Africans who made TIME’s 100 Most Influential People 2021
By Chad Williams 2021
Cape Town – American news magazine TIME on Wednesday released its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world this year, with several African game-changers making the prestigious list.
These are the Africans, either born on, or with roots to the continent, that made the cut for 100 Most Influential People 2021.
1. Director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Nigeria’s Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation was named alongside world leaders like United States President, Joe Biden, and Chinese President, Xi Jinping. Earlier this year, Okonjo-Iweala made history by becoming the first woman and first African selected to head up the WTO.
2. Benin singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo
Four-time Grammy Award winner Kidjo is one of the greatest artists in international music today, a creative force with thirteen albums to her name. TIME has called her “Africa’s premier diva”.
3. Senegalese scholar and writer Felwine Sarr
According to TIME, Sarr and Bénédicte Savoy have made a critical contribution to restitution. Their much discussed “Sarr-Savoy Report,” commissioned by French President Emmanuel Macron and published in 2018 stands as a testament to the fight against colonial legacies of violence, the magazine said.
4. Kenyan environmental activist Phyllis Omido
The only East African on the list, Omido who is considered the ‘Erin Brockovich’ of the region won a court ruling in 2020 that awarded $12m to a community poisoned by lead pollution from a nearby factory located in the middle of Owino Uhuru, a slum near Mombasa.
5. Ugandan-British actor Daniel Kaluuya
Kaluuya won his first Academy Award this year for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’, according to Forbes magazine.
6. French Actor Omar Sy
The French actor, both of whose parents are immigrants from West Africa, stars in the Netflix series Lupin, in which he plays a master of disguise. According to fellow actor Bradley Actor, Omar has all the ingredients and skill to be able to do anything—produce, direct, etc.—and to do it with an open and generous heart, TIME reported.
7. South African-born entrepreneur Elon Musk
Tesla CEO Musk is the founder, CEO and chief engineer at SpaceX and early stage investor, CEO and product architect of Tesla. SpaceX and its civilian crew made history with their successful launch recently, which will see the Inspiration4, an ongoing human spaceflight mission, spend the next three days orbiting Earth, according to Fox Business.
8. Cameroonian virologist John Nkengasong
Nkengasong is the director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. He has previously worked at the World Health Organization and the United Staets Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He played a pivotal role during the Covid-19 pandemic and Africa’s response. Nkengasong was appointed the WHO special envoy for Africa.
9. Ethiopia-born Entrepreneur and the CEO of Gro Intelligence Sara Menker
Apart from being the boss of Gro Intelligence, a company which has developed the world’s most extensive agriculture data platform, Menker is a trustee of the Mandela Institute for Development Studies and was elected one of the World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders.
TIME divides its list of 100 most influential people into six separate categories: Icons, Pioneers, Titans, Artists, Leaders and Innovators.
African News Agency (ANA)