donors, journalists and activists who can help them better achieve their goals.
The potential funding a royal honour will bring is great, but Imrana will do the work, no matter how much he has in his pockets.
Victor Ugo (27)
As a community, we are finally being forced to face mentally illness head on, with the kind of empathy and nuance it deserves. For far too long, we have demanded that the mentally ill among simply shrug off their debilitating illnesses and ‘function’ according to expectations we have determined as normal and punished them dearly for not having the tools to meet our expectations. Some people have managed, but far too many have given up, either taking their lives or allowing their illnesses consume them because they were sure they would never be understood or their struggles validated. Dr. Victor Ugo has always believed the stories of the mentally ill, and spurred by empathy, he launched the non-profit, Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative to help mentally ill persons find the support and care they need.
MANI has repeatedly organized online campaigns with the aim of sensitizing the average Nigerian with access to social media on just how normal mental illness is and how it should not be treated as an indictment on the sufferer, some kind of punishment for wrong doing, but rather, a hindrance that can be overcome through medication, treatment and behavioural modification. Over 1000 people contributed MANI’s fist campaign several hundred showed up the organization’s debut held during the Mental Health Week in October 2016. Ugo has continued to push aggressively for the sensitization of the general public towards the plight of the mentally ill through social media campaigns and offline events.
Ayodeji Osowobi (27)
Speaking up on rape was somewhat a taboo until three years ago when Ayodeji decided to change the narrative and create a platform where victims of rape could speak up and receive help; Stand to End Rape Initiative, a not-for-profit organisation creating awareness and changing community perception on sexual violence and providing psycho-social support to victims. Ayodeji’s effort on social media won her organisation The SMAA Best Use of Social Media by an NGO in Africa Award on 2015. With her personal funds, her organisation has assisted over 250 victims with medical, post-traumatic, legal aid and empowerment assistance. Recently, the organisation raised funds for a victim to continue her education at the university level. Ayodeji created a brand that holds government accountable on issues of violence against women. In the news was a case of Obiamaka who was raped to death. While other agencies kept silent, Stand to End Rape Initiative has been taking action on the matter and holds the Nigerian Police Force accountable on the delayed justice.
Stand to End Rape Initiative is undoubtedly the most recognised and significant youth arm working to advance end gender-based violence in Nigeria. Not only does Ayodeji advocate on gender-based violence issue through her organisation, she also works on the passage of Laws such as The Violence against Persons Prohibition Bill and The Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Institutions Prohibition Bill.
Ayodeji has worked in over 40 communities across Nigeria speaking against FGM, rape, teenage pregnancy and working with stakeholders to end the scourge. She is a budding young leader, fighter and inspiration to so many. Being a victim of rape herself, Ayodeji took the lemon life gave her and made a lemonade out of it.
Mary Yakubu (23)
There are many ways to immortalize one’s self. For some the route to immortality is through great acts of personal achievement, for others it is in the act of triumph over terrible personal tragedy. for others still, it is in the fight for the rights of all, even when the struggle is hard and the motivation to persevere wanes. Mary Yakubu’s strategy is simple; she leaves every place she visits better than she met it.
As a corps member sent to serve at Funtua, Katsina State, Ms. Yakubu immersed herself into the community, forging friendships and taking on the concerns of Jabiri’s citizens as her own. She also took on one of their biggest headaches; their community health centre, neglected by the state government and handicapped to help the towns people. Yakubu knew there was only one response to Jabiri’s problem and she set herself to task, personally financing and supervising a renovation of the community health centre as part of her personal NYSC project. Her focus was on maternal and child care and thanks to her selfless service, the centre is once again able to provide vital prenatal healthcare to expecting mothers and post-natal care for new mothers and their children.
Yakubu did something else, she invited the town’s residents to participate in the renovations, encouraging them to take ownership of their health centre and preserve it for themselves and their forebears. Mary Yakubu received a certificate of Merit from the National Youth Service and an Award of Excellence from the Funtua Zone community development group. She proves that acts of service, no matter how small have an outsize impact on its recipients.
Hauwa Ojeifo (25)
A mental illness diagnosis is a double edged sword. It marks a pivotal moment in a person’s life, a point before and after they discover that the chemicals in their brain’s are somewhat off, and as a result they must spend the rest of their lives compensating for this imbalance or risk losing their identities altogther. This must have been how Hauwa Ojeifo felt when she was diagnosed as suffering from Bipolar disorder (a mental illness that is characterized by bouts of manic activity followed by a ‘crash’ into despondency), and Post Traumatic Stress disorder. But Hauwa’s diagnosis also provided much needed answers into why her life had been so topsy-turvy and provided a medical solution to her problems. In a bid to share the help that had saved her life, she started the non-profit She Writes Woman and began to spread a gospel of openness and advocating for the normalization of discussions around mental health.
Hauwa’s gospel is simple, it is the story of her own struggle with mental illness and how diagnosis helped her make sense of her life and gave her the tools to regain control of her life and her emotions. She holds private mental health crisis and suicide prevention hotlines and found mentally ill persons access to free or heavily subsidized mediation and is advocating for better healthcare for persons who suff 25`
The Future Awards Africa Prize for Agriculture
Adetola Adeleke (31)
Adetola Adeleke began the Green Fairy Farms in Epe in response to the dearth of technologically savvy farming practices and profitable agriculture in the Epe region. Fairy Green Farms has one ace up its sleeves that puts it ahead of its competition; Green House Technology. Green House technology offers agropreneurs the ability to regulate the climate within their ‘glass’ houses and grow a variety of crops that otherwise would not thrive in certain climates. Using Green House technology allows Adeleke provide niche fruit and vegetable products that would otherwise wilt in uncontrolled Nigerian weather, experiment with traditional inter and intra-specie of plants to produce more sturdy, disease resistant strains of already existing plants. The impact of Green Fairy farms on the economy of Epe and its environs cannot be overemphasized.
But Adeleke is also about spreading the knowledge with which she has succeeded in Lagos, and she offers specialist agronomy trainings to economically disadvantaged youths within the community, offering food, shelter, a paying job and the prospects of learning a trade as valuable as greenhouse technology which can take them right out of crush cycle of rural poverty. Green Fairy farms is also progressive about manufacturing and is finalizing plans to enter into the frozen foods industry in Nigeria.
Sipasi Olalekan (30)
There are five thematic areas that have defined the work that Agropreneur and activist Sipasi Olalekan is doing in agriculture in Nigeria through his non-profit, Protect Ozone Sustainable Livelihood initiative, supported by the US Consulate. He has championed innovation through the Mobile Kitchen Garden, a method that reuses non-biodegradable environmental waste to fight Ozone layer depletion. He helps children and young adults understand in no uncertain terms the long term effects of pollution and climate change by taking them on field excursions that physically illustrate the often damaging side effects of pollution. He engages in reforestation efforts by collecting, nurturing to seedling the seeds of deciduous trees and distributing them to the people in the communities in which he works, encouraging them to adopt these seedlings and bring them to adulthood.
He also establishes demonstration farms currently situated in two Nigerian states, that function both as an experiment on Olalekan’s theories and a physical lab where his interns and students and come and physically practice the skills they are taught. And finally he has trained and mentored 6,032 children, youth and farmers on the environment and the allimportant task of protecting it from climate change.
Nasir Yammama (27)
Nasir Yanmama is passionate about grassroots farming. But as an agrotechnopreneur, he has seen firsthand the progress that can be made when technology is used to streamline traditional farming techniques. He created Verdant Agri-tech for this very purpose, providing mobile technology to rural farming communities as a way to access information about farming, track yields and other important changes for long term surveying and analysis and improve food production through the early detection of disease and other extenuating circumstances that might affect crop yield.
Yanmama and Verdant Agri-tech achieves its goals through long term partnerships with international recognized charities like OXFAM and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit who are looking to connect directly to the agricultural value chain in Africa and cuts out the middle man, ensuring that farmers get a bigger cut o the value for their products and in exchange providing OXFAM and these other charities invaluable data about the farms of the recipients of their grants that can then be used to monitor the effect of phenomena like pollution and climate on world crops. With lower costs, improved managerial support and a non-profit they are sure have their best interests at heart, Yanmama proves the agropreneur industrial is only just coming into its own in Africa.
Nasir’s passion for Nigeria’s agricultural development has taken him to unexpected heights – from being mentored by world-renowned business tycoon, Sir Richard Branson, to landing on the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list for 2017 – and he is just getting started.
Kafilat Adedeji (29)
The Agro-allied industries have become a priority for Nigerian startups, as the government tries to encourage business owners to return to the land and harness it with the level of machination and industrialization that first world countries have mastered. But before we can get there, we need agropreneurs who will innovate on the practices that already exist, fine-tuning them so the farmers who currently practice them aren’t forcefully ousted from their trade by insensitive ‘industrialization. Kafilat Adedeji, an agrotechnopreneur’s work is distinguished by the confluence of technology, science and agriculture. She runs an integrated research and training farm, utilizing microfarm technology to produce organic vegetables and mushrooms in and out of season.
With a first class in Agronomy and a Ph.D in plant science in the works, Adedeji is far more versed in her chosen field than many of our industry professionals her mutual interests of agritech and software put into research to better refine the science of aquaponic technology for practical applications in Agriculture and Agronomy. Adedeji’s team produces year-long organic farm produce, train other farmers on how to best integrate available contemporary software into their pre-established farming routines and fabricate and sell micro farm kits. Agriculture is the field on which Kafilat Adedeji plays and it is obvious mastery comes naturally to her.
Okorode Christian (25)
As an agropreneur, Okorode Christian has always concerned himself with scale. For him successful agricultural enterprise must not only grow, it must scale, expanding to meet demand and surpassing it. Working with that premise, every agricultural enterprise Christian has involved himself in, he has innovated and worked tirelessly until his projects achieve maximal capacity. First he took a 1,000 sucker plantain farm and transformed it into a 10,000 sucker plantain plantation, using the reach of social media to convince four investors to place one million naira each into his plantation, while he managed three other farms for other individuals, maintaining them till they yielded profitable harvests.
In line with his belief that all good ideas must scale, Okorode Christian took on six mentees, and guided them through the process of establishing thriving plantain farms of their own. Satisfied with his progress, the farmer expanded into manufacturing, process his raw material (plantains) into a line of ready for the market plantain chips. He has also taken his ideas on the road with an inaugural agricultural summit held in August 2017 that had nearly 1000 attendees, who he encouraged to go out into the world and take the knowledge gleaned from the seminar to start farms of their own.
The Edwin George Prize for Photography
Tolani Alli (25)
How do you challenge yourself when your work has been featured in magazines like Essence Magazine, This Day, Ovation, All Nigerian Newspapers; you take on the challenge of exhibitions. Talented Nigerian born photographer Tolani Alli always wanted a camera, and began doing test shoots as soon as she got one. Tolani’s camera followed her to college, where she discovered documentary photography and the thrill of preserving important and seemingly mundane moments on camera. She began to work with several media publications within her campus, getting her photographs published in the University magazine. Before long she was being commissioned to shoot portraitures and documentary photography in her university and the world beyond.
In 2014, Tolani began to look to exhibitions as way to show projects that were intensely personal to her and couldn’t be sold. She exhibited them instead, participating in exhibitions in 2014, 15, 15 and 17, exhibiting ins paces that include Living in Lagos, The Art Fair and the Change Campaign. Tolanialli.com
Omoregie Osakpolor (27)
Documentary photography is an invaluable medium through which important stories can be told. Edwin George, the photographer for which this year’s award is named was an excellent documentary photographer, who found that sweet spot between portraying his subjects with as much honesty as possible without reducing them to props in a continuing exploitation of Africa’s poor for Western consumption. Gifted independent documentary photographer Osakpolor Omoregie’s work evokes the same level of involvement and empathy, his camera always trained on the subject in such a way that instead of a violation of their secret inner lives, it is an invitation to come partake. Osakpolor’s documentation of the coronation of the new Oba of Benin was a viral sensation and earned the respect of photography veterans.
Osakpolor is currently on the road, touring the country and working on two projects; a critical look at the decrepit Nigerian pension scheme, the human victims of the corruption and negligence that has crippled the scheme and the concessions they have had to make to survive. This first project, inspired by Osakpolor’s own retiree father brings home the fact that sometimes only personal involvement can keep a photographer honest on a project of this magnitude. The second, ‘The vulnerable ones’ touches stone with Edo states’ homeless children and the explosion of homelessness that has left more and more children at the mercy of a harsh, unforgiving world and predators. Osakpolor hopes the photographs he gets from this tour will remind us why it isn’t enough to have sympathy for others. That sympathy has to move to action, otherwise it is useless.
Yagazie Eguare (30)
One look at Yagazie Eguare’s photography website is enough to lure you in. Her journey into photography started at The Future Enterprise Support Scheme (TFESS) and since then, her career into the photography industry is admirable. There are many things that keep you interested, scrolling down as you notice wedding after wedding carefully curated and treated as the miracle that each union is. You notice that Eguare is a woman in photography, an industry where women are predominantly in front of the camera, posing for the male gaze. You see that the business that she has built is one that women in photography traditionally try to escape because of all the sentimentality and stereotyping that is attached to being a photographer who primarily documents weddings. Eguare doesn’t concern herself with that, her only preoccupations are with her craft and the couples for whom she preserves a most important memory.
Since Eguare started professionally documenting weddings as a Wedding documentary and portrait photographer in 2013, she has grown exponentially, photographing 100 weddings in 200 plus weeks and rebranding to better suit her new image as an in-demand photographer. Eguare’s secret is a respect for the specialness of the event she covers and a ready ear for the couple. She also has ready hands, facilitating photography lessons for prospective students in 2016 and 2017, invited as part of the much requested “BigH Photography Workshop” in Abuja, Nigeria.
Lakin Ogunbanwo (30)
Known for his ability to evoke nostalgia through his fashion and life photography, Lakin Ogunbanwo is one of the most sought after New Wave Nigerian photographers, expanding on the legend and expertise of previous generations. His portfolio includes editorials with Chimamanda Adichie for Riposte Magazine, work for the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.
Lakin Ogunbanwo has shot lookbooks for Maki-Oh, IAMISIGO and Kenneth Ize and Fashpa.com and magazine editorials for Genevieve Magazine, Naatal Media helmed by Helen Jennings and the South China Morning Post, British GQ, The Hibiscus Journal and I.D Magazine. He has also shot the campaign editorials for the Lagos Fashion and Design Week in 2014 and 2015.
Apart from his vast editorial work, Ogunbanwo has also exhibited his work in curated exhibitions, the first of which happened in Lagos. There have also been exhibitions in South Africa and South America, the most recent happening at the Maria De Andrade Library in Sao Paulo.
Over the last year Ogunbanwo has worked extensively, shooting the campaign ‘Style With Substance’ for the Nigerian luxury brand Polo Avenue and the campaign ‘Classics’ for successful chic brand CLAN, both earning him nominations in the best campaign category. He is also nominated as a fashion influencer for his extensive work in shaping the narrative of the New Nigerian fashion industry through his work and influence on designers, photographers and stylists; most notably enabling the trajectory of the careers of models Uju Marshall and Peter Finn.
Kadara Enyeasi (23)
When Kadara first decided he wanted to become a photographer, he was a student at Unilag rounding up his major. Convinced about his subject matter and medium but unable to find subjects to sit for his photographs, Enyeasi began to use himself as a ground zero subject, photographing a series of nude self-portraits that explore the intersection between sex and sexuality. Before long, Kadara’s unique take on the male form and his questions about identity were resounding enough to draw the attention of the European Art World which quickly cottoned to him. Four years after Enyeasi first exhibited, he has been made a FOAM talent and has been slated to show at UNSEEN, asides from a slew of exhibitions in his home country of Nigeria.
But Enyeasi hasn’t really gotten that warm homecoming that we believe his art deserves, our prudish culture unsure of what to do with art that involves the male form photograhed by a male photographer and completely devoid of the male gaze. There has been some speak about the European art critics who love Eneyasi’s work being drawn to it because of how Enyeasi depicts virile male sexuality, a concept that white western nationals have fetishized in the past and present. Enyeasi is currently exploring art in other mediums as well.
The Future Awards Africa Prize for Journalism
Nelly Ating (28)
Photojournalism, and the use of photography to enhance story telling is a genre that has gained increasing relevance, as journalism has grown. But as we are constantly saturated with images across platforms, it has become hard to jolt the reader out of their impassiveness, to get them to truly engage with the image before them, shed their detachment and feel to some capacity the emotions the journalist sought to capture and immortalize in film. Nelly Ating, a graduate of Journalism from the American University of Nigeria, Yola has a personal connection to the state of Adamawa, one of the states that suffered the most during the worst of the Boko Haram terrorist invasion. Ating was inspired to tell the story of the survivors of Boko Haram thanks to her time at AUN at the very beginning of the terrorist threat.
Since then, armed with her camera and her unique perspective on Yola before the crisis, Ating wades into the conflict’s hot zones to document the destruction that BokoHaram has wrought on Adamawa, Borno and the other states in which the terrorist had a presence. Her photography however primarily highlights the men, women and children who survived the Boko Haram scourge and are rebuilding their lives in its wake. She believes that giving them a voice through photography feels a little like empowering them to take on the new lives they have post B.H. assured their pasts are not forgotten and their stories don’t remain untold.
For it is not enough to document the lives of these children whose lives were upended by Bokoharam. She uses the attention she brings them to seek funding for their education. Rescuing them for menial labour and ensuring they are fostered by loving families.
Her latest project is to provide clean water for a community called Yokassala Sullabauua, a settlement of internally displaced persons from Yobe, Borno, and Adamawa States. The community is without a single electricity pole in sight, drinking water is sourced from a puddle, the nearest accessible health care facility miles away – welcome to Yokassala Sullabauua.
Her work has received support from both local and international agencies and has been featured by top Nigerian dailies and blogs: CNN, Premium Times, Vanguard, Thisday.
Ms Ating has spent most of her adult life exploring Nigeria through adventurous road trip experience. Wherever there is a story, she is available to tell these stories through her lens.
Ayodeji Rotinwa (27)
Many people first discovered Ayodeji Rotinwa earlier this year when he was invited to curate for the ‘Nigeria’ twitter handle. A new-fangled handle that had drawn attention (and some ire), Rotinwa ability to straddle the line between professionalism and enthusiasm was instantly recognizable and endeared him to many. It is this paradox that distinguishes Rotinwa from his contemporaries and informs his work as a Writer and art curator. He has spent the last five years perfecting his voice, and lending it, when needed to the causes he believes in.
His unalloyed commentary on the state of the Nigerian art scene and his hands-on approach to changing this paid off when he was invited to help curate the Nigerian contingent invited to show the 2017 Venice Biennale, an honour that becomes even more impressive when you consider that Rotinwa is only in his 20’s. His portofolio as a writer is just as impressive; Rotinwa has written for, edited and managed media platforms across print, digital and broadcast media. His insightful if sometimes cutting profiles, interviews and essays have become the rare fruit, worth the wait.
Earlier in the year Rotinwa was invited by accountability platform BudgIT to join their data and investigative journalism residency, focused on sustainable development. Expected from his time there is work, insightful and uncluttered by personal affiliation and corporate threatening. We’d be delighted to see where this new phase takes him. Rotinwa sits on the Board of Advisors for Skills Outside School Foundation, a non-profit body that builds human capital, upskilling and providing career guidance to young students.
Eromo Egbejule (27)
The name Eromo Egbejule has become somewhat synonymous with in-depth, exhaustive journalism in Nigeria, a feat in a country run over with copy and paste gossip bloggers regurgitating unverified gossip for a quick payout. Egbejule has earned that association, he is unafraid to travel into the heart of conflict for a story but is just as much at ease chasing down the history behind illusive Nigerian vinyl records.
In 2016, his article “Streams of Fortune: How Indigenous Firms are Working to Make Music Streaming Mainstream in Nigeria” was nominated for the Maggie Eales Young Journalist Award at the 2015 CNN Africa Journalist Award, underlining just how much ground Egbejule had covered for 26 year old journalist operating primarily out of Nigeria. But it is ground he has covered because of his integrity and a drive to not just follow the story but find the humanity in the most inhuman of circumstances. Egbejule’s reporting which has earned him international acclaim and by-lines in some of the world’s most respected news publications has always been tempered with empathy and that empathy has allowed him access to places where others wouldn’t dare to tread.
Egbejule’s coverage of the Boko Haram crisis and the people whose lives were and continue to suffer in its wake, helped shift the narrative around the crisis and dispel much of the fear fuelled bigotry that had come to characterize the responses from Nigerians in other parts of the country. Egbejule is only at the beginning of what will become a long, decorated career and we hope his brand of journalism becomes a beacon that goes viral.
Mayowa Tijani (27)
Mayowa Tijani, staff writer and columnist at The Cable, Is a 29 year old young journalist and writer. Tijani was shortlisted for his four-part series, Tears from Rann, which shed light on the plight of the victims of a military “accidental bombing of civilians” in Rann, a town in Borno state, the centre stage of insurgency in Nigeria. Within two years of joining TheCable, he was nominated for the 2016 PwC awards in SME and Tax reporting and ended up as a runner-up in both categories. In 2017, he was named on the best team of the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa (BMIA) cohort three.
Tijani maintains a weekly column at TheCable, which further focuses on national development. His works have been quoted by many national and international media houses, including International Business Times and the BBC.
By 2016, he was nominated for the 2016 PwC awards in SME and Tax reporting and ended up as a runner-up in both categories. In 2017, he was named on the best team of the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa (BMIA) cohort three as well as winning The UK Government’s 2017 Chevening Scholarship. He is also a freelance journalist for the Sahara Reporters.
Tijani is a budding world-class Journalist, with flexibility and adaptability in the corporate world as an asset; a competent communicator par excellence, an ardent team player who is reliable, hardworking and honest, who through outstanding journalistic practice, develops excellent journalistic skill and speak with the varying confidence in the voices of the people, helping the society attain equity and justice.
Oladeinde Olawoyin (29)
Journalism is a precarious place to exist in as an empath. Above all traits, a journalist is expected work with a sense of detachment from his/her subject, a removal from the intensely personal lives of the subjects of every news story, and an obligation to report the facts as they occur, without bias or sentiment. But it is sentiment, or at least one in particular that moves the journalist to go into the world and seek out the stories untold and tell them. It is at least what has defined the career of ace journalist and all Oladeinde Olawoyin and distinguished him from the morass that Nigerian journalism can be.
Olawoyin began his career as a journalist at the Premium Times, covering their financial beat as a business/economy correspondent, a step up from his job as editor of the department of Mass communications internally published newspaper The Unilorin Watch, at the University of Ilorin. But Oladeinde understands that for any story, even one as maudlin as the economy simply needs an empathic human angle for an audience to see themselves in it. As such Olawoyin has dedicated his career to crafting well documented investigations into the human stories behind the big economic news. He highlighted the plight of poor traders bullied by the Lagos state government, explored what it means to live as a handicapped person in Lagos and demystified dyslexia as it relates to young creatives. At the very begining of his career, Olawoyin is already taking names and seeking justice.
The Future Awards Africa Prize for On Air Personality (visual)
Harry Itie (28)
Harry Itie often jokes that if he wanted money, he would have taken a bank job. But Itie is in love with the camera and the entire process of creating content for and touching lives through television. A graduate of mass communication from Covenant University, Itie has created a reputation for himself as a renowned entertainment journalist, pop culture commentator. He has worked long term with TVC, hosting a number of its entertainment segments and shows, and garnering fans across the continent thanks to the channel’s broadcast deal with cable provider DSTV.
Harry currently hosts the entertainment programme E-Splash and has had a thriving career in podcasting and on Youtube running the Harry Minute. Harry has also covered major events, including the Lagos countdown and the Lagos Carnival.
Olive Emodi (28)
Not many people can say Richard Mofe-Damijo was instrumental to their present success in their chosen careers, albeit indirectly. When Olive Emordi decided to enter the Delta Talent Quest Acting Reality TV organized when Mofe-Damijo was commissioner of Culture and Tourism, she’d already built a thriving career as an event host and model. She went on to win the entire thing in 2011, kick-starting a career that has expanded to including radio and television hosting, the literary arts, acting and law, her first love.
Winning meant she became an unofficial mascot for the state government, acting as compere for a number of their events. She took a short hiatus to attend law school, after which she began a career with Cool TV, fronting a number of high profile shows including the Good Morning Nigeria Show, The coveted Late Night Show and Padi Padi on Wazobia TV, reaching audiences that otherwise might have0 been left out. Emordi has become an instantly recognisable face on television and a familiar voice on radio, and a talent to follow.
Adesewa Josh (32)
To have the ear of 20 million Africans across the continent and in the diaspora is no mean feat. But Adesewa Josh manages this, a position as a news outlet producer at TRT World Istanbul producing a daily news broadcast, script writing for its segments and producing live interviews and managing a team of reporters and producers with surprising ease. This is why it comes as little surprise that she was invited by the United Nations in 2016 to host the UNTV programme for Africa, ‘21st Century’ alongside living legend Angelique Kidjo. At 21st Century Josh covered many of the stories from Africa underreported by Western media, providing a valuable insight and much needed context to these stories. It is important to note that John is the first Nigerian to be given this honour.
Adesewa Josh cut her teeth as a fledgling reporter at Channels TV, and in 2017, with her incredible workload, John still managed to squeeze in a Master’s degree in politics and global affairs from the Columbia school of Journalism in 2017. In her personal time, john manages Project Smile Africa, a non-profit she founded to provide education and assistance to rural underprivileged girls. She also lends her time to Talk2UrTeens, a non-profit geared towards ending teen pregnancy.
Nancy Isime (25)
When Nancy Isime was first told of the on-going screen tests for Hip TV’s hit show “Trending”, she was already working for another television station and cutting her teeth in film and digital media. She had a lot on her plate but Isime went anyway, and after one test was offered the job. Isime has quickly become one of the most readily recognizable faces on television, valued for her quick wit and her dexterity while drawing out her guests and getting them comfortable in front of a camera. Skills that become extra valuable when Isime has to work a camera either as an actress in one of the feature films she is attached to, or as an in-demand actress on the small screen.
Whatever Isime does, she excels in. We cannot wait to see where she takes Hip TV’s Trending and how she rephrases the conversations around it after so many years.
Idia Aisen (26)
Many people might not know this but Idia Aisien, Spice TV’s most instantly recognizable front woman began her career in fashion as an international fashion model based in the US. All of that time in front of cameras working for international brands like Black Opal, Iniva, BMW and the J Brand must have been ample preparation for her turn as television host, as well as her previous television stints with Fox 5 News, the AARP Foundation, Discovery Foundation. However, as Spice TV’s host of Hot or Not, Idia Aisien has become an arbiter of sorts of the Nigerian fashion industry, taking a role similar to the one Joan Rivers made a staple of entertainment television with her Fashion Police show, and infusing it with some empathy.
Asides from hosting studio scripted shows, Idia Aisien has become a regular on Nigerian red carpets, either hosting red carpet interview shows or slaying the carpets herself as an invited guest and fashion it-girl. As a repatriate, Aisien’s success is not all that surprising, however the grace with which she has navigated the success, remaining humble and accessible is admirable.
The Future Awards Africa Prize for On Air Personality (audio)
Rosemary Ajuka (27)
The first time Rosemary Ajuka first went on Radio, it was during her student years at the University of Awka. It was brief, this first taste of radio journalism, at the Awka branch of Silverbird’s Rhythm FM as a co-host of the ‘Afternoon Drive’ and ‘Ladies Night Out’ shows. But that one brush was enough to stir something deep inside her, a longing for the thrill of having her voice heard by thousands of complete stranger, for the quiet knowledge that she could become a familiar voice in their cars and living rooms. She decided during a holiday visit to Germany to train as a Music Mixologist with Party 93.4, an online radio station based in New York and began to build her signature radio persona behind the nick name Chilli.
‘Chilli’s Flip Side’, Ajuka’s show with Party 93.4 was focused on promoting African music and culture to western audiences and bringing news from to Nigerians in the diaspora. She returned to Nigeria, worked briefly with Wave FM in Port Harcourt hosting her own show called ‘Sister City’ which focused on empowering and celebrating the achievements of women in community development. After service year, she joined Nigerian Info FM in Abuja, working there till President Buhari was elected in 2015. Post elections, she moved to Lagos and joined Cool FM, where she now hosts Sunday Chill Out Zone With Chilli as well as Good Morning Nigeria Show both on Cool Fm 96.9 Lagos Nigeria. Ajuka is a literacy advocate and is currently a literacy ambassador for AYECI Nigeria. She is also an avid advocate for issues concerning women and girls.
Tisan Jeremiah Bako (28)
There have been many milestones in Jeremiah Tisan Bako career as a on-air radio personality. Raised in Sokoto, Kaduna and Lagos, Bako travelled around a bit, orienting himself with the country before settling down in Abuja where he took a job at DAAR communications Raypower FM Abuja, hosting their evening ‘Drive Time’ show.
Tisan Bako’s voice has become instantly recognizable to evening commuters who rely on him to provide them news, information, music and companionship as they return home from their diverse days and he has become so good at his job that he is often the only On-Air personality out of Northern Nigeria to be constantly rewarded for his excellent work as a presenter in National and International entertainment awards. He has been nominated thrice for the Nigerian Broadcasters Merit award in 2014 and 2015, winning once, and has been nominated for the Nigerian Entertainment Awards in 2015 and 2016 winning once as well.
He is an alumnus of the Radio Netherlands Training Centre where he majored on using media to counter radicalization. He is one of the founding members of JAR (journalist against radicalization) a group of international journalists with passion for counter radicalization and radical ideologies using counter narrative with multimedia tools.
Ayeni Adu (31)
Ayeni Adu might be known now for his career as an on-air radio personality but just a decade ago, his interests were vastly different. He spent roughly nearly a decade in the University of Ilorin studying to become a doctor with a specialization in paediatrics, a gruelling exercise for anyone. After his graduation it seems Adu needed to find a new outlet for his creativity because he immediately started a Gravitas Media, an online digital media consulting firm that caters to clients looking for remote management for their online platforms.
It was under this umbrella that Adu began work as the creative director for Rhema Radio, an online radio station operating out of Los Angeles, California. It was there he cut his teeth in media and learned the ropes of handling a radio programme. Eventually in 2016, he left Rhema to take a job at Megalectrics Ltd, the parent company under which Classic FM, Beat Fm and Nigeria info operate. Adu is the voice of Lagos talks and has become a household name on Lagos radio.
Toyin Eleniyan (31)
Sports broadcasting can be a pretty foreboding place for women, especially in light of all the allegations that have surfaced in recent weeks about the enduring sexual harassment women endure from men who feel entitled to their time, attention and bodies simply because they have chosen to make way for themselves in spaces traditionally considered as male. But it is important that women do invade these spaces and prove once and for all that sports broadcasting is not gender based or biased to any one particular gender Toyin Eleniyan, otherwise known as Toyin of Life, is one of the few instantly recognisable women in sports journalism. The Super Sports presenter has made a name for herself in the field thanks to her enthusiasm, her unrivalled encyclopaedic knowledge of the sports which she covers and her willingness to promote and advocate for women in sports, in the booth and on the field.
Thanks to her spot-on analysis and her amiable delivery, sports radio is a little less misogynistic and exclusionary towards women.
Irabor Okosun (29)
Okosun Irabor isn’t the kind of man to brag, except when the subject matter is marketing and strategy. When Irabor founded his company, The Join The Cast Initiative, he had one goal in mind, helping companies develop programmes that would help them contribute positively to the communities in which they operated while helping them achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). By taking the work out of the hands of the companies and helping them implement their programmes from conception to final execution, Irabor provides a much needed service while staying true to his personal ideals of sustainable development.
Join The Cast has amassed an impressive roster of partners and clients that include but are not limited to Access Bank, GlaxoSmithKline, FAN Milk, May and Baker, Good Knight Insecticides, Super Sport, Ebony Life TV, Cool FM, Smooth FM, Rhythm FM. By providing them the opportunity to ‘adopt’ and sponsor sustainable development programmes like HIV/AIDS outreaches, and utilizing the power of digital media platforms and social media channels, Irabor drums up support for projects, promotes the companies that fund these projects and impacts on the lives of the recipients of these projects. Join The Cast ensures that everyone wins in the end. He also hosts two live Independent radio shows that revolve around his personal interests in film and in-depth discussions; @movieroadshow and @talktv247 on radio.
The Future Awards Africa Prize for Young Person of the Year
Iyin Aboyeji (26)
Flutterwave seems an ironic name for the business that has made Iyin Aboyeji sit still for the last two years. It is also ironic considering that Flutterwave, Aboyeji’s answer to the age old Nigerian problem of transacting electronic business in a country where nothing seems to work recently won the highly coveted Fintech Award at the 2017 Apps Africa digital innovation awards. Not bad for a digital payments platform/startup that was created with the primary reason of easing transactions in local businesses. Like most businesses in Nigeria, innovation is pushed by inaccessibility and conflict.
Perhaps it was conflict that made Aboyeji move back to Nigeria from Canada after creating Bookneto, his answer to online learning with as minimal glitches as possible. After he was bought out by the Canadian Innovation Centre, he took his things and returned to Nigeria. He tried some ill-fitting businesses and had to abandon the highly potentialed “Fora”, a potential online learning platform that devolved into a sales store for online courses.
Andela, a talent accelerator was the thing that really put him on the map, that and his insistence to make it on his own terms. Funding came for Andela from Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook himself and after a personal visit by Zuckerberg himself, Aboyeji knew it was time for Andela to find its footing without him at the helm and left to focus on Flutterwave. The rest they say is history.
Ayodeji ‘Whizkid’ Balogun (27)
It is somewhat redundant at this point to say that Wizkid Balogun has had a great year. In fact, you wouldn’t be remiss to say that Wizkid has had a great decade, consistently growing as an artist since his debut in 2008 and championing the cause for Nigerian Afro-pop in global spheres. In 2016, he was one of a handful of Nigerian artists to sign major publishing deals with international music giant Sony RCA records, and not long after he went on to record the biggest song of 2016 alongside Canadian mega star Drake and asian pop star Kyla. One Dance shattered billboard records and gave Wizkid his first Grammy nomination as well as several billboard awards.
Riding on the success of his collaboration with Drake and the international attention it brought him, Wizkid collaborated with a whole roster of international artists before bringing Drake to feature on his debut single as an international recording artist for “Come Closer”, which recently went gold in the United Kingdom. Wizkid’s 2017 album under RCA records “Sounds from the Other Side” was well received by international music critics and charted favourably across the world. Building on that success he was recently nominated for Best International and Best African act at the 2017 Europe Music Awards, and he returned to Nigeria in November to receive the award for best male artist at the Africa wide Afrimma awards. Adored by his Nigerian fans and steadily gaining ground internationally, Wizkid proves that you can come from Ojuelegba and conquer the world.
Silas Adekunle (25)
I strongly believe that when it comes to STEM or teaching, the most important thing is to first capture the imagination of the students and then their curiosity,” Silas Adekunle, co-founder and CEO of Reach Robotics, a U.K.-based startup that combines robotics with AR in the gaming space, told me. “AR has so much potential to make classrooms more interactive and engaging, with new ways to visualize complex information.
With a four-legged-span of around 30cm square and around 15cm in height, these robots can walk, crawl, shoot, spin, bow, dance and ‘die,’ with appropriate and functional animations. With interest from kids as much as bedroom hackers, Reach Robotics plans to offer varied levels of access to the hardware, from simple pick up and play, dual on-screen stick controls, to much more-in depth customisation for those more interested in the mechanical side of things.
In our engineering-level demo, we were shown the ability to adjust limb speed, height, angle, spread, as well as step height and length, meaning you can make your MekaMon move exactly how you want it to if you fancy playing around with all of the options.
Amaka Osakwe (30)
To know Maki O is to know Lagos.
The age of Instagram has offered us an incredible resource, the lives and work of thousands of creatives from all disciplines and walks of life to draw inspiration from. It has also diluted our sense of what is Nigerian, constantly chipping away at the carefully crafted history that has been fed down to us. As a designer, Amaka Osakwe’s Maki Oh is always treading that thin line between enlightenment and blasphemy, but somehow always coming away from the tight rope with such an acute observation of Life in Nigeria, viewed especially through the lens of the 20 something year old, slightly bohemian, western influenced Nigerian woman.
There are only a handful of Nigerian designers whose work is unapologetically Nigerian. There are even fewer whose work captures the contemporary lives of young millennial lagosians, looking for meaning in the chaos of Third Mainland Bridge traffic, codeswitching our way through social circles and ending our days with endless nights seeking love in it’s brightly lit watering holes. Amaka Osakwe, creative director of Nigerian design label Maki Oh is our rosetta stone. Over her six year career, she has created a storied legacy, an in of sorts for foreigners looking to embrace something other than themselves and for us, a way to wear our idiosyncrasies as proudly as the ‘Ehn’ emblazoned across silk skirts.
Mary ‘Remmy’ Njoku (32)
Mary Remmy Njoku is best known as a producer for Festac Town, her twelve episode, one season series that aired on Rok TV. For that film Remmy-Njoku drew on her childhood at Amuwo-Odofin, and her experiences at Navy town secondary school to craft characters that reflected a microcosm of Lagos so acute in its depiction, years later fans are still asking for a second season. This is the magic of Mary Remmy-Njoku, every single time she has been tossed aside, counted out, marginalized, she has risen up from the ashes and proven herself ten times more resourceful, more resilient and more innovative than anyone else on the scene.
Remmy-Njoku had had a decent run in Hollywood and make her mark on the iconic Black Berry Bases when she decided she wanted to transition into producing in 2013, not long after she, her husband and Bastian Gotter started Spark, a $2 million company dedicated to financing Nigerian tech innovation. She went to the London Film School while pregnant with her first child. After she finished, She launched Rok studios, creating her first batch of films with a $25,000 grant. It took her a handful of years to transform Rok to one of the most influential film production companies, with its own dedicated cable network and one of the largest content libraries in Nigeria. Remmy-Njoku launched Rok TV in Africa and the UK under the DSTV and SKY cable networks, expanding her access to millions of Africans at home and in the diaspora. Mary Remmy’s Rok TV on British cable network SKY started to make profit in just six months of operations, providing the much needed revenue to launch Rok TV on the continent. Njoku’s Rok TV has also gone to great lengths to cultivate new talent, casting relatively unknown actors in many of her films as a way to consolidate their portfolios.
She is easily one of the most powerful Nigerian women in film today.