With each year, it becomes clearer to the editorial board at YNaija, the premium our annual New Establishment list places on the work of young emerging players in diverse field within Nigeria. Providing that first wave of recognition for the work that the men and women of our annual lists do in the communities is important for their growth and for our commitment to support innovation, courage and personal excellence. Many of the alumni of our lists have gone on to do fantastic things, proving yet again, that our lists sieve through the morass of activity and nepotism that clog our creative industries and highlights the hiddens gems within.
Quddus King (Grand Master King)
Asides from the often bandied inside joke about Quddus King bearing a close resemblance to Nollywood actor Tony Umez, little is known about the wunderkind behind many of the sleeper hits from what is today referred to as the core of the Nigerian Alte scene (Odunsi The Engine, Santi/Ozzy B). The producer is responsible for many of the distinctive traits of the current alternative sound and has been working on projects for many of the alternative artists including BOJ DRB. He has also released a number of personal projects including a 2018 EP, all while studying medicine full time abroad.
In 2018, GMK was conscripted by the Universal Music Group Nigeria to mix and master Odunsi The Engine’s debut album rare. The album would turn out to be a critical success, winning over many of the artist’s critics who worried their very unique sound wouldn’t survive the transition into popular music. GMK’s expertise as a producer and sound engineer continue to speak for him in the industry and guarantee that he will be a part of the conversation for a long time.
Ade Laoye (Knockout Blessing)
Ade Laoye’s first big break as an actress came on the Ebony Life TV’s soap serial Dow.ry. It was one of many ‘breakout’ roles for Laoye, who has proven time and again that she is a true acting chameleon, taking on different roles and contorting herself to express the complexities and layers of the characters she is tasked to portray. But she has also struggled to break into the mainstream, restricted by Nollywood’s preoccupation with typecasting and the Nigerian TV audiences’ paradoxical aversion to and fascination with actors with a distinctly western accent.
When the first trailers for Dare Olaitan’s Knockout Blessing were released to the internet, they teased a side of Laoye her audience had never seen, and she did deliver, on a career-defining performance that saw her shed all the markers that have come to define her as an actress and truly lose herself in someone else’s story. We are truly excited about this new phase of Ade Laoye’s evolution as an actor and curious to see where it will take her.
Killer Tunes (music)
There are few events as aspirational in the entertainment industry as a comeback. When Killer Tunes left Benin City to start his career as a music producer in Lagos, he came with the same promise of success that inspires millions of young Nigerian to make the move. As one of the first producers to popularize the ‘free beats’ phenomenon, Killer Tunes is one of the pioneers of the explosion of independent music.
Active since 2011, it took a collaboration with Dj Spinall in 2017 to reintroduce him to the music industry and Nigeria’s massive Afrobeats audience as a veteran ready to make a second stab at mainstream success. In 2018, he truly came into his own, engineering the hit success ‘Fake Love’ by Wizkid and Duncan Mighty, the song that would begin the veteran Port Harcourt singer’s own come back. Songs like ‘Nowo’, ‘Baba’ and ‘Free Me’ by Major Lazer, Rudimental and Anne Marie, all international stars in their own right.
Killer Tunes is only beginning this new reign and he has no plans of slowing down.
Sess The Prblm Kid (music)
Sess The Prblm Kid has been making music for a few years, but he did not come to play in 2018. Touting 2018 as his breakout year, Sess began enlisting musicians, artists and other producers to work on his debut solo project, Omo Muda, an amalgamation of all the influences and ideas he had toyed with since he first gained recognition for his ground-breaking work on Falz The Bahd Guy’s debut album, Stories That Touch. Omo Muda was released to critical acclaim and commercial success, cementing Sess’s place as an artist on the rise and one of the country’s most prolific producers.
Sess is the brain behind the sound on all of Falz’s albums, a collaboration that has seen him nominated for several awards. He surprised everyone in 2018 when he produced not one but two major soundtrack songs for some the year’s biggest films, first the Reminisce and Adekunle Gold helmed ‘Original Gangster’ for the Kemi Adetiba film King of Boys, and ‘Who’s your daddy’ performed by Falz for Mo Abudu’s Chief Daddy.
From floating his own label to releasing his debut project and conquering film; who has had a better year that Sess the Prblm Kidd, we’d like to meet them.
Teni The Entertainer (music)
Teni Apata’s rise to the top of the Nigerian music industry is the kind of fairytale we scarcely allow ourselves to indulge in. While still in University, Teni began to busk around her university, preparing herself for a career in entertainment. After signing with producer Shizzi’s Magic Fingers Entertainment, she released her debut single ‘Amen’, which was a decent debut but didn’t really break the singer into the public’s consciousness.
What would eventually do this was Teni The Entertainer’s inimitable savvy with social media. Refusing to conform to the sexist expectations for women in the Nigerian music industry, Teni chose instead to express herself through Instagram, releasing funny commentary on her personal life and singing freestyles for her growing fanbase. One of those freestyles, about the predatory nature of older men in the country, quickly went viral, spawning a push that saw Teni switch labels to Dr. Dolor Entertainment and release the freestyle as ‘Fargin’, her first single with the new label. ‘Fargin’ became an instant hit and started the wave of interest that would peak with her winning the SoundCity MVP Awards Rookie of the year over Peruzzi.
Teni The Entertainer is important to the Nigerian music industry and youth culture as a whole, because she subverts the gender standards placed on women as a pre-requisite for success. She is the start of a new and much needed wave of the craft superseding marketing and societal expectations.
Hannah Remi Oghene
When Hannah Remi Oghene returned to Nigeria after earning a degree in Art Management from the prestigious Cambridge University, she took in the current state of Nigerian art curation, management and exhibition, first as a casual observer, then as a Development Assistant at the African Arts Foundation, mentoring under the revered art curator and critic Azu Nwagbogu. After her time with AAF and a couple of freelance opportunities curating exhibitions at the National Museum Onikan and LaFarge Africa, Oghene decided it was time to strike out on her own.
She became the gallery manager at MyDrim Gallery in January 2018, a pedigreed Nigerian gallery with 25 years of experience and a seasoned clientele of collectors and veteran artists. Her position at MyDrim is ground-breaking because she is one of the youngest curators to ever manage a gallery of this scale and pedigree and through her position was able to influence significant change in how exhibitions were organized, opening avenues for younger artists to reach new audiences. Hannah Oghene is a trailblazer in the visual arts and proof that there is more than one way to change the industry.
Emil Garuba (Lionheart)
In 2018, Nollywood’s biggest film was a surprise hit from an actress that many had all but ruled out. LionHeart was such an cinematic triumph that it was snatched up by movie and television giant Netflix for an impressive $3.8 million and returned Ms. Nnaji to the conversation about the future of Nollywood. And the film was a success in large parts to the stellar writing of screen, director and producer, Emil B Garuba.
This wasn’t Emil’s first time of making magic with Genevieve Nnaji either. Garuba co-wrote Road To Yesterday, Geneveive seminal project and has worked on other award winning projects including the AFRIFF winner Silent Tears and the long standing Africa Magic soap opera Tinsel. He was also a major screenwriter for Son of the Caliphate, one of the first soap operas from a major Nigerian media company to focus on Nothern Nigeria. Garuba runs Rated E Productions, his own own production company where he develops film and television projects.
Bunmi Ajakaiye (Anthill Studios)
Few women have been as prolific behind the lens in Nollywood in the last few years as Bunmi Ajakaiye. The self-taught director transitioned into film after a stint working in media at Hello Nigeria and joined Anthill studios in 2014 where she learned the ropes under director Niyi Akinmolayan. With sufficient grit and an unshakeable will, Ajakaiye began to take on projects, working on successful films like My Wife and I with Omoni Oboli and The Arbitration.
But Bunmi really became the darling of Nollywood when she was conscripted to take on the directing of Nigeria’s most endearing web soap, Ndani TV’s Skinny Girl In Transit. Under Ajakaiye’s seasoned hand, the show veered away from its bubble gum aesthetic, tackling more realistic issues like blended families, personal trauma and how it affects relationships and even the friction that can come in sibling relationships when the dynamics of those relationships are threatened. The show’s increased fandom is testament to the great work that Ajakaiye is doing and the story she has the range to tell. We cannot wait to see what she does next.
Lota Chukwu (film)
Lota Chukwu became 2018’s breakout television star when she won a leading role in Africa Magic’s epic soap opera Ajoche, but her star had been on the rise long before that. Chukwu first gained the attention of the Nigerian film-loving public when she became a series regular on the much beloved Funke Akindele comedy soap ‘Jenifa’s Diaries’ as Kiki.
Lota Chukwu’s first big role came in the independent film ‘The Arbitration’ alongside Adesua Etomi and since then she has appeared in ‘The Royal Hibiscus Hotel’ and ‘Dognapped’. Able to convey a spectrum of emotion with minimal and best suited for long form, Chukwu’s ability to endear an audience to a character has distinguished from the new class of film starlets bursting onto the scene and distinguished her as one to watch.
Michael ‘Psalmist’ Akinrogunde (film)
Film in Nigeria has long suffered from an acute shortage of directors. Directors are the very soul of any project, translating the ideas of the scriptwriters and drawing out inspired performances from the cast and crew. When Michael Akinrogunde was chosen to participate in the 2017 Accelerate TV Filmmaker Project, it was because he had shown he had that spark that makes a great producer, he only need a platform to prove it. With funding from Access Bank, Akinrogunde created ‘Penance’ the short film that would introduce him to the Nigerian film industry and earn him a coveted nomination for Best Short Film at the 2018 Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards.
What no one expected was that Akinrogunde would actually win the award and become one of the youngest awardees of the honour. ‘Psalmist’ as he prefers to be called, understand the power of storytelling and has created films for the non-profit festival We Are Water, run by UNICEF and ROCA, a competition where his film was shortlisted for the final, the only Nigerian to achieve that in his year. Psalmist is also a motivated social justice activist, partnering with the Youth Bridge Foundation funded by the Open Society initiative of West Africa (OSIWA) to create Puzzled, a drama targeted towards the education of at-risk teens.
Film has the power to save and transform and Michael ‘Psalmist’ Akinrogunde is a modern-day super hero.
Dare Olaitan (film)
When Dare Olaitan put out his seminal project ‘Ojukokoro’, no one knew what to expect of it. New Nollywood was beginning to gain traction both online and in cinemas but it seemed filmmakers who defined this new epoch were struck in a creative rut that saw them sending recycled versions of 90’s Hollywood plots or low hanging comedies that demanded nothing of their audiences. With his debut film, Olaitan promised and made good on his promise to expand the canon of what was possible in Nollywood.
‘Ojukokoro’, while heavily inspired by pulp fiction action thrillers and the cerebral work of Quentin Tarantino, stayed in touch with the director’s very Nigerian heritage. The film was critically received, making a decent run in Nigerian cinemas and introducing Olaitan to a wider audience and the recognition and respect for his peers.
Since the success of ‘Ojukokoro’ (including a limited release in New York) Olaitan has thrown himself headlong into directing, creating series for online media enterprise Ndani TV and releasing his sophomore project, ‘Knockout Blessing’, which builds on his penchant for layered crime thrillers. He has become an important part of the movement advocating for younger directors and filmmakers to be given career defining projects to helm. Not bad for the guy who left a degree in business to pursue his passion for film.
Ema Edosio (film)
When Ema Edosio began work on what would become Kasala!, she was motivated by the simple fact that there were simply no spaces for young female directors without the privilege of a well-known family name or an extensive social network. But Edosio was not going to allow anything deter her from making her films. Edosio left positions as a stringer for the BBC and head of video content at Konbini Nigeria to pursue her dream of making a feature debut project.
Kasala! proved to be greater than the sum of its parts and helped spotlight the careers of its relatively unknown cast. Working entirely with a relatable story that centred Lagos and didn’t exaggerate its poverty or grit, Edosio tells a compelling story about motivations, LGBT representation and how Lagos itself is a sentient, active participant in the lives of its residents. Edosio’s daring was rewarded with invitations to show the film at 30 international film festivals, several dozen awards including the Africa International Film Festival’s Jury Award prize for best film.
Edosio has become an important part of the conversation for more visibility for female filmmakers and is a star to watch in the coming years.
Benita Nnachortam (Visual arts, Kuta Nigeria)
Shattering glass ceilings is something Benita Nnachortam has become quite comfortable with over the last few years. She is the first female photographer to officially document the tenure of an Ogun State governor,a feat that becomes even more impressive considering Nnachortam is Igbo. But the true scope of her impact on the arts and creativity in Ogun state cannot be understood without looking at the work she has done with Kuta Nigeria.
Creating an Arts Community in the heart of Abeokuta has provided a safe space for young people in Ogun interested in the arts to explore their interests without fear of being ostracized or being limited by financial and creative constraints. Nnachortam through Kuta Nigeria created a multidisciplinary space called the NEST, where young creatives can meet up and share ideas. Through Kuta’s volunteer service, young residents of Abeokuta have found opportunities for volunteer for events like the TEDx IBara. Nest also offers short residencies to artists looking to leave the familiarity of their home cities and create.
Benita Nnachortam is proving that Art and creativity need not be centralized in megacities like Lagos but can thrive everywhere.
Tony Ola (Art Bridge)
In Tony Ola’s second year studying at the University of Lagos, he decided to open a second Instagram account. This one he dedicated to his growing interest in the Nigerian art scene and focused on documenting the work of young artists within in his school and Nigeria at large. As Tony Ola documented, his interest in art grew beyond a passing fancy to an all-consuming passion, one he nurtured by taking internships with Bukola Oyebode of art magazine The Sole Adventurer and the curatorial team at gallery Art Twenty One. Five years later, Tony Ola has grown to become one of the most enterprising young art curators working in Nigeria today and proof that interest can grow into expertise with diligence.
Tony Ola started The Art Bridge Project in 2017, his own personal contribution to arts in the country, with the focus on creating opportunities for young art enthusiasts and emerging artists to connect with established and veteran artists away from the sterility of art gallery presentations and exhibitions. He has also been instrumental to many of 2018’s most important art events, working with Derenle Sonariwo and Tokini Peterside to help organize the Rele Gallery schedule of events and the 2018 Art X Fair respectively.
Tony however is best known for his unwavering support for emerging artist and using his platforms to elevate and interrogate their work.
Muyiwa Awojide (Sodas and Popcorn)
Culture demands to be shared. We create communities around the things we love because we want to be able to experience the mutual joy that sharing our interest with others and bringing to the same level of appreciation that we have can bring. Olumuyiwa Sylvester Awojide has dedicated much of his time online and offline to fostering communities around pop culture, fringe interests and geeky pursuits, elevating them through structured interactions and critique. Awojide created Sodas and Popcorn, one of the first indigenous movie review sites to pop up in the Nigerian blogosphere, and he has sustained the site to become the premiere resource for information and reviews about Nollywood films.
Awojide joined the management of Lagos ComicCon, Nigeria’s first comic book fair and conference, helping the organization grow in its three years of operation to become the premiere place to discover new comic, Vfx companies and individual visual and comic artists. He has also worked with Social Media Week Lagos, curating the digital experience for guests and helping them reach audiences through branded digital campaigns. In all he has managed over 100 campaigns. Awojide subverts the trope that the unconventional interests cannot be financially profitable while also being creatively fulfilling.
Aisha Salaudeen (journalism)
Journalism in Nigeria can be an exercise in drudgery. With poor funding for journalists and dangerous conditions that make it near impossible to pursue investigative stories with the kind of grit and tenacity that brings about true change, most journalists in Nigeria end up becoming pawns in the machinations of politicians and private individuals. Aisha Salaudeen however, has become a beacon for progressive, factual and important journalism.
Using the leverage her position with the new media news and analysis platform Stears Business affords her, Salaudeen has taken it upon herself to provide context to many of the peculiarities around Nigeria’s problems. Since 2017, Salaudeen has run beats on sexuality, health, business, gender and injustice, travelling around the country to speak to the people at the heart of these stories. Her articles are insightful and introspective and her approach to telling the stories of other is one that is grounded in respect for the other and an understanding of the nuances that inform these important conversations. Ms. Salaudeen is also a devout Muslim and breaking glass ceilings for Muslim women in journalism.
We cannot help but be excited for Salaudeen and the change she is intent on bringing to the Nigerian media industry.
TJ Benson (literature)
In 2016, TJ Benson was part of a surprise group of writers who were shortlisted for the then new Saraba Manuscript Prize. As one of the prizes springing up across the continent that sought to reward the work of emerging writers, Benson’s shortlisting legitimized his work as a speculative fiction writer in an industry where 60’s era wartime novels were all rage. When he was announced winner of the Prize in late 2016, it set in motion a chain of events that would lead to Benson’s debut short story collection, ‘We Will Not Fade Into Darkness’ being picked by Paressia Books and his name entering the roster of established writers.
Benson affirmed his win in 2017 by being shortlisted for and coming first runner up of the 2017 Short Story Day Africa Prize, with his short story ‘Tea’ about a migrant couple who explore identity in the face of homelessness. Benson debut short story collection made several end of year lists in 2018 and he was invited to the prestigious Ake Festival and the Kaduna Book and Arts Festival to speak on his work as a speculative writer, photographer and filmmaker, and the future of spec literature in Nigeria.
Benson’s work on and off the page investigate the boundaries of possibility for Nigerians in arts and inspire everyone who is fortunate to experience his work to look a little deeper with greater empathy for the lives of the other.
Osaze Amadasun (Visual art)
This January, multi-disciplinary artist Osaze Amadasun was chosen to participate in the Rele Gallery Young Contemporaries group exhibition. The exhibition is unofficially regarded as herald for artist who are expected to gain steam in the coming years and transition into successful careers. The gallery has been proven largely successful since it started the series in 2016 and with the curated collection Amadasun showed during the event, it was clear that they were about to be vindicated yet again.
Amadasun has been active in the creative industry for the last few years, and best known for his work mining and documenting the chequered and celebrated history of the ancient Benin Empire, and the history, artisans and craftsmen that documented the Benin Empire’s culture and conquests. Amadasun’s preoccupation with this subject has been the subject of much of his work in the last three years and have been reflected in his private commissions that include full wall murals for a handful of the tech spaces in Lagos and beyond.
Amadasun’s work at Rele (a curated part of a more comprehensive whole) breaks down the advent of the Portguese to ancient Benin and how culture and ignorance can meld into unexpected results. Amadasun’s dedication to his craft, his commitment to research and representation and his sheer skill will keep him relevant to the Nigerian art industry long after hype and publicity.
Kugali Media (Ziki Nelson, Tolu Foyeh, Hamid Ibrahim)
Frustrated with the lack of accurate African representation in comics in Western markets Comic Artist Ziki Nelson left a cushy job in banking to create his own comic and tell authentic stories that reference Africa but also understand the complexities and nuance that comes with reference African history and religion in pop culture. Business manager Tolu Foyeh and animator Hamid Ibrahim joined forces with Nelson to create Kugali Media, a media company dedicated to finding and publishing the comic work of African artists living in the continent and in the diaspora.
With a lot of attention from international media, their very first anthology and nearly a dozen contributors to Kugali media either creating their own standalone comics or contributing to the anthology, the guys at Kugali are already changing how comic books are consumed on the continent. Their work is resonating in literary circles too because their graphic novel Lake Of Tears by Kwabena Ofei was chosen as the best African speculative fiction comic of 2018 by the Nommo Awards. There are still many stories to be told on the continent and Nelson, Foyeh and Ibrahim are committed to provide the platform on which these stories will reach mainstream audiences.
Stephen Tayo (photography)
Even before Stephen Tayo graduated from the University of Lagos where he was studying philosophy, he knew he was not going to practice. At least, not in the way most philosophers practice the discipline. He knew he wanted to observe and understand the motivations behind people’s actions, to document their lives not as a spectator but as a collaborator. He dabbled across mediums and settled on photography because it allowed him maintain a level of intimacy with the people he photographed while remaining detached enough to keep them from changing themselves to suit his impressions or expectations.
Tayo’s photography, characterized by his insistence that his collaborators be photographed in their natural environments has found an adoring audience both here in Nigeria and abroad. He has become an in-demand documentary photographer, working with international fashion brands and revered fashion magazines like The New York Times, Vogue US, Vogue Italia, Dazed and Confused covering events like Chale Wote and Rocktoberfest. Tayo was recently chosen by art tastemaker Rele Gallery to feature in their 2019 Young Contemporaries exhibition, a showcase that has ‘discovered’ artists like Ayobola Kekere-Ekun, Yadichinma Ukoha-Kalu and Iam Ancestor. Stephen Tayo champions an inclusive and empathic approach to photography, and light of increasing attempts at pandering to Western audiences, is an important conversation to be had.
Joey Akan (culture)
When Joey Akan left his job as the chief music critic at Ringier owned media conglomerate Pulse NG, he did so as a matter of life-and-death. While Akan had gained notoriety for his unvarnished opinions on music from established and emerging musical performing artists, he also struggled with depression fuelled by an overwhelming feeling of dissatisfaction with the work he had done thus far.
And it was very important work. As the chief music critic of an industry that produced hundreds of millions of Naira in revenue and minted superstars without the prerequisite structures that would traditionally serve as gatekeeping for young hopefuls looking to make in the industry, Akan’s music reviews and analyses could easily make or dent an artist’s career. Inured to bribes or threats, Akan was one of the first true critics of the 010’s, though it was a role that often gave him only the power to destroy but not too often to build.
Akan left Pulse and reordered his career in 2018. He took on a management role at Universal Music Group Nigeria, helping steer the careers of artists like Odunsi The Engine, Nonso Bassey, Cina Soul and Tay Iwar. He also contributes for international music platforms like Okay Africa and The Guardian, demystifying the Nigerian music industry for its adoring fans.
Logan February (literature)
Literary prodigy Logan February is only 19, but you would never guess that from his extensive body of work that includes three lauded poetry chapbooks, and a coveted Push Cart Prize nomination. But Logan February represents the future of Nigerian literature, self-aware, stepped in activism and enriched by rebellion.
Though Logan February has been publishing poetry in journals and literary magazines since 2015, his first proper body of work, How To Cook A Ghost was first taken by a Glass Poetry Books and released in late 2016. He quickly followed up that chapbook with his most famous body of work Painted Blue With Saltwater, a collection published by Indolent press that was defined by its exploration and deconstruction of LGBT life in Nigeria. Since then, February has become a staple in the local poetry scene, speaking at the 2018 Ake Book Festival and slated to tour the US in the fall with his third chapbook Mannequin in the Nude. He is also co-authoring poetry anthologies for Dam Books and Indolent Press, two revered independent poetry publishers with respected rosters.
February took control of his name, his life and his poetry and is blazing a trail for other young Nigerian poets who want to carve out a space for themselves in the world.
Ayo Akinyemi: (Artist/Art Therapist)
For many visual artists, art is more than a medium of expression or even a way to make personal and political statements, it is catharsis. This is true of the work of Akin Akinyemi, a visual artist working out of Ogbomoso in Oyo State. Akinyemi has spent the last decade running the eponymous Ayo Akinyemi Centre for Research and Art Therapy, an organization he founded and donates his time and experience to.
Akinyemi focuses his work in visual arts and philanthropy towards empowering disabled children and youth through art therapy classes. He also volunteers in villages and small towns across the South West teaching young children and teenagers in those communities to work with and create art from locally sourced materials. Empowering children in this way is ground-breaking, especially as people from these regions are often discouraged from pursuing visual art as a career interest in favour of STEM disciplines. Akinyemi also volunteers his time to teach spontaneous drawing to undergraduate students from his alma-mater and heads the art Art Collective called DI + LOGOS. He also organizes student run educational trips to explore cultural and art heritage sites across the country.
Akinyemi is convinced that exposure to art can be therapeutic and freeing for young people and has dedicated his life’s works towards ensuring those ideas can be propagated. We need more people like him.
Oyinkan Braithwaite (Literature)
Oyinkan Braithwaite’s debut novel, My Sister the Serial Killer has three publishers on three continents and is in talks to be translated into several languages and has already been optioned for a book deal. This almost never happens to debut authors, but Oyinkan Braithwaite isn’t just any debut author. The spoken word poet and writer first gained international attention when she was shortlisted for the African Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2016 and began to gain the traction and publish excerpts of what would eventually become her now critically acclaimed novel.
Braithwaite belongs to an elite group of young Nigerian writers who are choosing not to write to pander to the western gaze. My Sister the Serial Killer, created out of existential angst in the months before Braithwaite turned 30 are an exploration of sibling rivalry and loyalty, the unique dynamics of Nigerian marriage and psychosis in a country where very little works.
When Ms. Braithwaite isn’t writing or creating spoken word poetry, she is working as an accomplished visual artist.
Ada Nduka Oyom (She Codes Africa)
There has been a huge drive for the inclusion of women into tech spaces, and this has led to many women stepping out from behind the shadows and documenting their own journeys and successes in tech. Ada Nduka Oyom of She Codes Africa is of such women trailblazing in Nigerian tech. She Codes Africa is a platform Oyom created to highlight the achievements and successes of women in tech and to offer them visibility in an industry that is often homogenously presented as male. She connects female developers and women in tech adjacent industries to opportunities within the community.
When Oyom isn’t championing other women developers, she partners with tech resource For Loop, running their highly educative podcast and serving as its host. She also runs GDG Lagos, a developer resource that teaches enthusiasts how to create using Google Tools. She is also in charge of developer relations for the Interswitch Group, a position that uses all of her skills and network to help developers better integrate within the financial services company. Oyom is making technology safer and more inclusive for women across the continent and her work couldn’t be more important or timely.
Iyanu Adams: (Web Developer & Entrepreneur)
As one of the first Google Ambassadors at the Ladoke Akintola University, Iyanu Adams proved himself a proficient leader and facilitator, organizing 50 Google Workshops across his campus that reached more than 1000 staff and students. That was the culmination of a long list of achievements and endorsements from local and international organizations that include AIKI Nigeria and Microsoft. These opportunities allowed Iyanu Adams implement his desire to introduce young people to technology and empower them through knowledge.
Technology remains at the core of Iyanu’s life, expressed through his various start-up adventures. He started NetBytes, a digital agency that provides digital marketing and web solutions for individuals and businesses. He also serves as a managing partner at Bitcom, a digital solutions company based in Lagos and is an active and vocal participant in the Nigerian tech community, advocating for more inclusion for careers and jobs that are traditionally ignored by Nigerian tech. He currently consults for the Osun State Ministry of Education and has partnered in the past with Google to bring the Google Teacher’s conference, an initiative to help teachers better utilize Google tools in their quest to educate. He is also the founder of the Striving for Greater Education technology initiative that uses technology to aid learning.
Niyi Aribi (Founder, CMapIT)
Founding a tech company out of Nigeria that quickly gains the respect and admiration of the international tech community is no mean feat, but Nigerians like Niyi Aribi somehow not only manage this but excel in the global space. Aribi is the co-creator of CMapit, an application that allows relative novices create quick maps and charts that can be integrated into documents with minimal skills. As the world becomes increasingly digital, the demand for maps and charts of this nature have grown.
Niyi Aribi’s CMapIT was conceived while Aribi was an intern at the World Bank and created out of a need to help Nigerians track social issues within the country and visualise the impact or lack thereof, of governance and government projects. By integrating for web and mobile use, cMapIT is accessible to wider audiences, does the heavy work of processing raw data to be fed into the application and allows developers build their own iterations and applications with its datasets. So far CMapIT has been downloaded more than 40,000 and given the Best Business Award by the Open Data Institute in London and the most innovative GIS company in citizen empowerment by the Geospatial Excellence Awards in India.
Aribi and CMapIT is launching its first tech hub to better engage with developers looking to create applications with the company’s API and demand better accountability from the government.
Jesudamilare Adesegun-David (Co-founder, Ennovate Labs)
A major hindrance to the growth of technology outside pockets like Lagos and Abuja is the absence of the basic amenities and the communities around which technology grows and progresses. To solve these problems, many have championed the establishment of technology incubators and innovation hubs, spaces where young people have access to good internet, technology, power and other developers from which they can learn and spar ideas.
Ennovate labs, co-founded by Jesudamilare Adesegun-David is overturning the status quo in Ogbomoso, Oyo state. Adesegun mentors and connects young developers with potential clients while creating a space where technology and innovation is celebrated. Himself a chapter director of Start-up Grind, Adesegun-David’s’ is committed the establishment and growth of indigenous technology brands. He is also invested in the push to decentralize technology in Nigeria and bring technology through hubs like Ennovate Labs to the communities who are least likely to access them otherwise. Ennovate labs is doing this through Teenovate¸ it’s youth oriented coding boot camps, Code Force, its exhaustive core technology incubators committed to training 2000+ developers in the next decade to meet the international demand.
That is how you lead movement.
Abiodun Adereni (Help Mum, Innovation)
Abiodun Adereni’s journey to becoming a Google Impact Champion for 2018, started nearly a decade before when he student Veterinary Medicine. During his visits to his hometown, he was disturbed by the high mortality rates of mothers and babies, specifically due to a strain of Zoonosis called Toxoplasmosis, often caused by women interacting with semi-feral pets during their pregnancies. Toxoplasmosis is a disease primarily found in cats and able to cause mutations that result in congenital defects in babies. These conditions were heightened by the absence of a primary health center in his hometown and the unwillingness of the government to change this.
When Adereni was chosen for the Tony Elumelu Foundation annual entrepreneurship drive, Adereni chose to begin work on his solution to this problem, which was to simply equip pregnant mothers to care for themselves and deliver their babies safely in the absence of proper medical care. The end result was HelpMum, a mobile-based application which delivers timely information about vaccination and pre-natal checkup dates, awareness about possible health complications during pregnancy and general natal health information to mothers in their indigenous languages. Adereni founded the start-up and launched the application in 2017.
Adereni’s application was so groundbreaking, Help Mum was chosen as a Google Impact Awards winner for 2018, an affirmation of the important work both men are doing in improving healthcare for all women.
Hauwa Ojeifo (She Writes Woman)
There are few women in the humanities who were as lauded as Hauwa Ojeifo in 2018. Ojeifo was honoured with a coveted Generation Change Award by the MTV Europe Music Awards, a Queen’s Young Leader 2018 award and a prize for Best Creative Social Enterprise in Nigeria among many others. She’s gained all this attention for her stellar work with She Writes Woman, a non-profit focused on mental health awareness and advocacy against sexual violence against women and girls.
Ojeifo took her activism with She Writes Woman offline after two years of online advocacy with Safe Space Nigeria, a crowd funded walk-in clinic for ‘life issues’. Victims of sexual violence who use the clinic have access to emergency healthcare and counselling and young people with issues adapting to personal struggle and coping with the general stresses of life in Nigeria are given vital access to mentorship and counselling. Partnershisp with Wiki Loves Women has allowed her non-profit reach women that would otherwise be geographically removed from her physical outreaches and spread the gospel of seeking mental healthcare especially for disadvantaged minorities.
Ojeifo is a generational voice and an important advocate for mental health in Nigeria.
Victor Ugo (Mentally Aware Nigeria)
For too long, mental health has been a taboo subject, discussed with apprehension within families and ignored by the government and public institutions. As external social pressure and the dissolution of traditional African extended family units pushes more young people into isolation and consequently ill-health, organizations are springing up, championed by young people to educate on mental health, fight the stigma around being diagnosed and receiving treatment for ill-mental health and changing policy around how sufferers are treated.
Victor Ugo, the director of Mentally Aware Nigeria is at forefront of many of these conversations, himself a survivor of depression and suicidal ideation. Through aggressive peer education, public notices and counselling for the depressed, Ugo has managed to make an important stand for the present and future mental health of all young Nigerians. In 2018, Victor Ugo and Mentally Aware compiled the country’s very first privately funded anthology chronicling mental health of Nigerians and also put out the educational short film ‘Oga John’ which helped contextualize the problem of depression in the country.
Ugo still has a lot of work ahead of him, but we commend the strides he has made thus far. His impact has helped hundreds of young Nigerians come to terms with their own bodies and brains and set them on the path of recovery.
Agoyi Kemisola (Safer Hands Health Initiative)
Kemisola Agoyi’s decision to start the Safer Hands Health Initiative was inspired in part by her work in medicine and a time-lined assessment of Infant and maternal healthcare in Nigeria. Nigeria has one of the highest maternal and infant death incidences in the world, a phenomenon that has been attributed in part to a lack of access to natal healthcare and ignorance about positive health practices for mothers. Agoyi founded her non-profit to provide alternative healthcare sources to at-risk mothers in smaller communities without access to proper healthcare.
Through Safer Hands, Agoyi and other voulnteers educate primary healthcare workers like traditional birth attendants and the extended families of expecting and young mothers to recognise natal complications and general health issues peculiar to mothers and infants under 5 and possible ways to treat said illnesses. Agoyi also routinely sensitizes individuals on the personal health through radio appearances, social media and partnerships with other non-profit organizations like Haceyhealth.
Rose Okafor (Ramoth Hospitality Channel)
With the kind of dedication Rose Okafor has put towards volunteering, it is little surprise that she was chosen from among hundreds of hopefuls for the Nigeria Volunteers Award for 2018. The registered nurse started her volunteer platform Ramoth Hospitality Channel in 2012, and has used the platform to engage with medical outreaches and non-government organizations to organize healthcare outreaches in disadvantaged communities across West Africa.
Since Okafor began her outreach, she has partnered with the Nigerian Medical Association, Run For A Cure Africa funding cancer research, the Sebeccly Cancer Care Centre and the Annabel Leadership Academy, helping to recruit volunteers, educate them on the principles of volunteering and liaise with them to ensure that volunteers and organizations share a singular objective and purpose. She has partnered with the Global Goodwill Ambassador programme and the international Association for Volunteer Effort, position through which she is able to convince other young Nigerians to participate in volunteer efforts. Okafor also trains other volunteers and helps place them with non-profit organizations within and outside the country and her wins.
Umar Alani (activism)
As a registered nurse in a largely misogynistic society, Umar Alani has seen more than his fair share of people using their status, age or position to push unhealthy and downright dangerous agendas. But he was never really moved to do anything about it until he encountered a man selling regular antibiotics in a public bus in Lagos as a miracle drug able to solve all sorts of illnesses. After confronting the man and exposing his quackery, Alani educated the passengers on the bus about the dangers of misusing drugs and how misuse can create resistance in pathogens and tolerance in patients.
Surprised by the response he received from the passengers in the bus and the widespread ignorance of medicine and the high incidence of casual drug use in the country, Alani sought to provide a long term solution to the problem. Alani and a team of like-minded individuals wrote, edited and published My Health Booklet, a compendium of health topics in the style of Where There is No Doctor that provides accessible and easy to understand information about drug dosages, simple medical diagnosis and important information about personal health with the intention of distributing the pamphlet to at-risk populations.
Umar tweets at @formulareee
Jekein Lato-Unah (Visual Arts/Advocacy)
Many people discovered Jekein Lato-Unah through her controversial interviews with the renowned social media documentary project Humans of New York, Lato-Unah was one of the few people HONY has given two opportunities to speak on their stories and Jekein’s work as a visual artist and activist were highlighted. Lato-Unah is a professionally trained visual artist and part of a vocal wave of feminists who choose to adopt a dual pronged approach to feminism, engaging in exhaustive online conversations about the politics of the body and how interrelationships between the genders can be improved and offline activism through female owned and run non-profits like Stand to End Rape (STER), Sanitary Aid for Nigerian Girls (SANG) and the Market March.
Lato-Unah was one of the first women to facilitate a social media driven #MeToo drive, encouraging teenage girls to speak up about the abuse they had suffered in their secondary schools. She is also a vocal advocate for consent and sexual health. Lato-Unah’s work as an artist is also celebrated and she has participated in a number of exhibitions including the Empowerment by Creative Debuts & Nasty Women exhibition in London, The Magic of Lagos group exhibition at the Waterside in Ikoyi, two group exhibitions at the Omenka Gallery and the Waffles’N’Cream friends and family exhibition.
Okoduwa Joshua (Restructure Africa)
Even if you are personally insulated from the realities of living in Nigeria, it is impossible to ignore the plight of persons from lower social classes with less access, and how disposable persons from marginalized communities are treated by our government and upper classes. Joshua Okoduwa simply couldn’t pretend there was nothing he could do to even the social divide and was moved to start Restructure Africa, a non-profit that focuses on providing education, health services and community development to the poorest communities in the country.
With a mandate to provide quality of life for all, Okoduwa through Restructure Africa has focused on organizing blood drives as part of events the organization calls Bubbles, to encourage people to donate blood for medical facilities and potentially reduce the incidence of deaths from lack of access to blood transfusions. Restructure Africa has also partnered with leading publisher Farafina Books to provide books and educational material to at-risk at public schools in Lagos. With Bubble Teams in Texas USA, Abuja Nigeria, and Lagos Nigeria, Okoduwa’s dream of reaching as many communities as possible across the world is happening, one person at a time.
Damilola Marcus (Market March)
Damilola Marcus, or OmogeDami as she is more commonly referred to, is relatively new to the activism space. But her impact has been no less vital to the growing agitation for a re-evaluation of normalized behaviour in interpersonal relationships between men and women in Nigeria. As part of a new wave of feminists who have taken their message online, Marcus routinely engages in ranging conversations about the problems and needs of women in Nigerian patriarchal society, garnering a strong following but also many detractors who see her defiance and passion for women’s rights as intimidating. Ms. Marcus doesn’t pay either her fans or detractors any mind, focused as she is on creating safe spaces for women to express themselves without the threat of violence or intimidation.
In 2018, Ms. Marcus was one of the facilitators of the Nigerian #MeToo movement that saw teenage girls from a number of high-profile Nigerian secondary schools detail abuse, rape and sexual harassment that happen with these institutions. Having so many young women feel like they were given a space to express themselves encouraged Marcus to take her activism offline and start ‘Market March’, inspired by the routine complaints of sexual harassment by traders in Lagos Markets. In late 2018, Market March organized its first offline protest march, choosing the notorious Yaba and Tejuosho market as its test grounds. Though met with initial backlash, testimonials suggest that Ms. Marcus and Market March made significant impact on the men of the market.
While most people know Damilola Marcus as OmogeDami the feminist activist, Ms. Marcus is also an accomplished brand strategist and graphic designer, running a design label with her associate Seyi Olusanya. She also volunteers for organizations like Stand To End Rape and Sanitary Aid for Nigerian Girls.
Lolo Cynthia Ihesie (Founder, Lolo Talks)
If you’re an active social media user, the odds are you have come across one of Cynthia Ihesie’s viral interviews. A controversial figure in online spaces for her refusal to be cowed about her values or the causes she is partial to, Lolo Cynthia as she is known on the internet uses ‘Lolo Talks’, her television show to tackle pressing societal issues, often with controversial guests and viewpoints that excite, alarm and force uncomfortable conversations. Ihesie has spent the last four years building her portfolio as a public health specialist and sexuality educator, creating awareness on sexual health and destigmatizing sexually transmitted illnesses like HIV and Herpes.
Asides from Lolo Talks, Ihesie also created one of the country’s most comprehensive sexual education curriculums, circumventing the cultural and religious biases which often renders traditional sex education classes in Nigeria useless to the young adults who need it. She has taught ‘My Body Is Mine’.to over 700 students across the country and continues to reach more young people. With half a million views on her Youtube channel, millions of impressions on her social media pages and near constant buzz around the causes she champions, Lolo Cynthia is changing how we approach activism.
Dimma Umeh (new media)
Youtube Influencers, especially in emerging markets like Africa walk the tightrope of maintaining an affect that is pleasing to their audiences and convincing international and local brands to pay them to access this influence. While the industry here is growing in viewership, a commensurate growth in revenue has not quite happened, stifled as it is by a disconnect between Youtube influencers and the advertising and PR brands that are supposed to connect them. This is where Dimma Umeh shines.
As one of Nigeria’s first Youtubers to cross the elusive 100,000 subscriber milestone, Ms. Umeh has used her platform as a beauty and lifestyle influencer to promote made in Nigeria beauty and lifestyle brands.
After a hiatus in 2017, Ms. Umeh returned to Youtube with a new mantra. She came to speak her truth as serve as a spokesperson for Nigerian Youtubers who have struggled with several challenges and have been afraid to speak up for fear of financial or social ostracization by partner brands. Since she returned Ms. Umeh has spoken against the marginalization of content creators by Nigerian PR brands, spoken about piracy and plagiarism within the industry and used her platform to promote other Youtubers. Recently Ms. Umeh was invited to participate in the 2019 Nigerian presidential debate in recognition of her position as a thought leader in the digital media space.
Who says speaking your mind doesn’t come with its own benefits?
Awazi Angbalaga (Soundcity Fm)
Awazi Angblaga always wanted to do radio. As a person not from one of Nigeria’s three major tribes, there was a constant erasure of her identity as a person from a minority ethnic, erasure of her identity as a woman and erasure of her voice as a person who understands mental illness. Radio provided her a platform where she could reassert all these aspects of her identity while encouraging others to do the same. When she was presented with an opportunity to get into presenting in 2016, she embraced it, taking on the mononym ‘Awazi’ and throwing herself into her gig, ‘The Home Run’ on the newly minted Soundcity Radio’s Drive Time Show. Harnessing the internet, Awazi is able to extend her reach far beyond Lagos, connecting with fans on social media and sharing her story to her audience online and offline.
Awazi’s activism has come to define her brand and set her apart from presenters currently working on radio today. She is not hesitant to speak on women’s issues for fear of being disliked. She shares relevant information about resources for disadvantaged women and people who struggle with mental illness and is a strong advocate for body positivity no matter your gender. Awazi’s show is well listened to, and thanks to her work, Soundcity’s drivetime show ranks 6th on a list of 30 active stations working in the city today.
Victor Ekwealor (technology/media)
It is paradoxical that Nigeria, a country with a rapidly growing tech industry has a severe dearth of trusted publications who cover this expansion. Even rarer is a publication with enough integrity that their reporting on events related to Nigerian tech is respected and referenced in necessary conversations. Victor Ekwealor is determined to make Techpoint.NG one of the few Nigerian tech magazines regarded in this way.
As the managing editor of Techpoint, Ekwealor helped take techpoint out of the editorial room and into the heart of the growing tech revolution, organizing offline events like the Techpoint Build events, the Techpoint Innovation Tours. In recognition of his work covering the financial industries markets, he was nominated for the PricewaterCooper (PwC) Media Excellence Awards for his reporting on Capital Markets and was awarded the PwC Media Excellence Awards for Business Reporting. Ekwealor’s dedication to properly covering the tech space and providing an unbiased perspective into the often obscured inner-workings of the country’s growing tech industry has made him an industry leader and certainly one to watch in the coming years.
Ferdy Adimefe (politics)
As the CEO and Team Lead of the Imaginarium, a collective of media companies dedicated to redefining digital media and content creation in Africa, Ferdy Adimefe has been trying to understand the thought processes, interests and tastes of the Nigerian millennial youth. But he has also been at the heart of that demographic, first with his radio show on Smooth FM 98.1, his decade long work with the Creative Nigeria Project, a bi-monthly offline event dedicated to providing networking opportunities for young creatives and his work pastoring popular youth church The Tribe Lagos. With a view on politics, entertainment and business through his work with the Century Group (an Oil and Gas conglomerate operational in Nigeria), it was only a matter of time before Adimefe tried his hand at solving the country’s problems through political office.
Adimefe is running to represent the Eti-Osa Federal Constituency under the Alliance for A New Nigeria political party and is one of the few religious leaders choosing to take on political office at the legislative level. No matter what comes of the elections in this year, Ferdy Adimefe’s political run has and will define a new approach to politics in the country.
Ndi Kato (Politics)
Even if you don’t follow politics in Nigeria, you have either directly or indirectly felt Ndi Kato (more popularly known as YarKafanchan)’s impact on the Nigerian Political space. The Kaduna state politician has been a thorn in the hide of the incumbent government, always quick to highlight the plight of oppressed communities in Kaduna state and the oversight of the government and state levels. She is peerless as a female politician, harnessing the power of social media to bring visibility to causes she is passionate about, encourage other women to take an interest in and actively participate in politics at every level.
Unafraid of anyone, Ndi Kato has stood up to the Federal and State governments, challenging them to accountability in their actions and their treatment of the electorate under their purview. In 2018, Ndi Kato decided to take advantage of the recently passed ‘Not Too Young To Run’ Bill, for which she had strongly advocated, to throw her hat in the ring for the chance to be the PDP’s house representatives flag bearer for the 2019 elections. She ran an entirely transparent campaign for the nomination, rallying women across the country to her cause and crowdfunding the fee for a nomination ticket. When she was asked to step down for another candidate, she voiced her disappointment on the social platforms where she had begun her campaign and promptly continued her duty of holding the government and her party to a higher standard of accountability.
Ndi Kato is a peerless politician and a shining example of the great future women in politics can forge for themselves in Nigeria.
Gbadegbo Vivour Rhodes (politics)
As the 2019 elections draw close, much of the conversation has revolved around too few young, educated Nigerian millennials are taking on the challenge of active politics. It is understandable considering the successive military and democratic regimes that have constantly flouted the rule of law and enriched themselves and the increasing opportunities that technology affords this particular generation that many of them are considering a way out instead of through. Gbadegbo Rhodes-Vivour has other ideas.
The 35 year old Ph.D holder and graduated of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) had a celebrated run as a career architect, serving in the United States as part of the team that rehabilitated New Orleans following the dreaded Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He also worked extensively with team that organized the Beijing Olympics in Summer 2008; all before he even did his National Youth Service.
After returning to Nigeria, Rhodes-Vivour has founded his own company Spatial Tectonics while serving on the boards of Delta International and Alhuda construction. Spurred by the inequality in housing and policy in the country, Rhodes-Vivour joined the Kowa Party, serving as their senatorial candidate. In 2018, he moved to the People’s Democratic Party where he is currently running for the Lagos West Senatorial District Seat. Rhodes-Vivour is championing a different kind of politics, one that is grounded in academia and structured around progressive policy, and he will certainly be a force to reckon with in the coming years.
Dipo Awojide (OgbeniDipo)
Dipo Awojide’s online persona OgbeniDipo has become synonymous with career development and self-improvement in Nigeria, an association that has come as a result of years of self-service. A senior lecturer at the Nottingham Business School and founder of BTDT Hub, career development start-up that helps young professionals align their career expectations with their skills and qualifications, Awojide has spent the last four years successfully helping young Nigerians find the joy in work and excitement in creating and crushing goals. He is also the founder of Ambidextrous Consult, a strategy firm that helps organizations streamline their internal structures to prioritize employees and create better, more inclusive workplaces.
He is a constant presence on social media, motivating young people to take their futures in their hands, offering valuable advice about internships, scholarships and other opportunities for personal and professional advancement. The effort that he has put into mentoring on social media has been reflected back in the phenomenal growth he has experienced on his social media platforms, tripling his follower base and positioning him as one of the de-facto figure heads for the future of enterprise and a champion of self-improvement in the country. And Ogbenidipo has no plans of slowing down.
Oluwaseun Ayansola (Founder, Commercially Aware/Woke Gen initiative)
With a first-class degree honours and accolades for being the best overall student from the notorious Faculty of Law at the Obafemi Awolowo University Oluwaseun Ayansola was clearly destined a leader in his set and an innovator with plans to change the world. But even while in school Ayansola was already showing signs of greatness. He was invited to attend the International Law Weekend by the American Branch of the International Law Association, the only Nigerian given the privilege his year. With graduate internships at the Nigerian Stock Exchange and revered consulting firms KPMG and Pricewater Cooper, Ayansola has had a diverse understanding of how business works in the country.
A legal internship at commercial law firm Sefton Fross, where he helped draft Nigeria’s newest Microfinance Bill would cement his interest in business and give him the push he needed to start Commercially Aware, his business that was created to connect young entrepreneurs to business opportunities by delivering business news and latest updates from the stock and opportunities markets. Commercially Aware also deconstructs information from business and capital markets into digestible factoids, Infographics and video accessible to young students and professionals looking to understand the industry.
Tayo Fabusiwa (Founder, Legal Pages)
Nigerian universities are hard. They are especially hard for students in the STEM disciplines, who not only carry the expectations of their families but also the quirks and idiosyncrasies of their tutors. Information is often scarce, and access is granted only to a favoured few. Tayo Fabusiwa first noticed this when he gained admission to study Law at the Obafemi Awolowo University where he threw himself into the university community, joining the University’s tax club and intellectual property law Club and founded the Advance Dispute Resolution club (ADR).
Challenged by a lack of information and resources for students without a pre-existing network either within or outside the school’s legal department, Fabusiwa began to compile information on and offline, eventually creating the Legal Pages website as a one stop resource for law students across the country seeking information about law firms, internship and scholarship options for students. Legal Pages currently publishes a magazine, interfaces with students for their needs during and after university and engages students looking for career advancement opportunities. Fabusiwa also works with Commercially aware, a non-profit startup created by Oluwasola Ayansola to help young graduates formulate tangible business plans and succeed in the entrepreneurship space.
According to a recent interview, Denike Adegboye says she started dabbling with design in her early teens and has spent 15 years working on the brand that she has become today. Those 15 years included a pivotal decision to return to University in Italy to study fashion and design just a year after she finished a first degree from the University of Babcock. They also include branding and rebranding as Adegboye’s understanding of her purpose as a creator changed, and her ambition for her brand grew.
Motivated by a desire to marry indigenous African fabrics with contemporary design, Denike Adegboye started Denike, an eponymous label that focuses primarily on women’s wear and has become a cult favorite among young millennial and post millennial Nigerian women. Denike’s eye for detail and superior design technique has elevated her above the rest of her class and was the reason why her brand was chosen for the exclusive Lagos Fashion Week Fashion Focus incubator programme that allowed her the opportunity to vie for a cash endowment for her brand and show a collection at the 2018 Lagos Fashion Week showcase.
Denike’s craftsmanship, understanding of her brand and personal story is altogether inspiring and indicative of why she will come to dominate Nigerian fashion in the coming years.
Njideka Akabogu (234 Star)
The Nigerian fashion industry is notorious for its unwillingness to embrace new talent and unconventional thinkers. To make any headway in the industry, creators have to often build their own independent platforms and become forces to reckon with outside of the pre-established pecking order. Njideka Akabogu has done just that with her work as the editor-in-chief of fashion publication, 234 Star. With diligence and an inclusive approach to fashion critique, Akabogu has used her platform to highlight the work of fashion designers, stylists, photographers and critics who are otherwise shunned by the fashion elite, giving them a platform to prove their work is just as boundary-pushing and capable of stirring important conversations.
Always on top of the trends and our current obsession with celebrity, swift reporting, and curation of social media use by celebrities have made 234 Star a regular with fashion lovers looking for diverse content in one place. Akabogu is also championing video as a way to engage a new audience in fashion and encouraging important conversations about the state of the industry now and its future if things do not change.
Mary Edoro (BellaNaija Style)
As the Junior Editor of BellaNaija Style, Mary Edoro is championing a new regime of reporting at the country’spremiere news and lifestyle website. Edoro’s touch is light but memorable, her ideas, fresh and fun and the brands she chooses to feature on the site as diverse as they are unconventional. Her tenure has thus far been marked by a move towards inclusion and diversity for smaller fashion brands, brands that tackle difficult topics like sexuality, ethnic bias and gender in their work and her insistence on spotlight the talents behind many of our beloved brands has endeared her personally and BellaNaija Style as a platform to a once sceptical audience.
Edoro has made the BellaNaija Style events and panels at Social Media Week and other media events important touch stones for the industry to evaluate its problems and parse its problems.
Mary Edoro is changing how we consume fashion in Nigeria and is doing guided by her unrelenting pursuit of excellence. Her ethos is defined by her willingness to always give the underdog a chance in a fight stacked against all fashion brands. She is definitely a gatekeeper for the Nigerian fashion and finally, one who actually comes into that influence with an understanding of its attendant responsibilities.