Every year YNaija.com/Y! Africa Magazine scouts the breadth of the country to uncover the freshest and youngest Nigerians who are blossoming in spite of the odds that appear to be stacked against them.
This year’s pool accommodates a wide variety of sectors; from sports to media, entertainment to technology, hinting of a subtle multi-sectoral growth.
These 25 people may not be household names yet, but you would do well to remember them now. We haven’t seen the last of them.
Adesuwa Etomi cut her teeth in the theatre, working on acclaimed productions like Saro, Band aid and the stage adaptation of Bobo Omotayo’s book, Lagos life, London living. She made the switch to the big screen with Knocking on heaven’s door, a movie musical also starring Ini Edo and Majid Michel. Her small screen credits include the upcoming Special crimes unit: Las Gidi cops as well as the short film, Brave.
As the music industry grows larger, the more unsavoury details of business and talent management have been playing out in real time. Enter Akinyemi Ayinoluwa, a music lover and entertainment lawyer who among other details, provides legal services for industry practitioners. A graduate of the University of Lagos, Ayinoluwa also publishes Citrus Music Live, a platform that offers opinion, advice and serves as a running commentary on the state of the entertainment industry.
The most exciting female player on the continent is also one of the youngest. 20 year old Oshoala shone like a thousand stars at the FIFA under-20 World Cup in Canada last year where she emerged the most valuable player after putting 7 goals past the net and assisting with 2 more. In January, she scored double at the Glo/CAF awards, winning the African Women’s Player of the Year and Women Youth Player of the year. She is currently signed to Liverpool Ladies in The English Premiership.
Bankole Cardoso is chairman and CEO of Easy Taxi, a free Smartphone application that gives users the ability to request a car on-demand at any time of the day. Cardoso studied Business management at Boston college and worked at Price Waterhouse Coopers in New York city before returning home to set up Easy Taxi, a startup which currently provides jobs for about 300 people and has received $10million in funding from Rocket internet.
Otegbade bridges the gap between grass root and big business through 2 entities; his not for profit, Generation enterprise as well as Strategy Q, a strategy advisory firm. The current The Future Awards Africa winner for Enterprise support, Otegbade, 27, helps larger organisations craft pro-poor policies to include grassroots in business processes and unlock hidden financial and social returns. Otegbade has run several other non-profit initiatives like Soup Kitchen movement and Unveiling Africa foundation.
Tolu Erogbogbo may not yet have exploded into household name status, but his moniker, Chef Eros has certainly come quite close to becoming one. He manages 2 promising business enterprises; Cookie Jar, a one stop confectionary with returns running into the millions as well as Eros and Gourmet, a fine food and services company. He is the celebrity chef ambassador for German appliances brand, Miele and hosts a breakfast show, Food Talk on Nigeria Info FM as well as a television special, Dishing Out on Ndani tv.
If you are in search of a fresh, contemporary female literary voice of Nigerian descent not named Chimamanda, then look no further than this fair complexioned Nigerian-American scholar. Okparanta who most recently joined the faculty of Southern New Hampshire University’s Low-Residency MFA in Fiction and Nonfiction program wowed critics with her well first book, Happiness, like water a dazzling collection of stories that was winner of the 2014 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction and a finalist for the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing.
22 year old Chukwuwezam Obanor is one of the founders of Prepclass, an online platform that provides study content (past tests, answers etc.) for local Nigerian schools in preparation for national exams. Prepclass started with an initial focus on the Joint Admissions Matriculations Board (JAMB) and has helped over 1500 students prepare for the exams by providing locally relevant content such as past questions and answers to test takers writing local exams through easily accessible digital devices.
You would be tempted to dismiss Denola Grey as a fabulously dressed socialite with more than his fair share of a love for the cameras and the red carpet but you would be wrong for. For beyond the dreamy good looks and striking poses, lies a young man intent on adding value to the fashion world. His style blog has its faithful fans and so do his style tips posts on Bellanaija.com. Last year, he co-hosted the red carpet event of The Future Awards Africa.
How do you work in London and make a film starring predominantly black actors without guns, curses or crime? Impossible some would say. But they are not Destiny Ekaragha, the tireless helmer behind Gone too far, one of the most heart-warming films ever made by a Nigerian anywhere. Ekaragha took Bola Agbaje’s Olivier award winning play about 2 siblings learning to get along over the course of a single day and managed to make a cheerful but relatable romantic comedy out of it.
If Tiwa Savage is the first lady of Mavin records, then Hadiza Blell is the undisputable crown princess of the high flying label. The fair complexioned wunderkid of both Nigerian and Sierra Leonean descent first caught major attention with her shock of red hair and drawling delivery on the Mavin anthem, Dorobucci and quickly followed up on that success with a hit single of her own titled, Awww.
Ekene Chuks Okeke
A lawyer by training, Okeke is one half of The Kink and I, a natural hair blog that encourages African women all over the world who have decided to grow their natural hair out. On The Kink and I, visitors can find stories, tips, advice and inspiration related to the natural hair experience. Okeke recently joined Natural Nigerian, a veteran hair blogger to organise hair meet ups in Calabar and Lagos.
24 year old Eseoghene Odiete is the creative director of Hesey Designs, a company that specializes in creating bespoke fashion accessories like bags, shoes, accessories and corporate items with African, continental and a variety of print fabrics. A trade she learnt herself with the help of the internet in about 23 months, Odiete has grown a business, started with just N10, 000 to a million Naira brand. Winner of the Google Africa Connected Award, her work was featured in the July 2014 edition of British Vogue.
Falz the Bahd Guy
His real name is Folarin Falana but you probably know him as Falz the Bahd Guy, the rapper and entertainer who is as comfortable dishing out punchlines on his debut album Wazup Guy as he is causing fans to dissolve into fits of laughter with his popular video skits posted across social media platforms. Falana leads the charge for a new generation of artistes that take advantage of the internet and its confluence with showbiz to advance their music making.
It took just one wink for Korede Bello to become a superstar. One of the new generation members of the music super group/record label, Mavins, 19 year old Bello has become an instant teen heartthrob. After stints on the Mavin hits Dorobucci and Adaobi, he attempted to slake the thirst of his adoring fans (both male and female) with the new single, Godwin. A singer, guitarist and songwriter, Bello is a student of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism.
In an era where on air personalities are fast becoming celebrities, famous mostly for being famous, it is increasingly difficult to find on air talent that is discovered organically, one whom audiences can approach without feeling like they are being stampeded into accepting. Khadeejah Rahman who hosts a widely followed belt on Top Radio 90.1 alongside Yomi Kazeem is one of such. Her voice is welcoming, almost soothing as she draws listeners in with her skilful delivery.
Kunle Idowu’s alter ego Frank Donga has become an internet sensation, appreciated largely for the comic gold and spot on performance of Idowu in character as Mr Donga, the perpetually clueless job seeker on the web series, The Interview,. But beyond the comic timing, Idowu exposes the sad rot of our educational system and the barely baked graduates that our universities churn out annually to compete in a fast moving world. Idowu is a nominee for Best Actor at the Africa Movie Viewers Choice Awards.
At the just concluded Sundance film festival, Nigerian filmmaker Mobolaji Adeolu caused a mild sensation when his film, A will of iron, based on the true story of a blacksmith and his family, living under the 3rd Mainland Bridge in Lagos for almost 15 years was selected as one of the winners of the festival’s Short Film Challenge. Adeolu co-directed the film and will receive a $10,000 grant.
Olawale Isaiah Ojo
Ojo, 25 is CEO of Agropreneur Nigeria, an agribusiness organization which provides business support services for startups like supply of farm inputs, creating access to market and agribusiness consultancy for older farmers via the Farmers Organization. He also uses social media platforms to carry out advocacy and capacity building of youth, turning their passion and attention to the opportunities in agribusiness. In July 2014, Ojo’s blog, Agropreneur Nigeria won the best Agriculture blog in West Africa in the Youth in Agriculture Blog Competition in Nairobi, Kenya.
Patrick Nnaemeka Okorie broke out last year with the Timaya assisted anthem, Alubarika, a prayerful melodious tune that was prescient of the patois star’s rise to fame. A second single, Girlie o followed, as well as its seductive remix and it was obvious that young chap was no fluke. In December 2014, Patoranking beat other contemporaries to clinch the competitive Next Rated award at the Headies. Previous winners include Wizkid, Omawumi and Sean Tizzle.
After a stint working as a staff writer for Y! Africa and YNaija.com, Azuakola branched out on his own to start the online political website, The Scoop. Boasting hard hitting opinion pieces, rounded analyses and impressive coverage on all things politics, The Scoop’s steady growth curve has seen its founder become one of the most important players in online journalism. He presently hosts, The Frontpage, a 1 hour current affairs radio show airing on Radio Continental every Sunday at 6:15pm.
Singer, songwriter and producer, Tay may be only 16 but the talent and quality of music that he offers is wise beyond his age. His mixtape, Passport, led by the songs, Spiritual and Party was one of last year’s underappreciated wonders. Tay’s brooding combination of multiple music elements and experiences grounded in purely native roots is indeed a departure from the desolate landscape that the music industry has become.
Uche Okonkwo won the inaugural Etisalat Flash Fiction Prize in 2013 for her story ‘Neverland’. Armed with a M.A in creative writing from the University of Manchester, England, the win in this particular category was far from surprising as Okonkwo prefers writing short pieces bristling with warmth and feeling. Much of her work can be accessed on her Truth and Fiction blogspot.
Yagazie Emezi’s blog started with the intention of providing a hub for young and up and coming photographers who are passionate about Africa and the culture of the continent. Over the years it has become so much more, transforming gradually into a cultural touchstone that welcomes content that engenders a proper and empathetic representation of Africa. Boasting dual degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Africana studies, the Aba-born Emezi has via her YouTube channel and video logs, broached a number of topics considered taboo in the African culture space.
With her head cropped low, infectious smile and confident poise, no other television personality working today captures hearts as easily as the delectable Zainab Balogun. From the Calabar studios of Ebony Life television, Balogun casts a charming spell on audiences from Lagos to London. She is a regular on the week daily magazine programme, The Spot