1. Emma Dabiri, @emmadabiri
What: Scholar, commentator, TV broadcaster and author
Why? Dabiri is an Irish-Nigerian social commentator who bridges the divide between the highbrow world of academia and everyday life. Her insightful and informed contributions on social media during the BLM movement facilitated a larger awareness of the issues of systemic racism that plague our society on a platform that most of us use everyday. Her book, Don’t Touch my Hair, examines the politics of African hair in a pre- and post-colonial context and is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand why identity and hair are so intimately intertwined.
2. Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng, @drtlaleng
What: Medical doctor, activist, author and special rapporteur to the UN.
Why: Tlaleng regularly publishes blogs and radio segments on female reproductive health and is especially interested in the medical challenges and stigmas faced by women in Africa. She speaks and writes often on the effect of HIV/AIDS on women, and is part of the fight to ensure equal access to quality healthcare throughout the continent for underprivileged and disadvantaged communities.
3. Ofentse Pitse, @ofentse_pitse
What: Owner and conductor of Anchored Sound
Why: Granddaughter of renowned SA jazz conductor Otto Pitse, Ofentse Pitse smashed through barriers as she became the first ever and youngest black female to own and conduct her own orchestra. Anchored Sound, a nonprofit 45-piece local orchestra and 30 member choir group, was co-founded by Pitse and its members are a selection of some of the best young musical talent from Katlehong, Tembisa and surrounds.
Pitse has been thrust into the limelight and is often a guest on local radio shows and podcasts. “I’m a believer in the black narrative and a believer in the black child” says Pitse, who excels at the English Horn despite receiving no formal classical musical training.
4. Solomon Omogboye, @solomon_omogboye_studio
What: Visual artist
Why: Nigerian-born but living in SA and practicing out of Joburg, Solomon Omogboye is a visual artist that you need to keep an eye on this year. Using charcoal, a palette knife and expressive colour, Omogboye creates large-scale portraits and landscapes that are an extension of his personal perspective of the world.