TOP 10 #FascinatingAfricans2012

Mohammed Morsi the Egyptian president is the only African on the 10-man TIME magazine list of nominees for “Person of the Year 2012”. The other two ‘Africans’ on the list that also includes South Korean pop sensation PSY, Malala Yousafzai and even Neil Armstrong are Americans, Barack Obama and Gabby Douglas.


Surely, coming up with a list of Africans that have stood out this year is no easy task. While many people are more likely to name those close to them as their 2012 Most Fascinating Africans, here is my list 21 days to the new year.

STEPHEN KIPROTICH. Someone earlier today threatened that if this 23-year old man is not named ‘Man of the Year’ in Uganda, they are boycotting the newspaper that gives out the award. And I couldn’t agree more. Like many that Sunday afternoon, the hope for a medal was down to the last drop. And then at the 39km mark, what was going to end as a fruitless Olympic event took a very unexpected twist. He ran towards the finish line beating two Kenyan runners to the medal. His life changed in no time but yes, this national hero not only used a 42km hankie to wipe the misery of Uganda’s Olympic woes but secured Africa’s spot during the closing ceremony. What a moment it was for Uganda as the national anthem played during the games’ closing ceremony!


Thank you Kip for the best 2 hours; 8 minutes and 1 second of 2012. Keep them coming. Other sports stars worth the mention are Oscar Pistorius (most successful paralympian), David Rudisha whose spectacular 800m final performance in London made me a proud Ugandan-Kenyan and Tirunesh Dibaba.

JOYCE BANDA. Ranked 71st Most Powerful Woman in the World, meet Malawi’s Joyce Banda. The continent has this year been blighted by the death of African presidents including Malawi’s Bingu wa Mutharika. Following Mutharika’s demise, she took over and in no time, her decisions lured world attention to focus on the second female head-of-state the continent has produced. From her vow to arrest Sudan’s Omar Hassan al-Bashir, support for minority rights to the sale of the presidential jet and fleet, Banda surely got the whisperers at work.

Who is this woman?  ImageJoyce Banda.

ZACHARY KIMOTHO. We live in a world where stories too rare teach us to be grateful of who we are and what we have. The story of this man moved not one heart but thousands around the globe. A spinal injury victim, Kimotho wheeled himself across Africa and raised $900k to open a spinal rehab center in Kenya.


According to Al Jazeera, around 15,000 Kenyans suffer spinal injuries each year yet until Zack’s brave move, the nearest spinal injury relief center was in Cape Town. Once completed the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Unit in Nairobi will provide accessible yet affordable care to spine injury victims. True African hero.

JOHN ATTA MILLS. Four African presidents have died in the past eleven months but it was the demise of Ghana’s Atta Mills that fascinated me more and oh how I wish more leaders focus on leaving a better legacy. Image

A mourner part of the mammoth crowd that attended the state funeral is quoted to have said, ‘Very few presidents if any will be mourned genuinely the way we have mourned Atta Mills today’. It is the pain that such leaders like Atta Mills are so rare to find that makes men like him more than fascinating.

PROSCOVIA ALENGOT OROMAIT. In 2011, Pierre-Luc Dusseault a 19 and 11 months old teenager was elected into the Canadian House of Commons becoming the world’s youngest legislator. In September this year, a Ugandan teenager smashed that record when she won the Usuk County by-election following the death of her father.


Uganda’s ‘Baby of the House’ (unofficial title given to the youngest member of a parliamentary house) sparked mixed reactions but after all was said and done, Africa’s youngest* MP now a student at the Uganda Christian University has not withered like many predicted. In an article I wrote about Alengot, I stated that much as it is a fact few people would proudly throw around, Uganda made a headline that was to many ridiculous but one I welcomed with open arms for it was mostly positive. And I strongly disagree with those that see this as some sort of exploitation. Alengot’s salary and perks don’t really sound exploitative. 🙂

ALIKO DANGOTE AND FOLORUNSHA ALAKIJA: Image The year came in with stories such as ‘Occupy Nigeria’ which seemed to spur on the unstable side of this powerhouse. But trust the Nigerians. Names such as D’Banj, P-Square and recently Enebeli Elebuwa (R.I.P) could have made the headlines but these two sealed their place like no other. Dangote is the continent’s richest man for the second year running. Little surprise there. However, a new name sprouted out of ‘9ja land’. Folorunsha Alakija. This fashion designer, oil tycoon and philanthropist has beaten media mogul Oprah Winfrey to become the richest black woman. Net worth: At least $3.3 billion ($500 million more than Oprah’s $2.7 billion net worth). A Nigerian might just become the next US president. They seem to be everywhere.



One of the biggest stories out of the continent, the Marikana massacre went down in the same country where the “African of the Year” former South African president Thabo Mbeki calls home. South Africa. For his “persistent and consistent” efforts to avert war between Sudan and South Sudan, Mbeki received this year’s Daily Trust Newspaper sponsored award. As one would imagine, many faces contorted wondering ‘How is one chosen to become African of the Year?’ But congs. Mr. Mbeki.

THULANI MADONDO: Meet the only African who made it to the top 10 of this year’s CNN Heroes. Thulani Madondo. South Africa just like the rest of Africa needs more people such as this man.

Image Through his after-school program, Madondo provides academic support to 400 kids living in South Africa’s Kliptown slums. In the midst of a worrying crime rate, the program which helps keep students engaged after school helping them with homework among others is saving the generation to come. Puspha Basnet a Nepalese woman taking care of kids belonging to women in jails is this year’s CNN Hero.

DAPO DANIEL OYEBANJO aka D’BANJ: Nigeria AGAIN. Alongside other stars such as the talented Tiwa Savage, P-Square duo, Wizkid and Chidinma, D’Banj has given the world more reason to love Africa this year.  When the ninth installment of the annual Channel O Music Video Awards took place in Kliptown, Soweto, there was little wonder that he dominated the night. His ‘Oliver Twist’ video is the reigning ‘Most Gifted Male Video of The Year’.


While coming up with a list to which everyone agrees is nearly surreal, all Africans that did something however little to make this continent a better place deserve to be thanked. From Kenya’s James Mwangi (Forbes Magazine’s Africa Person Of The Year), the Nigerian teenage girls that created a generator that runs on urine to dedicated journalists who have sold their lives to excellence, mothers, fathers, friends that care…if only the Mo Ibrahim Foundation directed its $5m cash prize to outstanding individuals instead of African leaders.  Don’t wait for them to die, celebrate those heroes.

*The Kenya March 4, 2013 general election saw a 19-year old win elective office.


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7 Responses to “TOP 10 #FascinatingAfricans2012”

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