Global Black History’s Most Fascinating of 2011

These Africans have made our list of the Top most fascinating people of 2011 because of their courage, conviction and controversy.

Julius Sello Malema, Former ANC Youth League Leader (born 3 March 1981, in Seshego) is a South African politician, and the former president of the African National Congress Youth League. Malema occupies a notably controversial position in South African public and political life; having risen to prominence with his support for African National Congress president, and later President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma.

Bishop Oyedepo, of Living Faith World Outreach Ministry, also known as Winners Chapel has an estimated net worth of $150 million. David Oyedepo is Nigeria’s and possibly Africa’s wealthiest preacher. He founded Living Faith World Outreach Ministry in 1981, and has built it into one of Africa’s largest congregations. Faith Tabernacle is possibly Africa’s largest worship center, with a seating capacity of 50,000. Oyedepo owns four private jets and homes in London and the United States. He also owns Dominion Publishing House, a thriving publishing company that publishes all his books. He founded and owns Covenant University, one of Nigeria’s leading tertiary institutions, and Faith Academy, an elite high school.  

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (born 31 July 1961) was appointed Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria on 3 June 2009. He is a career banker and ranking Fulani nobleman, and also serves as a respected Islamic scholar. The renowned global financial intelligence magazine, The Banker, published by the Financial Times, has conferred on Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi two awards. He has been recognised with the global award for Central Bank Governor of the Year, as well as for Central Bank Governor of the Year for Africa. The TIME magazine also listed Sanusi in its TIMES 100 list of most influential people of 2011

Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor at the Hague Fatou Bensouda is currently the deputy chief prosecutor at the ICC, a post she was elected to on 8 September 2004. She previously worked at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Tanzania, before becoming senior legal advisor and head of the legal advisory unit at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague. She also served as Solicitor-General of the Republic of The Gambia. She will be officially selected during the annual ICC Assembly of State Parties meeting in New York on 12 December, and will work alongside current Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, until his term ends in June 2012, to ensure a smooth transition.

Derreck Kayongo is Founder and Chairman of the Global Soap Project & 2011 CNN Hero, founded an organization that recycles hotel soap into soap that can be used in African refugee camps. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and Management from Messiah College. Our Hero Derreck Kayongo was born in Uganda but fled during the reign of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin and moved to the United States where he is now a naturalized citizen. Mr. Kayongo birthed his mission from his experience while living as a refugee in Kenya. Today, his organization Global Soap Project recycles used soap from hotel rooms around the US and ships them to various organizations in Kenya, South Sudan, Haiti and Swaziland. Congratulations to Derreck Kayongo and the Global Soap Project. Let us support him by voting for to become the 2011 CNN Hero.

Leymah Gbowee, Activist & 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, was born in central Liberia. At the age of 17, she moved to Monrovia, when the First Liberian Civil War erupted. She trained as a trauma counselor during the civil war in Liberia and worked with the ex-child soldiers of Charles Taylor’s army. Surrounded by the images of war, she realized that “if any changes were to be made in society it had to be by the mothers”. She is a mother of six.
In 2002, Leymah Gbowee was a social worker who organized the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace. The peace movement started with local women praying and singing in a fish market. She organized the Christian and Muslim women of Monrovia, Liberia to pray for peace and to hold nonviolence protests.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Nobel Laureate

is the 24th President of Liberia and the first elected female Head of State in Africa. Throughout her career she has demonstrated passionate commitment to hard work, integrity and good governance, advocating for the rights of women and the importance of education to provide a better future for her country and its people. Born Ellen Euphemia Johnson in Monrovia on October 29, 1938, she is the granddaughter of a traditional chief of renown in western Liberia and a market woman from the southeast. She grew up in Liberia and attended high school at the College of West Africa in Monrovia, subsequently studying at Madison Business College, the University of Colorado and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government where she obtained a Master’s Degree in Public Administration in 1971.

Herman Chinery Hesse, Software Developer

Mr Herman Chinery-Hesse has been dubbed the next Bill Gates of Africa. He was recently featured by Inc Magazine because of the technology idea he is proposing. In the midst of the global technological revolution, Africa has been mentioned few times because of the scarcity of Internet service which forms the backbone of modern technology. However with the introduction of high speed Internet service in the recent past, Africans are beginning to see the vast opportunity that exists in this domain. Herman Chinery-Hesse is a 43 year old entrepreneur who is seeking to maximize his opportunity in this technologically driven world. He was one of the founders of the largest Internet Cafe in Ghana and now serves as Executive Chairman and controlling shareholder for SOFTribe a company he founded.

Aliko Dangote, the Wealthiest Black Person Period

Alhaji Aliko Dangote is the founder of the Dangote Group, which he currently presides over as President and Chief Executive. Dangote is a graduate of Business Studies from the Al-Azahar University, Cairo, Egypt. He started business in 1977 trading in rice, sugar and cement, before he ventured into full-scale manufacturing. Currently, the Dangote Group has 13 subsidiaries spread all over Nigeria. The subsidiaries include cement, sugar, salt, flour, pasta, noodles, poly products, logistics, real estate, telecommunications, steel, oil and gas and beverages. The Group operates in 14 African countries including Senegal, Zambia, Tanzania, South Africa, Congo (Brazzaville), Ethiopia, Cameroun, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia and Ghana, among others. The Group, whose core business focus is to provide local, value-added products and services that meet the ‘basic needs’ of the Nigerian population, recorded a turnover in excess of $3 billion (N450 billion) in 2010 .

Leila Lopes, Miss Universe 2011

Leila Luliana da Costa Vieira Lopes was born on February 26, 1986 in Benguela, Angola. Lopes studied business management at University Campus Suffolk in Ipswich, England. When crowned Miss Angola UK on October 8, 2010, Lopes would become representative of the Angolan community in the United Kingdom to the Miss Angola 2011 event, taking place two months later in Luanda. Leila Luliana da Costa Vieira Lopes (born February 26, 1986) is an Angolan beauty pageant titleholder who was crowned Miss Angola UK, Miss Angola 2010 and later Miss Universe 2011.

President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, GCFR, BNER, GCON (born 20 November 1957) is the 14th Head of State and current President of Nigeria.
He was Governor of Bayelsa State from 9 December 2005 to 28 May 2007, and was sworn in as Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on 29 May 2007. Jonathan is a member of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). On 13 January 2010, a federal court handed him the power to carry out state affairs while President Umaru Yar’Adua received medical treatment in a Saudi Arabian hospital. A motion from the Nigerian Senate on 9 February 2010 confirmed these powers to act as President, in recognition of her opinion. On 24 February 2010, Yar’Adua returned to Nigeria, but Jonathan continued as acting president. Upon Yar’Adua’s death on 5 May 2010, Jonathan succeeded to the Presidency, taking the oath of office on 6 May 2010. He is presiding over one of Africa’s fastest growing economies and was the first African President to launch his campaign on Facebook.

Joseph Lekuton, Member of Parliament for Kenya

Born into a Maasai tribe in Northern Kenya, Joseph Lekuton was chosen to attend a missionary boarding school as a child, sometimes walking 50 miles during vacations to find and rejoin his nomadic family. He won a scholarship to St. Lawrence University, then attended Harvard, and worked as a writer and history teacher in Virginia. He was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer for his work in sharing the culture of Kenya with America, including efforts to share educational resources with nomadic children through the BOMA Fund and Cows for Kids. In 2006, after a plane crash killed five members of the Kenyan parliament, Lekuton decided to return to Kenya and stand for election to fill the seat in his region. He won a parliamentary seat in the 2006 by-election, and was a member of the winning party in the December 2007 elections, the results of which continue to be contested throughout Kenya.

Divine Ndhlukula, SECURICO CEO & Winner of the Africa Award for Entrepreneurship, Divine is an award winning business leader and founder of SECURICO Security Services. In a career spanning 20 years she has worked as an Accountant and Marketing executive. Her astute leadership has turned SECURICO into one of the leading security organisations in Zimbabwe. This success in a male dominated industry saw her winning several leadership awards including the “Empretec Entrepreneur of the Decade (2003)”, Zimbabwe Institute of Management “Manager of the Year (2005)”, and Zimbabwe Institute of Directors’ “Director of the Year (2008) She champions for women’s economic and social empowerment and is a member of several voluntary organisations that seek to empower women.

Dr. Tererai Trent Oprah’s Favorite guest, Education Activist . Her story is not only inspiring but it will give new a definition of what education means for poor young girls in Africa. Dr. Trent was born in the remote village of Zvipani, Zimbabwe. During the time she was born most parents believed that education was only for boys but Dr. Trent would learn to read by secretly using her brother’s books. At the age of 11 she was married off and by eighteen was a mother to three children.

An encounter with a woman from Heifer International who was visiting her village changed her life. She told her about her desire to go to America to study for a BS, Masters and PhD. She was told that this was achievable and heeded to her mother’s advice to write her dreams down and bury them. Tererai began to work for Heifer and several Christian organizations as a community organizer. She used the income to take correspondence courses, while saving every penny she could. In 1998 she was accepted to Oklahoma State University where she graduated with a BS in Agricultural Education. Tererai pursued a Ph.D at Western Michigan University. She is now married, to Mark Trent. Oprah pledged to help Dr. Trent to educated more girls in Zimbabwe by building a school. We wish Dr. Trent the best because education truly makes a difference.

Zambian Leaders Michael Sata & Guy Scott, President & Vice President of Zambia Zambia has successfully elected Michael Sata and Guy Scott as the President and Vice President respectively. After a few days of political wrangling Rupiah Banda conceded defeat in stating that he had failed to understand the needs of the people. Mr. Sata has run for the Presidency four times before scoring victory. The election of President Sata marks a first for politics in post independence Zambia with the election of Guy Scott a white politician for Vice President. President Sata was once a member of the United National Independence Party (UNIP) under the leadership of Kaunda, then switched to Mr Chiluba’s Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD). He broke away from the MMD when they failed to recognize his presidential ambitions. From there he formed the Patriotic Front (PF), the party that has ushered him into the State House. As Minister he was often praised for being a competent leader which will hopefully translate into his Presidency.

President Sata has previously made what some people regard as controversial remarks about Chinese and Indian investors which soured his relationship with the Chinese government. In addition he is sighted as having praised Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe for seizing white owned commercial farms. The election of Mr. Sata has left foreign investors uneasy particularly because of their copper reserves. Political analysts point out that young people have helped Mr. Sata win this election in search for change and a better economy where they too can be employed and were more people live above the poverty line.

Patrick Awuah- CEO & Founder of Ashesi University

As we continue our quest to profile the Young African Entrepreneurs (YAEs) we have shifted our focus to an entrepreneur who is making a difference in education. Patrick Awuah founded a liberal arts college in Ghana in 2002. Ashesi University offers innovative education with propels critical thinking and ethics with a focus on leadership. Patrick, the founder and president of Ashesi University, left Ghana in the mid-1980s, when the country was under military rule and moved to the United States. He graduated from Swarthmore College with an engineering degree in 1990 and joined Microsoft, moved to Seattle and became a millionaire before he was 30.

Ashesi is a private, hi-tech university in a leafy residential suburb of Ghana’s capital city, Accra. Its campus and facilities present a stark contrast to Ghana’s five public universities. At these government colleges, enrollment has soared to 65,000 since 1990, and overcrowded lecture halls, substandard student residences, rising tuition fees and poor staff salaries have led to angry protests and frequent strikes. However, tuition at public universities is also much cheaper than the $4,500 in fees that Ashesi charges.

Temitope Joshua is the head of Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) and has an estimated net worth of $10 million – $15 million. He is popularly known as T.B Joshua. The church he founded in 1987 now serves over 15,000 worshippers on Sundays. The church currently has branches in Ghana, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Greece.
In the past three years, he has given over $20 million to causes in education, healthcare and rehabilitation programs for former Niger Delta militants. He owns Emmanuel TV, a Christian television network, and is close friends with Ghanaian President Atta Mills.
Jacqui Shipanga Namibia’s Women’s Football coach, is trying to make a difference by establishing a football league for women. Through her program she has established the first women’s league in Namibia. She uses examples such as Japan’s recent victory in the World Cup as a sign of the future if someone invests in women’s football. Jacqui Shipanga faced a lot of opposition in trying to establish herself as a football player. Her parents were not so willing to support her and wanted her to pursue a formal education only. However, Jacqui refused to quit and wherever she went she set up a women’s football team. She was appointed as a national coaching FIFA instructor and World Cup Technical Study Group that uses statistics for information which can be used by coaches worldwide. Only after finding success did her family and country finally accept her and believe in her passion.
John Githongo Human Right Campaigner in Kenya
Once forced out of his country for blowing the whistle on a massive government graft scandal, John Githongo has become a global symbol of the struggle against government corruption since returning to Kenya in 2008 and beginning a crusade for transparency in one of the world’s more venal countries. Githongo had been the government’s anti-corruption czar but fled in 2005 after accusing top ministers of fraud. Now he has adopted a more grassroots approach, launching a campaign called
Ni Sisi! (“It is us!”) to empower local businesses and act as a watchdog on opaque government contracts. If successful, it’s a model that could be exported to other countries where corruption is rampant.
Githongo believes Africa may be ripe for the kind of uprisings recently seen in the Arab world

Fred Swaniker Founder & Chief Executive Officer of the African Leadership Academy
Fred Swaniker is an entrepreneur with deep experience in education and leadership on the African continent. He is currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and is the Founder & CEO of African Leadership Academy, a world-class, pan-African secondary school that aims to develop future generations of African leaders. The idea for African Leadership Academy came about while Fred was living in Nigeria in 2003 and realized the urgent need for more effective and ethical leaders for Africa. He has extensive experience launching and managing private educational institutions of excellence in Africa. Fred helped launch and was a director of Mount Pleasant English Medium School, one of the top-performing private elementary schools in Botswana. More recently, Fred founded and led the launch of Global Leadership Adventures, a leadership development program for youth with sites in 10 countries. Fred also gained entrepreneurial experience when he was founding Chief Operating Officer of Synexa Life Sciences, a biotechnology company in Cape Town that today employs 30 South African scientists.

Fred brings a uniquely pan-African perspective to African Leadership Academy. He grew up across the African continent, living in Ghana, the Gambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe, and he has lived as an adult in South Africa and Nigeria. During his time as a consultant for McKinsey and Company, Fred provided strategic advice to the management teams of large companies in Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, and South Africa. Fred was recognized as one of fifteen “top emerging social entrepreneurs in the world” in 2006 by Echoing Green. He was chosen as one of 25 TED Fellows in 2009 and is a Fellow of the Aspen Institute’s Global Leadership Network.
Fred holds an MBA degree from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, where he was named an Arjay Miller Scholar, a distinction awarded to the top ten percent of each graduating class. Fred also holds a B.A. degree magna cum laude in economics from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.

Francis Deng, Special Advisor to the UN Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide to the United Nations Secretary General. Mr. Deng is currently Director of the Sudan Peace Support Project based at the United States Institute of Peace. He is also a Wilhelm Fellow at the Center for International Studies of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a research professor of international politics, law and society at Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.
Before joining the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr. Deng was a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the John Kluge Center of the Library of Congress. Mr. Deng served as Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons from 1992 to 2004, and from 2002 to 2003 was also a senior fellow at the United States Institute of Peace.
Mr. Deng served as Human Rights Officer in the United Nations Secretariat from 1967 to 1972 and as the Ambassador of the Sudan to Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the United States. He also served as the Sudan’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. After leaving his country’s service, he was appointed the first Rockefeller Brothers Fund Distinguished Fellow. He was at the Woodrow Wilson International Center first as a guest scholar and then as a senior research associate, after which he joined the Brookings Institution as a senior fellow, where he founded and directed the Africa Project for 12 years. He was then appointed distinguished professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York before joining Johns Hopkins University. Mr. Deng holds a Bachelor of Laws from Khartoum University and a Master of Laws and a Doctor of the Science of Law from Yale University, and has authored and edited over 30 books in the fields of law, conflict resolution, internal displacement, human rights, anthropology, folklore, history and politics and has also written two novels on the theme of the crisis of national identity in the Sudan. He was born in 1938.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s Finance Minister & Former Chief of the World Bank, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has spent her career shuttling between the rarified world of international economic institutions and the rough-and-tumble politics of her native Nigeria. Most recently, she served for four years as managing director of the World Bank, where she pushed initiatives like “diaspora bonds” that would allow immigrants in the West to invest in their home countries.
In July, the Harvard- and MIT-educated Okonjo-Iweala returned to Nigeria as President Goodluck Jonathan’s finance minister, a job she had held once before. Last time under Okonjo-Wahala, or “Trouble Woman,” as she’s nicknamed, the country cut inflation in half and averaged 6 percent growth per year. This time her focus is on reducing Nigeria’s debt burden and creating jobs, despite the slump in the global economy and considerable challenges at home, including entrenched corruption and a string of terrorist attacks.

Sunday Adelaja Founder & Pastor at Embassy of God Church was born in the village Idomila in southwest Nigeria who are considered Yoruba. He was born on 28, 1967 and was primarily raised by his grandmother. Mr. Adelaja, 43, arrived in the Soviet Union in 1986 as a college student, then stayed after the Soviet collapse in 1991, later moving to Kiev. He married his wife, Bose, who is also Nigerian and together they have three children. They speak fluent Russian, which is the native language for many there and is understood by most speakers of Ukrainian, the country’s other main language.
Pastor Sunday Adelaja is the founder and senior pastor of the church “The Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for All Nations”, which is located in the capital of Ukraine – Kiev city. Pastor Sunday Adelaja is one of the most dynamic preachers and founders of churches around the world, and is considered to be the most successful pastor in Europe. Beginning with former alcoholics and drug addicts, and to politicians and millionaires his church has a high percentage of Europeans (98%) and many also point out that the church has no racial discrimination in a country that still has racial tensions. The Embassy of God Church has opened 700 branches in 35 countries. There are 217 active rehabilitation centers that have helped 5000 people to obtain freedom from alcoholism and drug addiction. They have 600 social organizations and charitable funds, 105 educational institutions and social work is being carried out in 26 educational institutions. He launched his religious career shortly after arriving in Ukraine in 1993 and his church now boasts 2.5 million members, including 100,000 weekly churchgoers. Sunday Adelaja has been recognized by many including the United Nations and the U.S. Senate and the Clinton Global Initiative.

David Adjaye won the RIBA First Prize Bronze Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1993. In 2006 he was nominated for the Stirling Prize for his spectacular Whitechapel Idea Store in London. Adjaye later won a competition to design the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and was named 2011 Designer of the Year by Design Miami. Recent works include the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver and the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo

In 2011 We Remember:
Wangari Muta Mary Jo Maathai (1 April 1940 – 25 September 2011) was a Kenyan environmental and political activist. She was educated in the United States at Mount St. Scholastica and the University of Pittsburgh, as well as the University of Nairobi in Kenya. In the 1970s, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women’s rights. In 1986, she was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, and in 2004, she became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.” Maathai was an elected member of Parliament and served as assistant minister for Environment and Natural Resources in the government of President Mwai Kibaki between January 2003 and November 2005. In 2011, Maathai died of complications from ovarian cancer.

Lombuso Taongai Former Premier League of Swaziland (PLS) Chief Operations Officer passed away after a short illness.Tongai became the first woman to head the PLS office in Swaziland about eight years ago.Growing up in Harare Zimbabwe a small country in the southern Africa, Lombuso came from a typical middle class family.She received a good Catholic education at Monte Casino Girls High School and Nagle House Presentation Convent. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Africa University and her career took off. Lombuso broke barriers as a female in the male dominated world of soccer. Tongai was appointed elite football Chief Operations Officer in 2007 during the chairmanship of Veli Dlamini. She was in office when the current structure of the Board of Governors was established in 2008, under the leadership of former XI Men boss Moses ‘Mkhulu’ Motsa. In 2008 the office hired its first CEO in Vulindlela Kunene and Tongai served under him until she left and joined a private company called NDZ Consultants.


  1. Enjoyed the list.It took me back to 2011. I could not remember all those people but you recorded history for us.Well done generations fromnow they will know about 2011.

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