Nigerian music star, David Adedeji Adeleke, popularly known as Davido and founders of the EndSars advocate feminist group, Feminist Coalition and co-founder, Flutterwave, Olugbenga Agboola have made the 2021 edition TIME 100 Next emerging leaders.
According to time.com, Davido is one of the biggest voices in Afrobeats because his music connects with people, often in ways that transcend his expectations. When he released the song “FEM” in 2020, a title that loosely translates to “shut up” in Yoruba, he didn’t know it would become a major #EndSARS protest anthem, as youth banded together to demand the government take action to end police brutality in Nigeria last October. O
You can tell Davido puts 100% into every song he makes. And the results are clear: his album A Good Time surpassed a billion streams in 2020. Afrobeats is a worldwide phenomenon, and Davido is one of many Nigerian artists who have made that possible; now more and more artists, from Nicki Minaj to Young Thug, want to work with him.
Feyikemi ‘FK’ Abudu, Odunayo Eweniyi and Damilola Odufuwa
When protests calling for an end to police brutality and the disbandment of Nigeria’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) erupted across the country in fall 2020, Damilola Odufuwa and Odunayo Eweniyi, founders of the Feminist Coalition, sprang into action.
Drawing on their expertise in tech, they raised donations in Bitcoin to offer protesters medical assistance, legal aid and mental-health support. Simultaneously, Feyikemi “FK” Abudu acted quickly, raising funds from both Nigeria and the diaspora to organize food and security arrangements for protesters on the ground.
Abudu later joined forces with the Feminist Coalition, and the organization, comprising 13 founding members, raised more than $387,000 in two weeks. As their fight continues—in mid-October, the government pledged to implement police reform, but efforts to suppress dissent, including by arresting demonstrators, are ongoing—the coalition’s leaders hope their crucial role in the protests demonstrates the importance of having women in leadership. —Suyin Haynes
In 2020, COVID-19 lockdowns across the world hit brick-and-mortar businesses hard. Africa’s small shops and restaurants, very few of which have an online presence, were particularly vulnerable. Enter Flutterwave, a tech startup based in San Francisco and Lagos, Nigeria, that is known for helping companies’ process customers’ online transactions during checkout.
Amid lockdown, Flutterwave expanded from specializing in digital cash registers to hosting digital storefronts, helping some 20,000 small businesses suddenly without foot traffic set up online shops, receive payments and arrange delivery options. “We called it ‘Keeping the Lights On,’” says Olugbenga Agboola, Flutterwave’s co-founder and CEO, who lives in Washington, D.C. The company processed more than 80 million transactions, worth $7.5 billion, in 2020, establishing it as Africa’s premier payment-solution provider.
Now Flutterwave—which already has a presence in 17 African countries—is planning to leverage that momentum into greater expansion, so that a customer in South Africa, for example, can seamlessly use her Kenyan digital wallet to buy products in Senegal. “Africa is not a country,” says Agboola. “But we make it feel like one.” —Aryn Baker
How We Chose the 2021 TIME100 Next
The global magazine said the second annual TIME100 Next list—is an expansion of our flagship TIME100 franchise that highlights 100 emerging leaders who are shaping the future—what struck me most was how its members are coping with crisis.
Amid a global pandemic, deepening inequality, systemic injustice and existential questions about truth, democracy and the planet itself, the individuals on this year’s list provide “clear-eyed hope,” as actor, composer and director Lin-Manuel Miranda puts it in his tribute to poet and TIME100 Next honouree Amanda Gorman. They are doctors and scientists fighting COVID-19, advocates pushing for equality and justice, journalists standing up for truth, and artists sharing their visions of present and future.
As with Miranda and Gorman, many of the TIME100 Next profiles are written by TIME100 alumni—a testament to the ways that influence flows across generations. One example: Dr. Anthony Fauci, who recently turned 80, calls his fellow immunologist and National Institutes of Health colleague Kizzmekia Corbett, 35, “a rising star” whose work—which was key to the development of the Moderna vaccine for COVID-19—“will have a substantial impact on ending the worst respiratory-disease pandemic in more than 100 years.”
Equally powerful is the influence flowing between these emerging leaders themselves. Greta Thunberg, 18, TIME’s 2019 Person of the Year, writes about 24-year-old Uganda-based Vanessa Nakate, whose Rise Up movement focuses on the disproportionate impact of climate change on the African continent and the Global South.
“In this moment of intersecting crises—from COVID-19 to racial injustice, from ecological problems to economic inequality—Vanessa continues to teach a most critical lesson,” Thunberg writes. “She reminds us that while we may all be in the same storm, we are not all in the same boat.”
Although recognizing the leaders of tomorrow lends itself to a younger group, we intentionally have no age cap, an acknowledgment that ascents can begin at any age. The youngest person on this list, for example, is 16-year-old entertainer Charli D’Amelio, who counts more than 100 million followers on TikTok. Among the eldest is 51-year-old Raphael Warnock, a Democratic Senator from Georgia, whose recent election represents “the dawn of a new South,” writes Rev. Bernice A. King, the CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.
“Everyone on this list is poised to make history,” says Dan Macsai, editorial director of the TIME100. “And in fact, many already have.” Indeed, when we told Jessica Byrd, who has helped shape the movement for electoral justice, that she was going to be included on this year’s TIME100 Next, she shared that she was “very, very moved” to receive another recognition from TIME—the first being in 2015 when, at a challenging moment in her life, she was named to a list of rising Black leaders.
Two months after that, “catapulted by the public visibility and support for my work through that list,” Byrd says she “felt the wind at my back” and started her firm Three Point Strategies, which went on to work with such clients as Stacey Abrams and the Movement for Black Lives. “And the rest, as they say, is history.”