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Meet the 7 Africans among Time’s 100 most influential people of 2018

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As they do every year, Time Magazine has unveiled its “Top 100 Most Influential People” list today. Annually, the latest and greatest are bestowed with the grace of knowing they’ve touched the lives of others in ways big and small. Here are the most influential Africans of 2018, Face2Face style.

Tiffany Haddish…GQ/Art Streiber

Tiffany Haddish

“I first met Tiffany Haddish on the comedy scene 13 years ago. She was young, raw and funny, almost like she didn’t have a care in the world. But when I noticed her car was packed to the brim with her belongings, I asked her if everything was O.K.”





“That’s when I found out she was homeless and living in that car. I didn’t know the details of her life at the time, but I knew she had talent, I knew she had drive, and I wanted to help. So I reached into my pocket, and I pulled out $300—it was all I had with me. Then I handed it to her and said, “I think you’ll find a purpose for it.”

“Now Tiffany is bringing a whole new level of fresh to the comedy scene. She’s just so authentic and unfiltered. You never know what’s going to come out of her mouth. And you can tell she’s having fun—she’s seen a time when things couldn’t get any worse, and she’s giving it all she has. When we were on set for our upcoming movie, Night School, our shared history helped us play off of each other. That chemistry translated like fireworks onscreen.”

“Tiffany is an amazing talent with an even bigger heart. She loves to put her loved ones in a position of happiness. I hope she keeps being herself, because that’s what got her shining. And I want to see her go big and beyond.”

As told to Time by Kevin Hart





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Issa Rae…HipHopDX

Issa Rae

“On a Friday a few years ago, I was asked to blurb a new book, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. The title made me laugh, so I read it on Saturday, loved it and wanted to know more about the girl at the center, Issa Rae. I then spent Sunday watching all of her groundbreaking YouTube series of the same name. It was heartbreaking, well observed, effortlessly diverse and, most important, so funny. So I met, got to know and fell in love with Issa Rae all in one weekend.”

“And that’s probably what you did too. You heard about her or saw her being funny on a talk show, watched something she created and then were infected with this desire to devour everything she makes as quickly as she can put it out. I watched the entire first season of Insecure in two days. I loved her world, her friends, her clothes, her handsome love interests and her anxieties. Maybe especially her anxieties, because those are what make her so lovable.”





“Only Issa Rae could make the adjectives awkward and insecure chic. That’s an impossible thing to do. But here we have her, Issa Rae: writer, actor, force of nature—and chic as hell.”

By Mindy Kaling

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Virgil Abloh…BoF

Virgil Abloh

“A little over 10 years ago, Virgil Abloh, relatively fresh out of graduate school, visited my office in Tokyo while working with Kanye West. I had no way of recognizing the shy youth’s talents that were to blossom in the years to come.”





“Fast-forward to June 2017. Virgil visited my exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago the day before it opened and told me how he had been inspired by my multicolor monogram collaboration with Louis Vuitton. I proposed a collaboration between us, and we quickly realized our art exhibition at Gagosian London. Through our collaborative and creative process, I came to know the nobility of his character. Every­thing from the way he works to how he uses his time to how he makes his judgments is principled. The foundation of his value, or branding, is humanity itself, not a superficial trick.”

“Kids’ fervor for the stripe patterns and arrow marks he created for his fashion label, Off-White, is not a passing trend; rather, it shows how Virgil’s young followers, with their unclouded eyes, have been seeing right into the core of his creativity all along. With his appointment as artistic director for Louis Vuitton’s menswear, his full merit will be understood even more widely around the globe.”

By Takashi Murakami





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Trevor Noah

“When I think of Trevor Noah, the first image I see is from his brilliant memoir, Born a Crime, of Trevor’s mother throwing him out of a moving vehicle while he’s asleep in order to save his life. Through other eyes this could be remembered as traumatic and harrowing. Through Trevor’s it is bonding and hilarious, a testament to the love of someone who truly had to think on their feet.”

“That is how Trevor sees the world. A fantastic storyteller, he has always been a defier of rules, which he broke simply by being born in his native country. At The Daily Show, which he has truly globalized, Trevor seeks out comedians of color in every possible venue, no matter how small. He is determined to find the best talent representing the most diverse viewpoints.”





“Trevor, who grew up biracial in apartheid South Africa, has the unique ability to tell truths that bring us together. He is uncannily skilled at holding up a mirror to whatever room he is in. Trevor is always reaching out: across cultures, continents and boundaries. He makes us laugh with each other and brings us that much closer to under­standing one another.”

By Lupita Nyong’o

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Emmerson Mnangagwa…The Australian





Emmerson Mnangagwa

“The elation that greeted the end of Robert Mugabe’s 37-year reign naturally enough transformed into hopes for his successor. And in his first 100 days, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa spoke of re-engaging, forgiveness, democracy and unity. But though words matter, so does the survival of a system that destroyed the hopes and dreams of generations. For four decades, Zimbabwe’s new President was the protégé of the dictator he eventually deposed. Mnangagwa says very little of his own volition. He waits for you to speak and only responds when absolutely necessary. As Mugabe learned, he is extremely patient, choosing his moments of response or retaliation carefully. Mugabe described him as a man who does not forgive or forget very easily. Maybe that’s why for years, Mnangagwa has kept his liberation war nickname, the Crocodile. The undeniable paradox of Zimbabwe’s moment of healing is that the doctor was once the butcher.”

By Evan Mawarire

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Nice Nailantei Leng’ete…AMREF USA

Nice Nailantei Leng’ete

“As a Maasai child in Kenya, Nice Nailantei Leng’ete accomplished something remarkable: she escaped the cut, her culture’s ritualized female genital mutilation.”





“But saving herself was not enough. As an adult, she has gone on to negotiate with village elders, who traditionally have not worked with women, and convince them that alternative coming-of-age ceremonies will be healthier for girls and better for communities. Her work as a project officer with Amref Health Africa has saved an estimated 15,000 girls around Kenya from the cut, as well as from child marriage.”

“Nice is an extraordinary example of young African girls standing up for themselves. After the loss of her parents, she could have given up and followed the norm, knowing that challenging attitudes in male-dominated communities can get you cast out. But instead, she fought to get an education so she could help change the socio­cultural structures that continue to impede women’s lives and well-being.”

“That approach has earned her admiration and respect. Nice was the first woman in her community to be given a black talking stick by elders. And now she speaks on a global stage, using her voice to raise awareness about her work. FGM and child marriage will end in Africa because of the likes of Nice.”

By Jaha Dukureh





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Elon Musk…The Times

Elon Musk

“Suppose that in the year 3000, TIME publishes the 100 most influential people of the millennium. Who from our generation would make the list?”

“Elon Musk has a shot. Because he is one of the few people who is not only thinking about the long-term survival of our civilization but also doing something about it: building the conditions for a viable colony on Mars.”

“That has meant reimagining the private space industry. Through original thinking, technical precision and smart marketing, Elon is making space transport rise up to our biggest ambitions. Along the way he has reinjected the most powerful fuel of all into the mission: public enthusiasm. For the first time since the 1960s, space once again feels like the greatest adventure. That excitement, and that pioneering spirit, will transport us to the next millennium and beyond.”

By Yuri Milner

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