Most Fascinating Global Black History Figures of 2016

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Ghana’s President Elect Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was born and raised in Ga-Maami and the Nima area of Accra. Akufo-Addo received his primary education first at the Government Boys School, Adabraka, and later at the Rowe Road School (now Kimbu), both in Accra Central. He went to England to study for his O-Level and A-Level examinations at Lancing College, Sussex. He returned to Ghana in 1962 to teach at Accra Academy Secondary School, before going to study Economics at the University of Ghana, Legon, and earning a BSc(Econ) degree in 1967. He subsequently studied law in the UK and was admitted to the English Bar (Middle Temple) in July 1971 and the Ghana bar in July 1975. In March 2014, Akufo-Addo announced his decision to seek his party’s nomination for the third time ahead of the 2016 election. He secured an unprecedented, landslide victory of 94.35% of the votes in the party’s presidential primary in October, 2014, in a contest of 7 competitors. Akufo-Addo also took time off to serve as Chair of the Commonwealth Observer Mission for the South African elections in 2014, building on his reputation as Ghana’s Former Foreign Minister.

Gambia’s President Elect Adama Barrow

One of the biggest upsets in political history occurred this December 2016 in the West African nation of Gambia which borders Senegal. Adama Barrow, a real estate businessman unseated long time dictator Yahya Jammeh. President Jammeh took over power in a coup 22 years ago and like many leaders before him had proclaimed that he would rule for a billion years. The billion years lasted 22 years. Adama Barrow was born in Gambia in Kunda village near the town of Basse. He was born February 15, 1965 the same year that Gambia obtained its independence from brutal British colonial rule. Barrow is part of the generation of Africans known as ‘Born free’ He attended Muslim High School through a scholarship and completed his higher education at a university in the United Kingdom where he studied real estate.

Godwin Gabriel- Founder of Ridesharing App MOOVN

Godwin came to the United States in 1995 to study Political Science at Seattle University with the goal of going to Law School. He initially wanted to study law but became more interested in business. His first business was Elite Cars, a business that offered transportation for hotel guests. Hotel guests could book transportation on his website. He sold the business to an investor in 2007. In 2014, he completed an MBA from the University of Washington and started teaching himself how to code. Although Godwin was born in Tanzania, he has lived in the United States for more than two decades. It is an application that enables you to book an exclusive driver on demand or in advance. The MOOVN application or web-based booking platform enables users to easily request a ride at the comfort of your desktop, tablet or mobile phone.

MOOVN currently operates in 7 U.S. cities: Washington, DC, Chicago, IL, Boston, MA, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, San Francisco, CA, New York, NY and 3 African cities: Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; and Gabriel’s home city, Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania. MOOVN is the brainchild of technology and transportation entrepreneur Godwin Gabriel.

Ihan Omar

Somali born Minneapolis organizer Ilhan Omar made history in 2016 when she won a Minnesota House seat and became the first Somali-American legislator. Her district covers parts of the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, southeast Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota. Omar won almost 80% of the vote. Omar was born in Somalia in 1982. At the age of eight, she fled the Somali Civil War as a refugee with her family and spent four years in a Kenyan refugee camp before attending middle school in Arlington, Virginia when she, her siblings, and her father, Nur Omar, arrived in the U.S. in 1995. She states that her father opted to move them to Minnesota for economic security and because of its reputedly excellent education system.She has lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota since 1997.

Nate Parker and Birth of a Nation

At the beginning of 2016, The Birth of a Nation movie which was released in October 2016 was a top contender for major awards, however, reports of rape allegations against Nate Parker slowed its momentum. After all was said and done the movie made $16 million at the box office.

2016 Olympics in Rio
University of Cape Town Scientists

The University of Cape Town (UCT)’s Drug Discovery and Development Centre, H3D, has identified a new potent anti- malarial development candidate with potential for both treatment and prevention of malaria. The compound, referred to as UCT943, is the second preclinical candidate to come out of the collaboration led by H3D involving the Switzerland based Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and an international network of partners.

Developed to strengthen the parasite enzyme phosphoinositide 4 kinase inhibitor program, UCT943 has the same molecular target as MMV048, a promising new compound researched by an international team led by H3D and selected for development in 2012. The data so far shows that UCT943 has promise to be more potent against the parasite, and to be easier to formulate, although these aspects will be the subject of the next studies, and ultimately will need to be validated in humans.

“Like MMV048, UCT943 has potent activity against all stages of the malaria parasite life cycle and has the potential to block transmission of the parasite from person to person and, as such, could contribute to the eradication of malaria, a disease that claims the lives of around half a million people every year,” said Professor Kelly Chibale, Founder and Director of H3D.

Benin’s New President Patrice Talon

Independent candidate Patrice Talon was elected President of Benin in early 2016. He secured 65% of the votes in a second round run-off election with incumbent; Lionel Zinsou received only 35% of the vote. His victory interestingly comes after he was narrowly defeated by his rival in the first round.

Patrice was born May 1, 1958 to a native railway man father from the Atlantic port town and ex-slave trading post of Ouidah and a mother from the Guedegbe family of Abomey. He grew up in Degue-Gare in Porto-Novo, where his family owned a house. Talon is a Fon, one of Benin’s main ethnic and linguistic groups and some believe this has helped his businesses and political career. After high school he studied at the University of Dakar before attempting to transfer to Paris’ National School of Civil Aviation (ENAC). He won an airline pilot contest sponsored by Air Afrique and despite passing the entrance exams; he failed a medical test and forced to abandon his dream of becoming a pilot.

Patrice Talon is married to Claudine, a native woman of Porto-Novo and he has two children.

Dayo Olakulehin- Founder of Battery Powered D-Box Ventilator

Nigerian doctor, Dayo Olakulehin, invented a cheap, portable, rechargeable and easy to use battery-powered ventilator. A ventilator is a machine designed to mechanically move breathable air into and out of the lungs, to provide the mechanism of breathing for a patient who is physically unable to breathe, or breathing insufficiently. The D-Box is an innovative ventilator designed to automate Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) bags and deliver controlled breaths to patients with respiratory problems. Conventional ventilators cost on average $30,000 while low-cost alternatives can be bought for about $3,000. Dr. Olakulehin’s invention is also revolutionary because it starts at about $300.

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