Learn more about the speaker lineup for TEDGlobal 2017.
OluTimehin Adegbeye is a writer and speaker who does rights-based work in the areas of urban development, gender, sexualities and sexualized violence. Her social commentary takes the form of non-fiction, auto-fiction and poetry -- as well as sometimes quite strongly worded Twitter threads. A firm believer in lived experience as a legitimate source of knowledge, she often draws her broader political analyses from personal stories.
Adegbeye identifies as a de-colonial feminist, with a political praxis rooted in Womanist and Black Feminist thought. In deconstructing how power, social services, housing, capital and other resources are distributed and/or denied within globalized societies, her ultimate goal is to reinscribe the intrinsic value of human life.
If we intend to build computers that think or work like we do, we're not going to do it with silicon-based devices, says Oshiorenoya Agabi. There's another way: synthetic neurobiology merged with silicon. "AI will ultimately be accomplished by exclusive use of actual biological neurons," Agabi says. "Biology has the most extensive open source hardware and software."
Agabi's start-up, Koniku, is engineering neurons to express synthetic receptors, giving them an unprecedented ability to become aware of surroundings. They are building an assembly line for combining biological machines with silicon devices and creating an entirely new class of devices and a new market, with the eventual goal of building a cognitive system based on synthetic living neurons within 5-7 years.
Nabila Alibhai is the founder of inCOMMONS, an organization that develops and invigorates public spaces and builds collective leadership. inCOMMONS's New York-based sister company, limeSHIFT, uses the same principles and embeds artists into workplaces to make them more happy, purposeful and creative. She recently authored "How Colour Replaces Fear," a chapter in the book Art & The City, about art that heals divisions and unites communities.
Currently, inCOMMONS's main projects are Colour in Faith, a neighborhood solidarity project through art; building an inclusive sculptural space with Nairobi City County; experimenting with art and healing; and looking for partners to create urban sweet spaces for our greatest gardeners: (pollinators) bees, hummingbirds and butterflies. limeSHIFT is working with New York City's Carnegie Hall on a traveling installation called Espejismo.
Alibhai had a 13-year career working on different aspects of conflict transformation from communications to health and resilience. She has worked on projects in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, the United States and Switzerland. She has held positions in the Aga Khan Development Network, the United Nations and the International Organization for Migration. As a Research Fellow in MIT's Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies, she advanced her efforts to influence health, security and community solidarity through public spaces. She is now based in her home country of Kenya.
Alsarah is a Sudanese-born singer, songwriter and ethnomusicologist. Born in the capital city of Khartoum, where she spent the first eight years of her life, she relocated to Taiz, Yemen with her family to escape the ever-stifling regime in her native country. She abruptly moved to the US in 1994, when civil war broke out in Yemen. Now living in Brooklyn, NY, she is a self-proclaimed practitioner of East African retro-pop. She worked with the Nile Project on their debut release, Aswan, which was named one of the top five must-hear international albums of 2013 by NPR.
Alsarah & the Nubatones explore the many emotions and themes that mark the long journey after immigration begins. Some major influences such as Bi Ki Dude, the charismatic legend of taarab from Zanzibar and the iconoclastic Grace Jones give to Alsarah and her sister Nahid's voices an incredible richness which widens the band's musical spectrum while keeping a deep identity. Their latest album, Manara, is a quest and a celebration of all the ways in which we shift, change and grow as we seek to build a new life.
Like Batman, Christopher Ategeka witnessed the death of both his parents as a child. He grew up with immense hardships but managed to navigate an experience that left him equipped with valuable skills.
Ategeka is a serial entrepreneur, engineer and a pioneer in the unintended consequences of technologies ("UCOT") movement. He is the founder and Managing Director at LyfBase, the world's first center for the unintended consequences of technology. Ategeka coined and popularized the term "UCOT" (unintended consequences of technology) in the tech sector and the concept of "UCOT" evangelism. Before that, he founded Health Access Corps, a non-profit that works to establish sustainable health care systems on the African continent. He has been invited to speak at the Clinton Global Initiative and United Nations, and he's won many international awards for his work; he was named a 2016 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and a 2017 TED Fellow. His work has been featured in many major media publications both locally and internationally such as BBC, Forbes, and NPR. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science, and Master’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.
Bibi Bakare-Yusuf is co-founder and publishing director of Cassava Republic Press and the co-founder of Tapestry Consulting, a boutique research and training company focused on gender, sexuality and transformational issues in Nigeria. She has worked as a gender and research consultant in the public, private and development sectors for the BBC, UniFem, ActionAid, eShekels, Central Bank of Nigeria, the European Union and others.
Bakare-Yusuf has published many academic papers and regularly presents papers at academic conferences. She sits on the editorial board of a number of influential journals and is the chair of the board of The Initiative for Equal Rights, the largest organization in West Africa devoted to LGBTQ issues.
Christian Benimana is co-founder of the African Design Centre, a field-based apprenticeship that is set to be the BAUHAUS of Africa with the mission to empower the leaders who will design a more equitable, just, and sustainable world.
Benimana is currently leading the implementation of the African Design Centre. He dreamed of becoming an architect, but there were no design schools in his home country of Rwanda, so he applied and was accepted to Tongji University in Shanghai, China. Not letting his inability to speak Mandarin stand in his way, he spent a year gaining fluency before pursuing his degree in architecture. Upon returning to Rwanda, he joined MASS Design Group as a Design Fellow in 2010 and today directs the firm's Rwanda Programs and the ADC. He has taught at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology and chairs the Education Boards of the Rwandan Institute of Architects and the East African Institute of Architects. His goal is to develop the talent and potential of the next generation of African designers with socially-focused design principles. He announced the plans for the African Design Centre at the UN Solutions Summit in New York in 2015.
Niti Bhan is a global nomad whose life mission is to bridge the gap of understanding between cultures, contexts and continents. She brings a multicultural perspective to innovation for the informal economies of the emerging markets of the developing world. She is the founder and principal of Emerging Futures Lab, a multidisciplinary team of human-centered researchers, designers, engineers and economists who collaborate on design and innovation strategies for social impact and sustainable profit in the emerging consumer markets of sub-Saharan Africa.
Growing up as a third culture kid in the ASEAN of the 1970s exposed Bhan to the British and American systems of primary and secondary education whilst her university education in Engineering (Bangalore University), Design (National Institute of Design, India & the Institute of Design, IIT Chicago), and Business (majoring in Strategy at the Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh) gave her the experience of living and working across cultures and continents. Emerging Futures Lab came to life in San Francisco in 2005, operated between Singapore, the Netherlands, and East Africa from 2007 through 2013, and is now an established SME in Finland.
Born in Sierra Leone, Mahen Bonetti is a film and multimedia consultant, community organizer and former print editor. As the founder and executive director of African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF), Bonetti curates and facilitates all AFF programming, which includes their flagship New York African Film Festival (NYAFF) hosted at Film Society of Lincoln Center, Maysles Documentary Center, and BAMcinématek, in-school film education programs for New York City schools, a National Traveling Series (a screening circuit that brings NYAFF’s tailored selection of films to institutions across the United States), year-round film screenings in collaboration with institutions such as the Schomburg Center of Black Culture, Queens Museum, Bronx Museum, and MoCADA, in addition to international initiatives and collaborations, such as the Sierra Leone Cultural Conservation Program and the Lights, Camera, Africa! Film Festival based in Lagos, Nigeria.
She has served on panels for the Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ougadougou (FESPACO), the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and U.S. diplomatic offices within Africa, among others. Bonetti is the recipient of France's Chevalier De L'Ordre Des Arts Et Des Lettres, an award bestowed by French Minister of Culture.
Stephanie Busari moved to Lagos from London in July 2016 to pioneer CNN's first digital and multimedia bureau. She also reports on-air in breaking news situations for CNN International.
In April 2016 Busari exclusively obtained the "proof of life" video that showed that the missing Chibok schoolgirls who were kidnapped in Nigeria in 2014 were still alive. She was also an instrumental member of the CNN team that won a Peabody Award in May 2015 for the network's coverage of the missing girls. Busari recently won a Gracie Award for her persistence in covering this story, and she's also a previous recipient of the Outstanding Woman in the Media Awards.
Busari is a passionate community activist who curated TEDxBrixton for three years before she left London. She founded TEDxBrixton in 2013 driven by a desire to bring disparate elements of her community together and to create a platform for those who wouldn't normally have one to share their ideas worth spreading.
A passionate and adept public speaker, Busari is regularly invited to share her insights and host panels. She has spoken at UN Women, Said Business School, Oxford, Africa Gathering among others.
Over a 15-year career, Busari has worked as a news reporter, entertainment and features writer, court reporter and columnist, and she has been published in many of the UK and international media's most influential outlets, such as the BBC and Daily Mirror.
During a six-month stint in Northern Ireland in 2003, Busari spent time in some of the worst affected areas of "The Troubles" and secured interviews with a crucifixion victim, government ministers and paramilitaries. While there, she also launched and edited an award-winning lifestyle column.
A native Yoruba speaker, Busari also speaks fluent French and is currently learning Hausa.
Dr. Gus Casely-Hayford is a curator and cultural historian who focuses on African culture. He has presented two series of The Lost Kingdoms of Africa for the BBC and has lectured widely on African art and culture, advising national and international bodies (including the United Nations and the Canadian, Dutch and Norwegian Arts Councils) on heritage and culture.
In 2005, Casely-Hayford deployed his leadership, curatorial, fundraising and communications skills to organize the biggest celebration of Africa that Britain has ever hosted; more than 150 organizations put on more than 1,000 exhibitions and events to showcase African culture. Now, he is developing a National Portrait Gallery exhibition that will tell the story of abolition of slavery through 18th- and 19th-century portraits -- an opportunity to bring many of the most important paintings of black figures together in Britain for the first time.
Natsai Audrey Chieza is Founder and Creative Director of Faber Futures, a creative R&D studio that conceptualizes, prototypes and evaluates the next generation of materials that are emerging through the convergence of biology, technology and design. The studio advocates a shift in thinking away from resource extraction to material systems that are grown within the limits of our planetary boundaries. Working with partners in academia and industry, she is at the forefront of defining the future of design in the context of the Anthropocene at the advent of enabling technologies like synthetic biology.
Chieza holds an MA (Hons) in Architecture from the University of Edinburgh and an MA in Material Futures from Central Saint Martins. She began her career in design research at Textile Futures Research Centre (UK), while also pursuing her own research interests in biofabrication at the Ward Lab, University College London (UK). During this time she co-curated exhibitions and public programmes including Big Data, Designing with the Materials of Life 2015 (UK), Alive En Vie, Fondation EDF, 2014 (FR) and Postextiles, London Design Festival 2011 (UK).
Chieza has been a Designer in Residence at Ginkgo Bioworks (US), IDEO (UK), Machines Room (UK), Swedish Arts Grants Committee (SE), and the Ward Lab, University College London (UK). Her work has been widely exhibited at world-renowned galleries and museums, including the Victoria & Albert Museum (UK), Science Gallery Dublin (IR), Bauhaus Dessau (DE), Audax Textile Museum (NL) and at industry institutions like Microsoft Research (US/UK) and Fondation EDF (FR).
She has taught on degree programmes that are transitioning to biomaterials and sustainable design at Central Saint Martins, The Bartlett and Istituto Marangoni. Chieza's own body of work on biopigmented textiles has been featured in a number of leading publications, including WIRED, Next Nature, IDEO, Huffington Post, Viewpoint, Frame, Domus, LSN Global, Protein and FORM.
Llew Claasen is the Executive Director of the Bitcoin Foundation, the largest and oldest Bitcoin advocacy organization globally, headquartered in San Francisco, US. The Bitcoin Foundation coordinates the efforts of the members of the Bitcoin community, helping to create awareness of the benefits of Bitcoin, how to use it and its related technology requirements, for technologists, regulators, the
media and everyone else globally.
Llew is also Managing Partner of Newtown Partners, a venture capital firm based in Cape Town, South Africa, founded by him and Vinny Lingham. Newtown Partners invests in early stage technology startups in Africa and the US, that show global potential. He and Lingham co-founded Clicks2customers (rebranded to NMPi), now a global digital marketing agency with annual billings in excess of $100 million, and Synthasite (rebranded to Yola).
Tania Douglas's research interests include medical imaging and image analysis, the development of contextually appropriate technology to improve health and health innovation management, particularly the mechanisms of medical device innovation in South Africa.
Douglas is engaged in capacity building for biomedical engineering and needs-based health technology innovation at universities across the African continent; two such projects are "Developing Innovative Interdisciplinary Biomedical Engineering Programs in Africa," in collaboration with Northwestern University and the Universities of Lagos and Ibadan, and "African Biomedical Engineering Mobility," in collaboration with Kenyatta University, Cairo University, Addis Ababa University, the Mbarara University of Science and Technology, the University of Lagos, and the University of Pisa.
Douglas is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Global Health Innovation, an electronic open-access journal focusing on social and technological innovation for improved health, which launches in 2018. The journal aims to serve as a platform for disseminating research on health innovation in developing settings.
Douglas has been a Humboldt Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research in Cologne and at the Free University of Berlin, an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at University College London, a Visiting Professor at Kenyatta University, and a Visiting Scholar at Northwestern University. She is a fellow of the South African Academy of Engineering, a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa, and a Fellow of the International Academy for Medical and Biological Engineering.
Touria El Glaoui is the founding director of the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, which takes place in London and New York every year and, in 2018, launches in Marrakech. The fair highlights work from artists and galleries across Africa and the diaspora, bringing visibility in global art markets to vital upcoming visions.
El Glaoui began her career in the banking industry before founding 1-54 in 2013. Parallel to her career, she has organized and co-curated exhibitions of the work of her father, the Moroccan artist Hassan El Glaoui, in London and Morocco.
Chika Ezeanya-Esiobu is convinced of the ability of Africans to transform the continent by acknowledging the significance of its indigenous knowledge in all fields of human endeavor. A researcher, fiction and non-fiction writer, public intellectual and teacher, Ezeanya-Esiobu has published several research papers on aspects of Africa's indigenous knowledge. She has also been commissioned to conduct indigenous knowledge-based research by the International Development Research Center Canada, United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research,(UNU-WIDER) United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) and The Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), among others.
Ezeanya-Esiobu is the author of the historical fiction book Before We Set Sail. In its manuscript form, Before We Set Sail was one of six shortlisted out of over 250 submissions, made to the Penguin Publishers Award for African Writing in 2010. Following her TEDGlobal 2017 talk, Ezeanya-Esiobu shared an alphabet book series she had written for her daughter: Dr. Chika's ABC for the African Child (2017).
Ezeanya-Esiobu has lived and worked in four countries across three continents, and through her travels she has learned to value integrity, dignity, respect for self and others ... to be open to knowledge, to be happy and to smile a lot with her heart. Her lifetime passion is to contribute to efforts that would see to the unleashing of the suppressed creative and innovative energies buried deep in the hearts and minds of all Africans. She blogs at chikaforafrica.com.
Dr. Kamau Gachigi is the founding executive director of Gearbox, Kenya's first open makerspace for rapid prototyping, based in Nairobi. Gearbox provides a unique window into Industry 4.0 capabilities to innovators in Kenya, and it offers incubation/acceleration services. Gachigi also co-founded the Africa Innovation Ecosystems Group (AIEG), a company that focuses on creating and managing real-estate based innovation centers of varying scales.
Before establishing Gearbox, Gachigi headed the University of Nairobi's Science and Technology Park, where he founded a fab lab full of manufacturing and prototyping tools in 2009. He then built another lab at the Riruta Satellite in an impoverished neighborhood in the city. Gachigi is a member of the Global Council on the Future of Production under the World Economic Forum and of the consultative advisory group of the World Bank's Partnership for skills in the Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology.
In June 2015, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim became the first female president of Mauritius. She's been honored as one of Foreign Policy's 2015 Global Thinkers and is moving to create opportunity and growth for her island home. Gurib-Fakim has been, prior to joining the State House, the Managing Director of the Centre International de Développement Pharmaceutique (CIDP) Research and Innovation as well as professor of organic chemistry with an endowed chair at the University of Mauritius.
Gurib-Fakim has long been a leading biodiversity scientist studying and validating the flora of Mauritius, one of the world's key biodiversity hotspots. As an entrepreneur at CIDP R & I and professor of organic chemistry, she analyzed the plants from the region for their health, nutritional and cosmetic applications.
Many of humanity's most pernicious divisions -- factors that keep one person from seeing another as truly human -- are based on superstitions entrenched in societies, such as a belief in witchcraft. As a leader in the Nigerian Humanist Movement, Leo Igwe works to combat those superstitions and the human rights violations they often lead to, including anti-gay hate, sorcery and witchcraft accusations against women and children, ritual killing, human sacrifice, “untouchability,” caste discrimination and anti-blasphemy laws.
Igwe is the former Western and Southern African representative of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, and he holds a doctoral degree in religious studies from the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies, University of Bayreuth Germany.
Amar Inamdar is an investor, advisor and entrepreneur from East Africa. He is the Managing Director of an investment fund focused on the transformation of energy markets in eastern Africa. His goal is to scale world-class companies that bring clean power to millions of underserved customers and drive economic growth.
Inamdar brings more than 20 years of experience of building teams, markets and businesses in emerging economies. He managed a global portfolio of high-risk, high-impact projects for 10 years at the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank before joining the new business team at Royal Dutch Shell to drive growth in domestic African energy markets. He brings the hands-on experience of working with the boards and management teams of emerging market companies to scale and grow. He worked on transformative projects in India, Nepal, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and the Philippines. In the early 2000s, Inamdar was the founder of a UK-based advisory firm, building the team and creating a values-driven business that is still successful, 17 years later.
Inamdar graduated from the University of Oxford and has a PhD from the University of Cambridge.
Joel Jackson was working on business strategy with farmers in rural Kenya when he faced a challenge shared by millions of people on the African continent: poor access to transport. Cars and trucks can be hard to afford in Africa, and road conditions require extra-tough vehicles, especially in rural areas.
Inspired, Jackson raised the funding to start Mobius Motors, a company that has already rolled out its first-generation vehicle. Their next-generation vehicle, Mobius II, is a simplified and ruggedized SUV set to retail for about 1,300,000 KES (Kenyan shillings), or about US$12,600 when it launches in 2018.
Composer, producer, cellist and kora virtuoso Tunde Jegede brings a new vision to contemporary African and Western classical music. Jegede studied both Western classical music and the Griot tradition of West Africa from a very early age, attending the Purcell School of Music in London and learning from a master of the kora in the Gambia, Amadu Bansang Jobarteh.
This dual cultural inheritance has informed Jegede's work as a composer and multi-instrumentalist, creating links between European classical music and that of Africa, between solo cello and kora. Jegede is the founder of the Art Ensemble of Lagos and the African Classical Music Ensemble. He is also the curator of Living Legacies, Gambia's traditional music archive, and the director of New Horizons, an educational initiative to develop young musicians in Nigeria. He is a TED Fellow.
Paul Kagame is the sixth President of Rwanda. Since taking office in 2000, Kagame has worked to lift one million Rwandans out of poverty, to move toward universal primary education and to increase life expectancy among his country's citizens.
Kagame speaks around the world on African development, leadership and the potential of ICT as a dynamic industry as well as an enabler for Africa's socioeconomic transformation. Kagame serves as chair of the UN Secretary General's Advisory Group on MDGs.
Vimbayi Kajese's experience in media spans over 10 years and includes: Cofounding a CSR consultancy turned magazine in China, The Charitarian; training Fortune 500 executives in PR crisis management; women's activism, as a former rape crisis volunteer; hosting panels at different international conferences with heads of state, global captains of industry, thought leaders and influential disruptors, but most notably, as China's first African to anchor state news TV which broadcasts to over a billion viewers. For these, Vimbayi is recognized as African Leadership Network's "New Generation Leader", Zimbabwe's Top 10 "Most Influential Under 40", Chinese government appointed "Special Friendship Envoy and Cultural Ambassador" and World Economic Forum's "Young Global Leader”. In addition to constantly trying to improve her public speaking and Muay Thai training skills, she is also learning how to be a better champion for people with Autism.
Zachariah Mampilly has lived, worked and studied in Africa, South Asia and North America. An expert on the politics of both violent and nonviolent resistance, he is the author of Rebel Rulers: Insurgent Governance and Civilian Life during War (2011), based on extensive fieldwork in rebel-controlled zones of Congo, Sri Lanka and South Sudan. His 2015 book, Africa Uprising: Popular Protest and Political Change (with Adam Branch), examines the ongoing Third Wave of African protest and provides an inside look at recent movements in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda and Sudan.
Mampilly writes widely on South Asian and African politics for a variety of publications, including Al Jazeera, The Hindu, The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs and N+1. He's a professor of political science and Africana studies at Vassar College in New York, and he spent 2012-2013 teaching at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, as a Fulbright Scholar.
More than four billion people around the world live outside the protection of the law. Vivek Maru founded Namati in 2011 to grow the movement for legal empowerment, building cadres of grassroots legal advocates, also known as "community paralegals," in ten countries so far. The advocates have worked with more than 65,000 people to protect community lands, enforce environmental law and secure basic rights to healthcare and citizenship. Namati convenes the Global Legal Empowerment Network, more than 1,000 groups from 150 countries who are learning from one another and collaborating on common challenges. Thanks to their work, access to justice is part of the UN's new global development framework, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
From 2003 to 2007, Maru co-founded and co-directed the Sierra Leonean organization Timap for Justice, a pioneering model for delivering justice services in the context of a weak state and a plural legal system. From 2008 to 2011, he served as senior counsel in the Justice Reform Group of the World Bank. His work focused on rule of law reform and governance, primarily in West Africa and South Asia. In 1997–1998 he lived in a hut of dung and sticks in a village in Kutch, his native place, in western India, working on watershed management and girls' education with two grassroots development organizations, Kutch Mahila Vikas Sanghathan and Sahjeevan.
At Babban Gona, Kola Masha oversees a program that franchises thousands of mini maize and rice farmer cooperatives across northern Nigeria, dramatically increasing the profitability of the smallholder members 2.8 to 3.5 times above the national average. This dramatic increase in net income is accomplished by delivering an integrated holistic package of training, farm inputs and marketing services, on credit. Babban Gona has been able to deliver this credit while maintaining one of the highest repayment rates in the world, currently above 99.99 percent. The project was created to attract youth to agriculture and away from the looming instability of extremist groups.
Previous to this project, Masha was a managing director and CEO of a major subsidiary in the Notore Group, one of Nigeria’s leading agricultural conglomerates, where he raised US$24 million to develop an integrated agricultural trading, production and processing business.
Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga is the author of Transient Workspaces: Technologies of Everyday Innovation in Zimbabwe (MIT Press, 2014) and the editor of What Do Science, Technology, and Innovation Mean from Africa? His next book, The Mobile Workshop: The Tsetse Fly and African Knowledge Production, will explore the role of African knowledge, skills and practices in the production of "tsetse science" from its earliest to its present forms.
Mavhunga has been working with Africa-based colleagues to address the serious question of graduate and youth unemployment through pedagogic and community level interventions. During vacation from MIT, he returns to Africa to train, mentor and inspire university students, and to his rural village in Zimbabwe to work with his own people, mixing their knowledge and his global experiences in self-development projects. He has come to the conclusion that the project of democracy, development and security in Africa is doomed unless effective, cost-efficient and well-thought-out efforts are found to deal with youth unemployment and unemployability. The consequences reach far beyond Africa, and Mavhunga has some simple but practical solutions.
The Guardian has referred to Thandiswa Mazwai as "South Africa's finest female contemporary singer." Her influence in the post-millennial South African sound can be heard far and wide -- new groups idolize and emulate her work, while globally, she effortlessly channels the legends such as Mariam Makeba, Busi Mhlongo, Fela and Hugh Masekela.
Mazwai's debut album, Zabalaza (2004), reached double platinum status, and her critically acclaimed second album, Ibokwe (2009), reached gold status within weeks of release. Her third solo studio album is Belede (2016), a collection of reinterpretations of legendary South African jazz and protest anthems from the 1950s and 1960s golden era. Mazwai's selection is inspired by the music she listened to whilst growing up, and the title, Belede, is named after and dedicated to her late mother, a major influence in her music and political stance.
Yvonne Chioma Mbanefo is a digital strategist with a background in digital media, information design and education. She is the co-founder of T-One Technologies, an IT solutions firm.
Mbanefo works to make African languages accessible through digital, mobile and TV platforms -- connecting the dots between languages, culture and identity. Her work and research led to the publishing of the first illustrated Igbo dictionary for children, which became a bestseller. Her "Learn Igbo Now" series of learning materials include dual language storybooks, activity books and videos.
Now Mbanefo is working with other African language communities to develop similar learning tools. Her goal: to reawaken the desire in the next generation to learn about their languages and culture.
Mbanefo is a co-convener of the Annual International Igbo Conference, hosted by SOAS, University of London. She also heads the team developing a web-based archive and encyclopedia of Igbo studies. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, United Kingdom and has won awards for her contributions to Igbo language.
Sara Menker is founder and CEO of Gro Intelligence, a technology company that is bridging data gaps across the global agriculture sector, empowering decision makers and creating a more informed, connected, efficient and productive global agriculture industry.
Prior to founding Gro, Menker was a vice president in Morgan Stanley's commodities group. She began her career in commodities risk management, where she covered all commodity markets, and she subsequently moved to trading, where she managed a trading portfolio. Menker is a trustee of the Mandela Institute For Development Studies (MINDS) and a trustee of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). She was named a Global Young Leader by the World Economic Forum and is a fellow of the African Leadership Initiative of the Aspen Institute.
With masked face and powerful gestures, Sethembile Msezane disrupts and deconstructs the process of commemorative practice in South Africa, demanding space next to colonial-era statues for her country's, and her gender's, erased histories. In one iconic work, she performed at the removal of the John Cecil Rhodes statue at the University of Cape Town ("Chapungu: The Day Rhodes Fell," 2015), and starting in 2013 she performed a series of pieces called "Public Holiday" that place her body in contrast to colonial-era monuments in Cape Town's CBD.
Msezane is a ANTI Festival International Prize for Live Art nominee (2017). She is the TAF & Sylt Emerging Artist Residency Award winner (2016), and she is the first recipient of the Rising Light award at the Mbokodo Awards. She is also a a Barclays L’Atelier Top 10 Finalist (2016). Her 2017 solo show at Gallery MOMO is titled "Kwasuka Sukel: Re-imagined Bodies of a (South African) '90s Born Woman", and features sculptural work that places colonial images in the context of Victorian-style furniture and dress, reframing and reclaiming a part of colonial history. She was one of the selected artists for gallery solo projects at the FNB Joburg Art Fair (2017), and her work is currently housed in the Zeitz MOCAA collection as well as Iziko South African National Gallery's collection.
Selected group shows include "Women's Work and The Art of Disruptions" at the Iziko South African National Gallery (2016), "Dis(colour)ed Margins" at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe (2017), "Re[as]sisting Narratives" at Framer Framed, Amsterdam (2016), "Dance, if you want to enter my country!/ Global Citizen" at GoetheOnMain, Johannesburg (2016), "Nothing Personal" at SMAC Gallery, Cape Town, #theopening at Greatmore Studios, Cape Town (2016) and "Translations" at Emergent Art Space and Reed College, Portland, Oregon (2015).
Kisilu Musya is a small-scale farmer from Mutomo, Kenya. For the past half decade, he has been filming with camcorders and mobile phones to capture the life of his family, his village and the impacts of climate change. He has filmed floods, droughts and storms but also the more human impacts -- his kids are sent home from school when he can't pay the fees, and men are moving to towns in search for jobs. But he refuses to give up.
Musya has had a leading role in bringing his community together to find common solutions to tackle climate change. His footage has been part of several short docs that have won awards internationally. In March 2017, Kisilu’s full story in the documentary Thank You for the Rain premiered to critical acclaim at CPH:DOX film festival.
For too many people in the world, Robert Neuwirth suggests, the world's globalized economic system has turned out to be a capitalism of decay. Only by embracing true sharing strategies, he argues, can people develop an equitable vision of the future.
Neuwirth is the author of two previous books: Stealth of Nations (2011), on the global growth of the street markets and cross-border smuggling, and Shadow Cities (2005), on the power of squatter communities and shantytowns. His work has appeared in documentary films, on radio and television, and in many publications. In addition to writing, he has taught at Rikers Island, New York City’s jail, and at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Dr. Kevin Yana Njabo is the Associate Director and the Africa Director for the Center for Tropical Research (CTR), a part of the University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. He also holds a joint Assistant Professor appointment at both Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, and the Department of Environmental Health Sciences. He is responsible for supervising CTR’s research teams in Africa and coordinating the development of UCLA’s newly established Congo Basin Institute (CBI) in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Dr. Njabo also serves as a Visiting Professor at the National University of Rwanda and the Higher Institute of Environmental Sciences, Yaoundé, Cameroon.
His research interests are examining the link between biodiversity and human health where he attempts to address the underlying causes of this emergence and how they relate to changes in biodiversity. His area of research focuses on Africa as a platform for case studies of these relationships with the hope that this work will help develop new interdisciplinary tools and methods to forecast and mitigate risks to biodiversity and health, creating sound strategies to enhance the societal benefits of conserving biodiversity. He serves on several professional bodies including the Board of Governors and Global Vice President of the Society for Conservation Biology; Council Member of the Pan African Ornithological Congress Committee and member of the editorial board for Austin Environmental Sciences, a newly initiated peer-reviewed open access journal with an aim to develop a platform for innovative researchers working in the areas of Environmental Sciences.
Ndidi Nwuneli is a serial social entrepreneur who is committed to scaling social innovation on the African Continent. She is the founder of LEAP Africa, a youth leadership nonprofit organization, and co-founder of AACE Food Processing & Distribution, an indigenous agro-processing company that was founded in 2009 to fight malnutrition, reduce post-harvest losses among smallholder farmers and displace imports. She is also the managing partner of Sahel Capital Partners & Advisory, a consulting and advisory firm focused on unlocking the nutrition and agriculture potential in West Africa.
Nwuneli started her career as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company, working in their Chicago, New York and Johannesburg Offices. She holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree with honors in Multinational and Strategic Management from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Nwuneli was recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and received a National Honor – Member of the Federal Republic from the Nigerian Government. She was listed as one of the 20 Youngest Power African Women by Forbes and is a 2018 Aspen New Voices Fellow. She serves on numerous international and local boards including Nestle Nigeria Plc., Nigerian Breweries Plc., Globethics.net Switzerland, Godrej Consumer Products Ltd. India, Fairfax Africa Holdings Canada, Royal DSM Sustainability Board, Netherlands and the African Philanthropy Forum.
Nwuneli is the author of Social Innovation in Africa: A Practical Guide for Scaling Impact published by Routledge in 2016 and Walking for God in the Marketplace.
Over his career, Dayo Ogunyemi has worked as an entrepreneur, investor, music journalist, DJ, producer, entertainment and IP lawyer and strategy consultant. Now he advises, promotes and invests in companies in Africa's creative and entrepreneurial scenes, including startups in technology, fashion and apparel, event production, content aggregation, film production and distribution. 234 Media's portfolio includes mSurvey, Cinemart, Starflix Cinemas, House of Deola Sagoe, Pixaplex and the African Movie Academy Awards.
Prior to 234 Media, Ogunyemi founded Lexscape, a start-up that used AI and expert system technology to change the consumption and practice of law. He subsequently co-founded Constant Capital, a West African boutique investment bank. Ogunyemi has long been interested in the impact of technology and media on how societies and economies develop, especially in Africa, stemming back to 1991 when he founded Naijanet (the first Nigerian online community) as a freshman at MIT.
Nnedi Okorafor is an award-winning novelist of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism. Born in the US to Nigerian immigrant parents, Okorafor is known for weaving African cultures into creative settings and memorable characters. Her books include Lagoon (a British Science Fiction Association Award finalist for best novel), Who Fears Death (a World Fantasy Award winner for best novel), Kabu Kabu (a Publisher's Weekly best book for Fall 2013), Akata Witch (an Amazon.com best book of the year), Zahrah the Windseeker (winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature) and The Shadow Speaker (a CBS Parallax Award winner).
Her 2016 novel The Book of Phoenix is an Arthur C. Clarke Award finalist, while the first book in the Binti Trilogy won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novella. Her children’s book Chicken in the Kitchen won an Africana Book Award. The final installment of the Binti Trilogy, titled The Night Masquerade, will be released in September 2017, and the sequel to Akata Witch (titled Akata Warrior) is was published in October 2017. Meanwhile, her book Who Fears Death has been optioned by HBO, with Game of Thrones' George R.R. Martin as executive producer.
Okorafor is a full professor at the University at Buffalo, New York (SUNY).
Fredros Okumu is director of science at the Ifakara Health Institute (IHI). Since 2008, Okumu has been studying human-mosquito interactions and developing new techniques to complement existing malaria interventions and accelerate efforts towards elimination. His other interests include quantitative ecology of residual malaria vectors, mathematical simulations to predict effectiveness of interventions, improved housing for marginalized communities and prevention of child malnutrition.
Okumu was awarded the Young Investigator Award by the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in 2009, a Welcome Trust Intermediate Research Fellowship in Public Health and Tropical Medicine (2014-2019) and, most recently, a Howard Hughes-Gates International Research Scholarship (2018-2023). He is co-chair of the Malaria Eradication Research Agenda consultative group on tools for elimination and a co-chair of the WHO Vector Control Working Group on new tools for malaria vector control. Okumu was named one of the "Top 100 Global Thinkers" by Foreign Policy in 2016.
Qudus Onikeku is the founder and artistic director of YK Projects Paris and QDanceCenter Lagos. Through his international artistic engagements, his interest is drawn toward the aesthetics and artistry of African peoples in general, both within the continent and in the diaspora. His visceral practice of dance and engagement with the processes of decolonization have led him to develop a research-based practice about the body's capacity to store memories and inherited traumas -- and to restore and heal both the dancer and the audience.
Qudus began training as an acrobat at age five (he's a graduate of the French Centre National des Art de Cirque), and he began his dance career in the Surulere area of Lagos at age 13. Now, his globally known work encompasses dance, teachings, writings and research projects, and public space happenings. His works in the past decade includes: "Do we need colacola to dance?" (Lagos, Cairo, Johannesburg, Maputo, Nairobi, Yaounde, 2007); "My Exile Is in My Head" (Paris, 2010); "QADDISH" (Avignon Festival, 2013); "We Almost Forgot" (Berlin, Lagos, Abuja. 2016); and "Infinite Nowness" and "Right Here, Right Now" (Venice Biennale, 2017).
DK Osseo-Asare is co-founder and principal of Low Design Office (LOWDO), an architecture and integrated design studio based in Austin, Texas and Tema, Ghana, and a design lecturer in engineering at Ashesi University, where he helps run the Ashesi Design Lab (D:lab). Osseo-Asare is a TEDGlobal Fellow and a Fulbright Scholar, and he did his degrees in kinetic systems and network power.
Osseo-Asare's research spans design innovation, open-source urbanism, digital fabrication and architecture robots. He led urban design for Koumbi City and Anam City new town projects in Ghana and Nigeria. He is a co-founder of the Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (AMP) which won the Rockefeller Foundation's Centennial Innovation Challenge and the 2017 SEED award for public interest design. Osseo-Asare was named the Africa 4 Tech Digital Champion for #Edtech for his work on the platform.
Twenty years ago, Peter Ouko walked into a police station in Kenya seeking answers to the circumstances under which his wife had been found murdered and the body dumped next to the police station fence. Unbeknown to him, the hunter would soon find himself as the hunted, and in a journey through the then broken down judicial system, he found himself convicted and sent to the gallows for a crime he maintains he did not commit.
Instead of bitterness, Ouko decided to forgive his tormentors and make the best of his time in prison, becoming the first inmate to graduate with a University of London Diploma in Law while behind bars. He is currently in his final year as an LLB student in the same University.
In his dual role as an Ambassador of the African Prisons Project and Founder of the Youth Safety Awareness Initiative, Ouko today champions access to justice for inmates and the indolent in society while using social enterprise to advocate for a crime free world. His goal: to demystify justice and have a crime free world underpinned by the rule of the law.
As CEO and co-founder of Zipline, a drone delivery company focused on health care, Keller Rinaudo works with the country of Rwanda to make last-mile deliveries of blood to half of the transfusing facilities in the country. The ultimate goal is to put each of the 12 million citizens of Rwanda within a 15–30 minute delivery of any essential medical product they need, no matter where they live.
Zipline is also working with GAVI, UPS, USAID and several other countries in East Africa. The company is a team of 60 aerospace and software engineers headquartered in San Francisco, CA. It's funded by Sequoia Capital, Google Ventures, Paul Allen, Jerry Yang and Stanford University. Rinaudo is also a professional rock climber ranked top 10 in sport climbing. He has scaled alpine cliffs in France, underwater caves in Kentucky and the limestone towers of Yangshuo, China.
Sauti Sol is an award-winning Afro-pop group from Kenya, crowned Best Group (Africa) at the MTV Africa Music Awards in 2016, along with the 2016 Soundcity MTV Awards and African Muzik Magazine Awards. Comprising Bien-Aime Baraza, Willis Austin Chimano, Polycarp Otieno and Savara Mudigi, the group mixes their soulful voices with vocal harmonies, guitar riffs and drum rhythm. In 2016 Sauti Sol made history by being the first Kenyan artists to run a successful and professional nationwide tour. After the Kenyan completion of Sauti Sol’s Live and Die in Afrika tour, it took onto the world stage with a focus on African countries and a detailed American tour.
Sauti Sol’s discography includes three albums: Mwanzo (2008), Sol Filosofia (2011) and the blockbuster Live and Die in Afrika (2015), as well as a 2012 self-titled collaborative EP with South African avant-garde rapper/producer Spoek Mathambo.
It's a fundamental logistical problem: not everyone, or everywhere, has a traditional address, and GPS coordinates can be tough to use. While working in the music industry, Chris Sheldrick noticed that bands and equipment kept getting lost on the way to gigs, and he took up the mission to create a better addressing system for the world. He worked with a mathematician friend to devise the what3words algorithm that has named every 3-metre square in the world. Started in 2013, the system is being used by eight national postal services, and has a range of integration partners across the world in fields as varied as humanitarian aid, logistics, and in-car navigation.
Since 1986, George Steinmetz has completed more than 40 major photo essays for National Geographic and 25 stories for GEO magazine in Germany, exploring the most remote stretches of Arabia's Empty Quarter to the unknown tree people of Irian Jaya. His expeditions to the Sahara and Gobi deserts have been featured in separate "National Geographic Explorer" programs. In 2006 he was awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation to document the work of scientists in the Dry Valleys and volcanoes of Antarctica.
Steinmetz began his career in photography after hitchhiking through Africa for 28 months. He then spent fifteen years photographing all of the world’s extreme deserts while piloting a motorized paraglider. This experimental aircraft enables him to capture unique images of the world, inaccessible by traditional aircraft and most other modes of transportation. He has authored four books, and his current project is documenting the challenge of meeting humanity’s rapidly expanding demand for food.
Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò is professor of African political thought at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University in the US. As he writes: "I was born in Nigeria. I lived there all my life save for the five unbroken years that I sojourned in Canada in search of the proverbial Golden Fleece. By itself, my living in Nigeria does not warrant comment. But the discovery that I speak of put that life in a completely different light; hence these remarks. All my life in Nigeria, I lived as a Yorùbá, a Nigerian, an African, and a human being. I occupied, by turns, several different roles. I was a hugely successful Boy Scout. I was a well-read African cultural nationalist. I was a member of the Nigerian province of the worldwide communion of the Church of England who remains completely enamored of the well-crafted sermon and of church music, often given to impromptu chanting from memory of whole psalms, the Te Deum or the Nunc Dimittis. I was a student leader of national repute. I was an aspiring revolutionary who once entertained visions of life as a guerilla in the bush. I was a frustrated journalist who, to his eternal regret, could not resist the call of the teaching profession. I was an ardent football player of limited talent. I was a budding spiritualist who has since stopped professing faith. Overall, I always believed that I was put on Earth for the twin purposes of raising hell for and catching it from those who would dare shame humanity through either ignorance or injustice or poverty."
Táíwò is the author of Legal Naturalism: A Marxist Theory of Law (1996/2015), How Colonialism Preempted Modernity in Africa (2010) and Africa Must Be Modern: A Manifesto (2012/2014).
Chef, restaurateur and cookbook author Pierre Thiam was born in Dakar, Senegal. He is the chief visionary officer and co-founder of Yolélé Foods Inc.
Thiam moved to New York City in the late eighties where he became a chef and opened two restaurants in Brooklyn, Yolele and Le Grand Dakar, both visionary African bistros that became culinary and cultural centers for Africans from the continent and the diaspora. Thiam is also the Executive Chef of NOK by Alara in Lagos, Nigeria.
Thiam is the author of Yolele! Recipes from the Heart of Senegal, a finalist for IACP Best First Cookbook, and of Senegal: Modern Recipes from the Source to the Bowl, nominated for the James Beard Award for Best International Cookbook.
Iké Udé's ongoing photographic self-portrait series, "Sartorial Anarchy," showa him dressed in varied costumes across geography and time. As a Nigerian-born, New York–based artist, conversant with the world of fashion and celebrity, Udé gives conceptual aspects of performance and representation a new vitality, melding his own theatrical selves and multiple personae with his art. Udé plays with the ambiguities of the marketplace and art world, particularly in his seminal art, culture and fashion magazine, aRUDE and recently his style blog, theCHIC INDEX.
Udé is the author of Beyond Decorum (MIT Press, 2000), which accompanied a traveling exhibition of his photography, and Style File: The World’s Most Elegantly Dressed (2008), a remarkable volume that profiles 55 arbiters of style, including Isabel and Ruben Toledo, Victoire de Castellane, André Leon Talley, Dita Von Teese, Ute Lemper, Lapo Elkann and many others. His work is in the permanent collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Smithsonian Museum of Art and in many private collections. The esteemed online auction house, Artsy, ranked him -- along with Rembrandt, van Gogh, Warhol -- among the top 10 "Masters of the Self-Portrait." He has made the coveted Vanity Fair magazine's International Best Dressed List in 2009, 2012 and 2015.
If you take a walk, the animals you're most likely see are birds. Birds are some of the most fascinating creatures on earth. We wake up to their songs in the morning; they're in our cities, farms and even schools. They are, however, facing many challenges, and we should do something to help them.
By age 14, Washington Wachira was already on a career path towards nature interpretation and conservation. Wachira holds a BSc in environmental science and is currently taking an MSc animal ecology from Kenyatta University. Washington founded Youth Conservation Awareness Programme (YCAP) to nurture young environmental enthusiasts in Kenya. He is a keen writer and has published multiple articles in a variety of local and international publications. As a result of his conservation passion, he has won many awards including Mr. Environment and Ambassador for Nairobi Province in 2012 and The Daisy Rothschild Award in 2015. He is a passionate and talented nature photographer featured in many publications worldwide. He has won multiple photo awards including the first position in the underwater category of the 2016 East African Wild Life Photo Competition and Honourable Mention in the Best of Nikon Kenya 2016 Photography Competition.
Wachira is an experienced safari guide and has led many expeditions and research projects across Kenya. He founded Cisticola Tours, a tour company that leads professional birding and nature tours across Kenya and the rest of East Africa. Through Cisticola Tours, he has been leading multiple sustainability projects to support bird conservation and help communities to appreciate birds and nature. He is also a member of the Bird Committee of Nature Kenya, Chair of the National Bird of Kenya Sub-committee, the Country Representative for Kenya at Youth Africa Birding and Manager for the Kenya Bird Map Project. He is a National Geographic Explorer for his work with African Crowned Eagles, and he is a birds of prey graduate student with The Peregrine Fund.
Magatte Wade's first company, Adina World Beverages, brought Senegalese bissap to U.S. consumers through Whole Foods Market, Wegmans, and United Natural Foods, Inc. Her second company, Tiossan, brought Senegalese skin care recipes to U.S. consumers through Nordstrom’s and boutique beauty retailers. She is launching a third consumer brand in the U.S. in fall 2017, currently in stealth mode.
Based on her experiences creating consumer brands and building agricultural and manufacturing capacity in Senegal, Magatte has spoken at dozens of universities including Oxford, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, MIT, etc. as well as at global conferences on innovation and economic development in France, Dubai, Guatemala, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Rwanda, Gabon, Senegal, and more. She writes for the Huffington Post, Barron’s, and the U.K. Guardian. She is a Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum at Davos and has appeared on the cover of Forbes Afrique. She was also named one of the “Twenty Young Power Women of Africa” by Forbes U.S.
Ghada Wali believes graphic design can change the world. The multiple-award-winning designer developed an Arabic typeface that was chosen as one of the best 100 graphic design pieces in the world by the Society of Typographic Arts in Chicago, and her work has been featured in art exhibits around the world. Wali's work most recently won the Granshan Competition in Munich, as well as two Adobe Design Achievement awards in San Diego, and she is featured in UN Women Egypt and on Forbes's "30 Under 30 Europe 2017" list (Arts & Immigrants category). Wali's design experience includes MI7 Cairo, Fortune Promoseven and J. Walter Thompson, as well as teaching Graphic Design in both the German and American Universities in Cairo.
At the same time, Wali is busy creating fascinating independent projects, such as "Meen Homma," which created a poster campaign that confronted stereotypes about Egyptians. It went viral as an online campaign in the Arab region. As she says, "My independent research projects have strengthened my skills in laboratory work and developed an eye for details."