1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – We should all be feminists

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a renowned Nigerian novelist. She is the author of Half of a Yellow Sun, which won the 2007 Orange Prize For Fiction; and Purple Hibiscus, which won the 2005 Best First Book Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the 2004 Debut Fiction Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. In 2009, her collection of short stories, The Thing around Your Neck was published. She was named one of the twenty most important fiction writers today under 40 years old by The New Yorker and was the guest speaker at the 2012 annual Commonwealth lecture. She featured in the April 2012 edition of Time Magazine, celebrated as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Half of a Yellow Sun, has been named ‘the best of the best’ in the Baileys women’s prize for fiction.

2. Fadekemi Akinfaderin-Agarau – Finding my calling

Fadekemi Akinfaderin-Agarau discontinued a career in medicine and left the United States after a life changing experience working as a HIV researcher in South Africa. She is a co-founder of Education as a Vaccine, a non-profit organization that builds and implements innovative programs to improve the quality of life of vulnerable children and young people in Nigeria. EVA challenges the social, cultural and structural factors that fuel the HIV epidemic and contribute to the poor sexual and reproductive health status of adolescent and young people.

3. Kakenya Ntaiya – A girl who demanded school

Kakenya Ntaiya made a deal with her father: She would undergo the traditional Maasai rite of passage of female circumcision if he would let her go to high school. Ntaiya tells the fearless story of continuing on to college, and of working with her village elders to build a school for girls in her community. It’s the educational journey of one that altered the destiny of 125 young women.

4. Chioma Omeruah – Chasing your dreams

Don’t be a waste. Chioma Omerua, aka C-flow, aka Chi-gul, is a singer and actress who was born in Lagos, where she lived until she moved to the U.S in 1994. She remained in the U.S for the next 12 years where she continued to pursue her passions while teaching drama to kids and in the high school where she worked as a French teacher. Chioma has taken part in various theater productions such as Lorraine Hansberry’s “Raisin in the Sun”, one act plays such as “It’s not my fault” and has dabbled in the genre of absurdism, taking on roles in a play called “The Bald Soprano”. Since returning home to Nigeria in 2006, she has been in two musical productions; “Avoice for Ella” (a Nigerian adaptation of the Cinderella Story) and Disney’s “The Lion King” in conjunction with standard bearers school, Lagos. She currently resides in Abuja where she is still pursuing her passions as a comedian, and MC/compere, while working a regular 9 to 5 job. Chigul also is a talented linguist and voice-over artist. She speaks 5 languages and can imitate 12 different accents.

5. Zain Asher – Trust your struggle

Zain Asher discusses how to harness your success. Zain was born and raised in London. She graduated from Oxford University where she studied French and Spanish (graduating with a distinction in oral Spanish). In 2006, she earned her MSc. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she focused on business and financial news. Asher is a national business and personal finance correspondent for CNN, where she appears across platforms covering the latest news on money and the economy.

6. Kimberly Bryant – Defy impossible

Kimberly Bryant founded Black Girls Code to introduce programming and technology to a new generation of coders; coders who will become builders of technological innovation and of their own futures.

7. Shakirah Bourne – The curse of the starving artist

Shakirah Bourne is a Barbadian writer, owner of freelance writing and editing company, getWrite! and Partner in Caribbean film production company, Let’s Do This Filmz. Her first collection of award-winning short stories, In Time of Need, is scheduled to be released in November 2013. Her first feature film, a comedy-drama called Payday. She has a second film, a psychological thriller called Two Smart in the works.

8. Michaela DePrince – From ‘devil’s child’ to star ballerina

Born Mabinty Bangura in 1995, Michaela DePrince had many identities. One of them was “devil’s child” thanks to her vitiligo. Michaela grew up as an orphan in Sierra Leone during the civil war. Her life was difficult from the start, with her father killed by militant rebels and her mother dying of starvation. Frequently malnourished, mistreated and derided, life only got worse when she had to flee to a refugee camp after her orphanage was bombed. In 1999 at the age of four, an American family adopted Michaela. Inspired by a picture she found in Sierra Leone, Michaela began to train in ballet. Her dream was to look as happy as the woman in the picture. It was only after many years of hard work and perseverance that Michaela’s dream came true. She was finally happy. Through her story she wants to encourage young people to aspire to a dream.

9. Peninah Nthenya Musyimi – I am the change

Peninah was born and raised in the Mathare slums of Nairobi looking at a future of starting her own slum family. She decided to change the course of her life with perseverance, letting herself be guided by the words ‘always look for possibilities within your reach’. She walked 16km to her high school every day, which she could effort with financial help of the slums area chief. After only one month of training, she managed to get in the university basketball team, so she would be able to pay her fees and study law. She started Safe Spaces – an organization where she now mentors and empowers 1200 girls from the slums to change the course of their life.

10. Minna Salami – To change the world

Minna Salami shares images of women from around the world, highlighting how out of touch the stereotypes are from reality. She tells powerful stories of her diverse grandmothers whose lives have shaped hers and of how images of African women in the West do not represent the experiences of her own friends and family. And how, very simply, African women like the same things as women everywhere. Minna Salami is the founder of the award-winning African feminist blog, MsAfropolitan.

11. Elizabeth Nyamayaro – An invitation to men who want a better world for women

Around the world, women still struggle for equality in basic matters like the right to drive and to marry when they choose. In a bid to enlist everyone, men and women, as allies for change, Elizabeth Nyamayaro invented the #HeForShe Twitter campaign, which created 1.2 billion conversations about a more equal world.

12. Maggie Aderin-Pocock – The dawn of a new space era

British space scientist and TV presenter Maggie Aderin-Pocock talks about her ideas to democratise space travel and exploration.

13. Ndidi Nwuneli – Rage for change

Ndidi Nwuneli established LEAP Africa in 2002. LEAP Africa provides leadership, ethics and management training and coaching for youth, business owners, social entrepreneurs and the public sector. Featured image via Uptown Magazine.


Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.