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The 7 African Game Changers Who Made TIME’s ‘Most Influential’ List

April 18, 2015

By Nathaniel Simons, The Africa Channel

Every year, TIME highlights 100 major players shaping our world and affecting culture in the most groundbreaking ways. Seven Africans made this year’s cut and, yes, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of them.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Author (Nigerian)

For years, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been gaining international recognition for cross-cultural novels such as Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun. She’s speared thought-provoking TED Talks and even made a feature debut on Beyonce’s girl-power anthem, “Flawless.” In 2014, news broke that Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o had optioned Adichie’s Americanah with an interest to star with David Oyelowo.

Chris Ofili, Artist (Nigerian)

When you talk about contemporary abstract art, Trinidad-based Chris Ofili is a name that’s sure to come up. “Painting is a kind of pursuit, a hunt,” Ofili stated in a recent edition of The New Yorker. With regular exhibitions across the globe, it’d be safe to say he has audiences ‘pursuing’ his artwork.

Muhammadu Buhari, President (Nigerian)

Over the past year, a series of attacks and murders by Islamist militant group Boko Haram has shaken the country and added to political distrust. So naturally, the world awaited the results of the 2015 Nigerian election. Now that Muhammadu Buhari has been officially named Nigeria’s incoming president, expectations are higher than ever.

Obiageli Ezekwesili, Leader (Nigerian)

Chartered accountant and former Minister of Education Obiageli Ezekwesili didn’t pause when she heard that over 200 girls had been abducted in Northern Nigeria by Boko Haram. Ezekwesili used her platform to initiate and lead the global #BringBackOurGirls movement that took over social media and even pop culture.

Jerry Brown, Physician (Liberia)

Over the past year, the Ebola scare rose, then fell, and then rose again, taking the lives of over 10,000 individuals. During its peak in Monrovia, Liberia, Dr. Jerry Brown and others were at the forefront. Thanks to Brown, many individuals on the ground received proper training and education about Ebola.

Barack Obama, United States President (Kenyan American)

No ‘most influential’ list would be complete without mentioning the leader of the free world. And regardless of how you feel about Obamacare, you have to admit it did get people talking. Thanks to Barack Obama and Obamacare, 11.7 million people are estimated to have signed up in 2015’s open enrollment.

Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram Leader (Nigerian)

Sadly, the man leading the charge for Boko Haram also made the list of ‘most influential’ people, but since we’re not his biggest fans, we won’t waste any more space on him.

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