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Mowalola, Mofe Runsewe, Suyi Davies: These are the pioneers of the YNaija 2020 New Establishment List

As is the annual tradition, YNaija is privileged to highlight the work of 50 young Nigerians who have set aside the distractions of the world and are attempting to leave a legacy in diverse fields within Nigeria.

The annual New Establishment list is distinguished by three things: it highlights people from diverse backgrounds engaged in a plethora of interests, it predicts that their work will become even pivotal to the fields in which they operate, and it suggests that leaders in their fields would do well to look out for them. The New Establishment acknowledges our honorees this year and inspires others to stay innovative, remain courageous and consistent.

From multi-disciplinary artists securing prestigious placements, self-taught developers founding some of the web’s most celebrated platforms, entrepreneurs breaking barriers on social entrepreneurship and activists galvanising the globe into action, the New Establishment class 2020 has proven they have the mettle to take on the world.

Let us introduce you to them.

Temi Popoola (Compere/Journalist)

When a young man reached out to Temi in 2017, asking for her LinkedIn profile name so she could be the face of a multinational company he was consulting for, she did not know that her career was about to take another turn – that was just another trigger. Fast forward two years later, Temi pushed through the boundaries, working through radio presenting and legal services, and updating her profile. 

Then, she was listed as one of the Top 50 personalities on LinkedIn, having spent a while solving problems using the tools of media, technology and laws. Her work includes impacting, engaging young people, and she volunteers with a leadership and vocational training NGO for teenagers – Sozo Networks  – as a facilitator and public speaking trainer.

Temi currently works as a Journalist at TW Magazine. Prior to her current position, she worked at CNBC Africa. Her works continue to speak for her.

Ifemeje Chioma (OAP) 

Ifemeje is the Head of Programs at Vibes FM, located in Benin City. Recognised by big names in the music industry, she manages Odekhian Osborne popularly known as OCJ, through Skills X Thrills, a talent management company, which she co-founded. 

She also has Skills X Thrills Merch, which celebrates the street style. Also known as Miss Philz, she has continued to drive online conversations in any space she finds herself – especially through Vibes FM and we are not sleeping on this one. 

Oghenetega Iortim (Gricd)

Graduating with a Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng) Degree, majoring in Communication Engineering from Covenant University, Tega has remained in the tech space since 2012, starting out with Ericsson. He describes himself as a thinker, attempting solutions to problems every other week. Aside from being a thinker, Tega has always been business-minded, selling Goody Goody, flat chocolate candies that were popular in the 90s, to his classmates in primary school, to selling airtime and Indomie noodles in secondary school and progressing to building websites in university. 

He had previously worked with Ayodeji Arikawe and Uka Eje, both who are co-founders of Thrive Agric – where he funded and sourced funds but was running into post-harvest losses. To solve this, Tega began designing a cold-storage technology to curb these post-harvest losses and came up with Gricd, which became fully operational in 2018. 

Gricd aims to bridge the gaps in healthcare cold chain in Sub-Saharan Africa and has already begun building innovative, affordable cold chain solutions for storage and transportation. It’s only going to get better. 

Taiwo Michael Awoniyi (Football)

In 2010, Taiwo was voted the Most Valuable Player at a Coca-Cola football competition in London. His performance at the competition was spotted by Seyi Olofinjana who made him join Imperial Soccer Academy. So, Taiwo started his football career at Imperial Soccer Academy and joined English football club, Liverpool in 2015. The young footballer’s style of play has been compared to Rashidi Yekini’s style and has gone on to play internationally for Nigeria’s U17, U20, U23. 

In recognition of his performance at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup competition, Taiwo alongside his teammates was bestowed with the Member of the Order of the Niger award. There were also reports that the Kwara State House of Assembly were going to name a street after him. 

Taiwo has played for several clubs in Germany and is presently a centre-forward for 1. FSV Mainz 05 on loan, looking to go back to Liverpool in June 2020. He has been teased to join the Super Eagles and we are excited that he is growing!

Silas Adekunle (Tech)

The Nigerian UK-based Silas Adekunle’s profile has continued to rise over the past two years, thanks to a robot uprising of his own making. He has a first-class degree in Robotics from the University of West England. Born in Lagos, the engineer co-founded Reach Robotics and is a pioneer in gaming robots. He became even more popular for his work, outside of the tech ecosystem, when he was hosted by Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo at the State House. 

His robots have proven big enough to grab an exclusive sales deal with Apple stores and have seen Reach Robotics secure $10 million in funding. 

Silas has set up a new firm, Awarri. Awarri (meaning ‘seek and find’ in Yoruba) is an educational project for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Maths (STEAM). The project seeks to expose young people and educators across Africa to robotics and coding. Silas is proof that Nigeria is not too far behind in the global tech ecosystem. 

Elvis Chidera (Tech)

Nothing stops people who are determined to achieve great things – call it ambitious ambition; for good. When Elvis was 12 years old, a family member gave him a phone, a Nokia 2690. He would save for weeks to buy a 10MB internet bundle for ₦100. Using this phone he developed websites and built an app, learnt HTML, CSS, and Javascript. When he was 14 years old, he launched an app Xmx Me, which made text messages cheaper and easier to send.

These days, Chidera is working with dot Learn, an MIT-backed startup focused on easing access to online education by providing data-lite resources. Education is clearly a passion for the teenager who, at 16, built PrepApp, an exam preparation app for students which has been installed over 35,000 times.

He is not just another Android developer with an MIT spinout, but one who will grow into a wildflower. 

Charles Dairo (Tech) 

Charles says he is the kind of person who wants to help people succeed. In 2012, the techpreneur founded CKDigital after a 3-month internship at a web design company and is still the CEO. He has been designing websites for years, with a speciality in User Interface (UI) Design. Charles is also a speaker and mentor and regularly teaches at CKDigital Academy helping people begin their careers in Web Design & Digital Marketing. 

What CKDigital does? – Web Development Training, Web Design Training, Digital Marketing Training, UI/UX Design Training, SEO Training, and Inbound Marketing Training. 

Charles’CKDigital has been listed on the ‘Top 10 Digital Marketing Agencies For Small Businesses In Nigeria’, ‘Top 4 Website and Creative Agencies in Nigeria’ and, ‘31 Outstanding and Talented African Web Designers’. 

Funfere Koroye (Industrial Designer and Product Developer)

The first thing that will catch your attention with Funfere is his tattoos, which he says are “sort of like a bit of education.” Funfere’s proficiency in most design engineering software provides a smooth path for his good designs, innovation and his finesse when he re-invents objects. He is not part of the regular faces in the design space but, according to Tech Point, he’s one of the few practising industrial designers in the country; and does not fail to consider the uniqueness of the West African ardour. 

Funfere is a co-founder of a tech and design startup, the Nupe Project, an initiative focused on solving the many challenges affecting many third world countries specifically, while simultaneously fostering the ignored 1% of African talent in Hardware development.

One of Nupe Project’s first products, The Nugas Smart Meter is an innovative LPG cylinder regulator which uses smart metering features that combines GPS and IOT technology to eliminate upfront fuel costs and enables millions of homes to access clean portable energy in Africa and other 3rd world countries.

Kazeem Bolarinwa (Politics) 

Thanks to changing narratives, we now have young people in government positions. It has indeed been a struggle, especially as the older generation are still indecisive as to whether they want to hand over the reins to the younger generation. Interestingly, some of the young Nigerians appointed into office were busy with other endeavours before they were picked up.

Kazeem Bolarinwa A. is a business brand developer and consultant, thinker and a fantastic decision-maker, an experienced Project Management facilitator who has trained over 4,000 graduates and professionals. 

He founded iREIGN Classique Consult Nigeria for intentional impact – a company now registered as a Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) partner with the Federal and some States Government. In 2018, Bolarinwa convened a political movement called Deliver Oyo (DO), a movement geared towards preaching good governance, youth participation in politics and advocating for effective leadership. Bolarinwa was one of the advocates of Not Too Young To Run in Oyo State and Seyi Makinde could not look over this raw talent; he is his Special Assistant on Youth and Sports – an opportunity to transfer his ideas to a larger network. 

Joana Nnazua Kolo (Politics) 

The ship has not set sail yet, but it is not far away. I mean, we still celebrate a 26-year-old as the youngest commissioner in Nigeria. But the interesting thing is: it is a woman. So, we are a step away from the facade narrative. There is now an intentional effort to include not just young people in governance but women also. We are excited for Joana who became Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq’s Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development. Joana was one of four female commissioners nominees. She was just about to complete her NYSC when she was appointed. We know she only just began, especially as her activities have been intentional – towards change – since she was appointed. 

S.I. Ohumu (Advocacy) 

Imagine a Nigeria where conversations around climate change are prioritised over trends on ‘what he/she wore’. Well, we have not scratched the surface yet and, even our government agencies that should lead these conversations are relatively oblivious of what happens around them. Stephanie is not another Nigerian who resides in the shadows of a Supreme Being to save us from ‘evil’, she is asking the right questions and answering some. 

She has founded Ubini and Space Benin so she uses art, fun community events, and digital content to psych up Nigerian youth to do more for climate change and mental health. Fortunately, she writes (on art and environmental sustainability) and produces short films and documentaries. 

She is saying something important with her work and it is pertinent we listen. 

Doyin Idowu (One Word Africa)

Dyslexia is a very common developmental disorder. The complexity of this disorder still needs intense clarification. Dyslexia segregates in families and many families have still not grasped what it means for a child to be dyslexic. Dyslexia is not a reflection of a child’s intelligence — in fact, it’s defined as a gap between a student’s ability and achievement.

With young people like Doyin, there is a breath of enlightenment. She founded One Word Africa in 2016 – a Non-Profit, Non-Governmental Organisation, and a Dyslexia-Focused initiative formed as a catalyst to address crucial issues affecting learning development in Africa at large and Nigeria in particular, and the progress has been phenomenal. 

Doyin now daily focuses on enlightening people, especially upturning the stigma around dyslexic people. 

Ayodeji Arikawe (Thrive Agric)

Not too many people dive into agritech, hoping to send positive thrills through the spine of the agricultural ecosystem in Nigeria; already thinking of spreading their tentacles to all of Africa. Ayodeji is the co-founder and CTO of Thrive Agric, starting out as a partner at Royal Impact – a social enterprise that builds systems around the food, agricultural and technological sectors. 

He is an advisor at Quick Leap, a company that builds digital products to drive change in different sectors of the Nigerian Economy cutting from education to healthcare and agriculture. Quick Leap also provides logistics support for smallholder farmers in Northern Nigeria and gives them access to market helping them skip about 6 middlemen.

Thrive Agric, who fondly call themselves ‘Farmily’, are a technology-driven agricultural company passionate about ensuring global food security. They get funds to support farmers from people like you, with the promise of decent returns at the end of each farming cycle. We can have as much agritech companies as fintech – we need it. 

Haruna Hassan Tukur (Agric Entrepreneur) 

We have always prayed to have more innovative minds in the Agriculture space. Well, our ‘prayers’ have been answered and, we now have agritech as a thing in Nigeria. Haruna is not just an Agric entrepreneur, he is the MD/CEO of Hafaz Integrated Farms LTD.

The young entrepreneur is the secretary of Kebbi State Investment Forum Committee on agriculture. He has been awarded the Global Youth Champion Award for the positive role he has played in empowering mechanised farming among Nigerian youth by the Global Connection for Women Foundation (GC4W) in the US. He has also been nominated for a West Coast Economic Summit Award for Trailblazers in Sustainable Agriculture, also in the US. 

Emmanuel Maduka (Agriculture) 

Emmanuel has over four years of experience in agricultural communication, and is an active advocate for youth engagement in agriculture, playing leading roles on this through his activities in agri-media and food processing. He is the founder of Agrostrides Magazine and co-founder LifePro Food Mills.

LifePro is an emerging social enterprise, tackling malnutrition in Africa. They are the manufacturers of Hiru – an organic locust beans brand that has been redeveloped to overcome locust beans’​ inherent limitations of bad smell, short shelf life and unhygienic production. The company uses technology to scale-up the production of local food products, to ensure more nutritious meals are accessible and affordable to all Africans. They also empower women in rural communities all over Africa to supply high quality, semi-processed version of our products.

Who says agriculture is for a selected few? 

Mayowa Balogun (Entrepreneur) 

Mayowa’s goal is to lead the revolution and exportation of African Music, Arts and Culture. So, you won’t be surprised that he launched BEAM Entertainment when he was 21 and has kept it going till date. Mayowa’s entrepreneurial aura has placed Lady Donli and LasGiiDi under his management – a company that operates in the US, Canada too. He has affairs in real estate property investment and management and started as a writer/blogger. 

BEAM Entertainment is a one-stop-shop for creatives and the entertainment industry. The company’s primary services are Music Marketing & Publishing, Artist Representation, A&R, Public Relations, Talent Branding, Event Planning, Copyright Enforcement and Intellectual Property Management.

Prince Chukwuma Ugwejeh (Entrepreneur) 

Prince co-founded the digital marketing and PR company, Nestriad, and has worked with big names across different industries, including Drew Classic, Ceeza Milli on his Campus Tour in 2019. He started out working with Eknowhow NG and Director, Moses Inwang, on movie projects which include Crazy People and Cold Feet. His big break came when he got to work with Bizzle Osikoya of The Plug to push singles from Chidokeyz which features Wizkid. He is the mastermind behind successfully completed campaigns, including Phyno’s recently released studio album Deal With It.

Nestriad was nominated for Entrepreneur Africa Awards in 2017 and kept up the pace since then. The company has Nestriad Autos – who sell pre-owned cars. 

Mofe Runsewe (Naija Nomads) 

Mofe started a travel blog in 2015 to share her unique travel experiences with friends and family. Her first blog post, JAMBO: NAIROBI KENYA caught the sincere attention of Nigerians who were willing to share their experiences too. 

She is not just your regular travel blogger who shares a diary with the world. Mofe is focused on filling vacuity in tourism, where Nigerians will be able to understand the tunes. 

In her travel list includes 20 group trips and Naija Nomads has risen to become an apogee in content creation/curation in Nigeria. 

Peace Itimi (Digital Marketing) 

Peace has over four years experience in Digital Marketing, planning and executing campaigns for brands like Total Perspective UK, iFitness Gym, Kubitx, Glo NG, EiE Nigeria etc. Call her the intelligent young lady thriving – always – to stay on top. Going home with Most Eloquent Student (Female), Medical Biochemistry Class of 2015, DELSU is nothing short of trying to have a voice. Added to the fact that she came out the Most Exceptional Student, Medical Biochemistry Class of 2015, DELSU. She has received several honours including YALI Star, Business and Entrepreneurship Class, Cohort 8, Award of Excellence – Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, Eti-Osa, Lagos, among others. 

In Oct/Nov 2017, Peace was awarded the Star of Business and Entrepreneurship Track at Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), Accra; Cohort 8 after being trained for 5 weeks on Leadership, Ethics, and Business. She was also nominated for The Future Awards Prize For Media 2019. 

Peace trains for Wild Fusion Digital Centre, Orange Academy, Stutern, Haptics Academy, Google Digital Skills and Facebook for Creators, and has trained over 5000 people.

You think this one will stop? We don’t think so too. 

Suyi Davies Okungbowa (Writer)

When WIRED’s Peter Rubin referred to him as “one of the most promising new voices coterie of African SFF writers,” he was talking of someone who is going to be in conversations among literary scholars not too far from the nearest future. He is a Nigerian science fiction, fantasy and horror writer. His muse comes from the histories and cultures of West Africa and Nigeria. He focuses on themes of identity, challenging difference and finding home. He is the author of the godpunk urban fantasy novel, David Mogo, Godhunter. He has authored short stories, including The Secret Life Of The Unclaimed, A World of Horror (anthology), Of Tarts and New Beginnings, among others. He has also authored non-fictional stories and one catches attention: The F-Word Is Here to Stay. Deal With It. Recently, Orbit announced that it has acquired an “incredible new epic fantasy series from Suyi Davies Okungbowa”, THE NAMELESS REPUBLIC trilogy. 

Meanwhile, David Mogo, Godhunter is of mixed parentage: part human and part orisha, a deity revered in Okungbowa’s native Nigeria. But Suyi repeatedly reminds readers that David is not “half of anything.” Rather, he’s a mix of human foibles and supernatural talents stumbling through a post-apocalyptic West Africa. 

We await other stories from Suyi, as he is one with potential who could tell the African story appropriately. 

Temi Oh (Writer) 

Without doubt, we could have young writers fill up this list. There have been conversations centring around the new generation of writers and if they could live up to the likes of Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiong’o and so on, but we can see that young writers are even driving conversations and telling stories ‘better’ than their older counterparts. If we were to list writers, there was one other reason Temi will be in it – she studied Neuroscience. 

Her degree provided great opportunities to write and learn about topics ranging from ‘Philosophy of the Mind’ to ‘Space Physiology’. In 2016, she received an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh. Her debut novel, DO YOU DREAM OF TERRA-TWO? was published by Simon & Schuster on March 7, 2019.

What’s DO YOU DREAM OF TERRA-TWO? About? A century ago, an astronomer discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting a nearby star. She predicted that one day, humans would travel there to build a utopia. Today, ten astronauts are leaving everything behind to find it. Four are veterans of the 20th century’s space-race. And six are teenagers who’ve trained for this mission most of their lives. It will take the team 23 years to reach Terra-Two. Twenty-three years locked in close quarters. Twenty-three years with no one to rely on but each other. Twenty-three years with no rescue possible, should something go wrong.

Kechi Nomu (Writer) 

Kechi Nomu is a Brunel International African Poetry Prize finalist. Her poetry has been accepted for publication in The Railto, Inter|rupture, Bangalore Review, Enkare Review, Expound magazine, Brittle Paper, etc. Between 2017 and 2018, she co-curated the Poets Talk Series for African poets. Her poetry chapbook, Acts of Crucifixion, was chosen by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani for publication as part of the African Poetry Book Fund Box Set (Tano). Her nonfiction has been published by openDemocracy, The Theatre Times, Voices of Africa, HOLAAfrica! and Invisible Borders. In 2019, her work was exhibited as part of Re-imaging Futures: A Trans-Nigerian Conversation with Invisible Borders as winners of the 2018 Apex Art curatorial grant. Also in 2019, her short story, A Dispensable Woman, has been named a semi-finalist for the Boston Review Aura Estrada Short Story Prize. We are excited about this one!

Diekara Oloruntoba-Oju (Writer)

Diekara’s research interests lie in youth cultures and subcultures of resistance in Africa. She studied German and French and her article, published in Taylor and Francis Online, titled State power, postmodernist identities and conflict in contemporary Nigerian popular music – published 2019 – is one that will set your mind in different directions. 

In another article, Singing Resistance and Compliance: Contesting Identity and Power in Western African Popular Music, Diekara discussed how West African popular music engages youth identity within the contestant relations of globalisation and State power. 

Her debut novel, When Lemons grow on orange Trees, published 2016 is a fictional story of loss, death and grief, it’s also a story about family, friendship and the will to survive. We await more from Diekara and we know she will deliver. 

Bolanle Banwo (Brand Identity Designer) 

You cannot help but wonder why we have to have a feminist movement so men agree to recognise women as ‘equal’ with them, especially when you look around you and see women overachieving. 

In order to spread her ideas, the design advocate launched The Female Designer Movement in 2018 to raise the next generation of female designers and has trained over 1,500 women for free on graphic design in Nigeria and Liberia – targeting 50,000 women across Africa. Aside from that, she leads Geneza Brands. A design company focused on giving life to your ideas. 

Coker Oluwafemi (Creative Designer) 

Nigeria. A country full of creative minds. Young people who have pushed back the rather negative vibes they receive from their leaders. Creatives like Coker cannot be left out of the equation if we were to have a discussion centred on what/who are changing narratives – end of the last decade and the beginning of the decade. You don’t know why yet?

While garnering extensive experience in creating and marketing brands, Coker founded Cokards Creative Agency and has committed himself to help brands shape their communication, usually through an impeccable, research-intensive ideation process led by design and strategy.

We know he will continue shaping communication strategies of companies, we also know he has come to become one of the leaders in that space; at least, that’s what his work says. 

Moshood ‘Shades’ Ridwan (Animator) 

You cannot deny that a new generation of creatives is coming up, and we now have more animators and illustrators than we thought we would. Moshood is one to watch out for this new decade, especially since he is someone who started trying to do animations since when he was 15. Ridwan says he didn’t have a laptop when he started and he learnt everything he knows through YouTube tutorials, using Macromedia flash. He would go to a cyber cafe, pay N50 and watch YouTube tutorials. 

Moshood is the founder of Toon Up Animations and, his biggest work yet, Garbage Boy, now airs on DStv’s Cartoon Network. 

Garbage Boy is the story of a little boy, who is a self-proclaimed superhero trying to save the world alongside his trusty trash can. 

Mohammed Agbadi (Illustrator) 

There are many times when illustrations do the job better. But the interpretation of ideas is material. And, when you look at Mohammed’s designs you are eager to know what he is trying to say. He specializes in comic art, concept art, illustration and character design. Mohammed was exposed to the arts by his mother after she saw his interest in comics and cartoons. He developed as an artist by creating graphic novels and animated shows.

In 2012, he got an internship to work as a character designer for a new game company in Nigeria called Kuluya. The team was headed by Nigerian renowned artist Christopher “Jydekris” Okonkwo, and was able to pick up relevant training, experience and knowledge from there. Since then he has taken up freelance for various clients worldwide and produces work that will speak for him even when he is not there. 

Em Etetim (YouTube Creator) 

Erm…yeah, she is Em. Such a simple name for someone who is ready to break boundaries. Scratch that, already breaking boundaries. With her over 23,000 followers on YouTube which started about a year ago, Em creates for the lifestyle space and does travel vlogs that take you around Nigeria. What is she doing differently? 

You won’t have too many people studying Electrical Engineering and deciding, after, to explore.  She calls herself an introvert but her adventurous mind won’t stop her from trying to drive conversations on YouTube. Em released a video in February 2019 titled “I regret moving to Nigeria”, highlighting her pains and gains staying and working in Nigeria. That blew up for one reason: it was quite relatable. At least, if you stayed in Nigeria, you will comfortably empathise with her. We know Em is going to shape conversations through her videos and we are waiting, really. 

Eric Okafor (YouTube creator) 

You know that uncertainty that comes with trying to compete in a very competitive market? Eric Okafor (Knewkeed) is not afraid of the drones of competition that stand in his way – no wonder he already has 75,000 followers on Instagram and garnering numbers on other social networking sites like Twitter. What does he do? 

Eric is a smartphone and apps reviewer, already competing with the likes of GSM Arena who are the go-to site for phone reviews and specifications. The difference is, Eric’s videos come with life. You are seeing, in real-time, the phone he is talking about and all the specifications therein. 

He started his YouTube channel about years ago and boom! His numbers won’t stop growing and very soon, he would be in our heads every time we need to check or compare smartphones, and mobile apps. We imagine he will get to the same level as Linus Tech Tips on YouTube. 

Tomiwa Tegbe (Actor) 

Tomiwa says he watched movies a lot during his childhood, so he probably had an idea what he was getting into when he launched his movie career. Interestingly, he holds a BSC in Environmental Management and Toxicology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, but when he saw other great actors shape conversations and move people to deep emotional spaces, he decided he wanted to do same. 

After his first job in 2011, Valour by Niyi Akinmolayan, Tomiwa has since been a part of several productions, some of which include, MTV Shuga, My Siblings and I, Kasala, On the Real, To Have and to Hold, Ehis Bitters, Growing Old, Aging by the Minutes, Uptight Girl, Kamelita, How to Marry a Billionaire, Dazzling Mirage, e.t.c.

He is a passionate creative, a committed performer with a clear sight of where he is headed and we expect him to only get better at what he does. He says that in 2020 he is “getting his bread up and eating good.” And he is ready to “toil and cultivate”. Watch out for this one. 

Jide-Kene Achufusi (Actor) 

There are rising stars, there are stars ready to remain in our faces for as long as until they retire. Swanky JKA is one actor who has the potential to stay relevant in the Nigerian film industry – beyond, possibly – and his good looks don’t take the hard work away from him. Indeed, he is a talented actor and model who has featured in notable Nollywood movies taking lead roles in some. He is known for The Spirits (2017), Lionheart (2018), and Living in Bondage: Breaking Free (2019). We know that Swanky can’t stop – not just yet. 

Kayode Kasum (Film Director)

This passionate young man started out as a film director and motion graphics designer, worked with Wale Adenuga Productions and is now the Head of Production at Neuklous. Kayode has definitely come to stay and is someone that will be passed around with his work telling his story for him. 

His film projects include a two-part docu-series for the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS). He has also created and directed music videos, TV series and has shot campaigns for brands like Manchester United, DHL, Union Bank, Belvedere, FelaTheConcert, ART X Lagos, African Cable Television (ACTV), Clover Industries Tanzania and Techplus. 

If you knew Oga Bolaji, Sugar Rush, Faces and the Unbroken series on African Magic then you would have at least the slightest idea that Kayode will do more than he is doing now. 

Nora Awolowo (Film Director/Producer) 

Film in Nigeria is evolving – don’t even argue this. Stories are told more professionally now. People are dancing around better film productions even without ALL the required resources. We might also noticed that producers now use one camera to make movies. Nora, the film director and producer is one filmmaker on a progressive table. 

Retaining her resolute concernment towards affairs of women, she teamed up with media personality, Kiki Mordi, to produce Life at the Bay and we knew that there’s another awesome story-teller we should watch out for. 

She leads Rixel Studios and is also a photographer, producing pictures and images that appeal to anyone who appreciates art. 

Chimezie Imo (Actor)

When Chimezie posted a video talking about toxic masculinity, he caught our attention. And he has continued to interest us. We say this because he has been in the film industry since 2014 in a movie titled Learning Curve, featuring alongside Ivie Okujaye, Jim Iyke etc. Chimezie never stopped chasing after his dreams to become a voice using acting as a means to inspire people, he has grown to become a force to reckon with in the Nigerian movie industry and has since featured in MTV Shuga (Season 6), BattleGround, Origin, 90 Gogoro, Payday, Idemuza, No Longer Broken, Mustapha, Shelter, Nimbe etc. His role and aura in Ema Odioso’s Kasala attracted everyone’s attention. 

Umoh Umoren released a film Dear Bayo and Chimezie is the main character – Bayo. You cannot leave this one out of the picture when discussing Nollywood’s rising stars. 

Adebukola Oladipupo (Actor) 

Adebukola made a debut in film in 2015 with MTV Shuga and then was featured in Indigo (season 1), Inevitable and The Other Me the same year. It seems like we have more Nigerian actors who put their University certificate aside to pursue a career in film and television – Bukola is one of them. She studied Information System Management and has undergone several trainings in theatre art. 

She dreams of drawing a more visible line between Nollywood and Hollywood and we look forward to that. Before then, she also featured on the Ndani TV series, Phases, appearing alongside Tobi Bakre, directed by Kayode Kasum. 

Amarachi Ironkwe (Model) 

The Nigerian fashion and beauty industry is surely having a swell time and Amarachi is not stepping down. Amarachi is a Nigerian model who also loves writing and aromatherapy. The model was first spotted when she was one of the selected 20 finalists for Elite Model Look in 2016. Though she didn’t win, she got her big break thanks to Few Models and has worked with brands including Adidas and J.W Anderson.

Amarachi has appeared on the cover of Harper Bazaar, modelled in the Tommy Hilfiger X Zendaya S/S 19 show, was part of the Feng Chen Wang S/S 19 campaign, modelled for LFW S/S 19 Street Style, Schon magazine, Heineken Lagos Fashion Week in October 2019, among other big gigs. 

There’s no slowing down this one and you should expect even more. 

Emmanuel Umoh (Model)

A dashing body, an entrepreneurial spirit and an intelligent mind are the qualities needed to win

the Mr Ideal Nigeria 2019 and Emmanuel has all of that. He caught our attention after he won the contest, making history to become the first Nigerian to win the Mister Africa International title since its inception in 2011. The 6’3 ft model from Akwa Ibom State edged out over 40 contestants from other African countries He has since gone on to walk at the Seychelles Fashion Week, making him the first Nigerian male model to do this. He also walked on The Amsterdam  Fashion Week and The Mercedes Benz Fashion week and also became the first Nigerian to walk these huge platforms. He recently covered the FitFam Magazine and worked with an American designer, Clevlon Leonard. This Engineer is not slowing down and we are here for it!

Mowalola Ogunlesi (Fashion Designer) 

Mowalola’s non-conventional womenswear collection has created some level of excitement; on the global scene. Her unmistakable sense of identity is evident when you see how she moulds fragments of her Nigerian heritage with pieces of urban decadence. In the last three years, she has designed outfits for Nigeria’s World Cup team for Nike, worked on costumes for Skepta’s Pure Water video and featured in Vogue. 

She is clearly aware that her work goes up against rigid beliefs, as she consciously wants to change narratives of a highly hypocritical Nigeria. 

In January 2019, Mowalola marked her London Fashion Week debut with Fashion East, where she showcased womenswear for the first time. Aside from that, she usually plays with male sexuality and gender fluidity and is not shy about it. 

We see someone questioning and actually changing conversations in fashion, and know that her journey only just began. 

Ajose Muftau Femi (Fashion Stylist/Designer) 

Femi styles Fashion shows, editorials and personal wardrobes. He has a name for most of his work and they are not what you hear every day – there is a conscious combination of the personality of the character and what he imagines he wants to do. He has worked on the following shows: Lagos Fashion Week, Fashions Finest Africa, Africa, ECOWAS Fashion Week Benin Republic, Africa International Fashion Week, etc. His big break came in 2017 when he worked with the GT Fashion Weekend team. 

He has styled editorials and covers for La Mode Magazine, Escape Magazine, Vanguard Allure, Taylor Live Magazine, Fashion Online Magazine, Truth Music Magazine. It does not end there. Femi has worked with Iyanya, Belinda Effah, IK Ogbonna, Beverly Osu, Nnamdi Ezeigbo (CEO, Slot), Jim Iyke, Isilomo (BBNaija), Frodd (BBNaija), Lisa Omorodion, Ric Hassani, Stephanie Coker, Bolanle Olukanni, Victor AD among others. 

Femi has styled the collection of Taibo Bacar, David Tlale, Mimi Plange, Ituen Basi, Mai Atafo, Laquan Smith, Julien McDonald, Imane Ayissi, Style Temple, Studio 189, etc.

To cap it, he launched his Fashion Line “Cute-Saint” in May 2019, with a resort collection tagged “Gene Explosion” which debuted at Fashion Finest Africa, Ghana Menswear Week, Africa Fashion Week London and Style by Zenith. The brand has been worn by a couple of personalities ranging from Victor AD, Isilomo (BBNaija), Blaq Bonez, Yonda, amongst others.

Ayodeji Olatunji (Cracker Mallo) 

We know how producers are relatively out of the picture when we have discussions around Nigerian sounds. Cracker Mallo is not looking back on his journey towards being a household name. Indeed, he produced some of the biggest sounds in the first quarter of 2019. 

He started out as a DJ and wanted to add another skill to his table, going on to learn music production. The young music producer is now titled producer, songwriter and singer. He released his 6-track EP Sugarbanana in 2017 and, produced Dbanj’s hit song Issa Banger featuring Slimcase and Mr Real in 2018. 

Ayodeji dreams of collaborating with Wizkid, Pharrell Williams, Rihanna, ASA, Chris Brown and Timberland and has kicked off producing Fireboy’s Jealous that caught everyone’s attention in the industry and Mayorkun’s Sope; both of which got to his doorstep mistakenly. 

He says he is different from other music producers in the industry and his creative process is not defined by rules – it is dynamic. 

Apampa Oluwadamilola (Dammy Twitch) 

Dammy has been doing Photography since 2013 and started ‘playing’ with video editing in 2017. By the end of 2017, he launched his company to start editing music videos. And, within a space of two years in the music industry, he has achieved feats some of his older colleagues can only dream of. Dammy has shot videos for some of Nigeria’s biggest musicians like Davido, Falz, Burna Boy, Dremo and Mayorkun.

His career started on a big note as his first music video was for the ‘African Music Giant’ Burna Boy in 2017. That same year, he shot DMW’s Aje in Senegal – made possible through Davido. 

With Dave Meyers, Director X, Meji Alabi and others “influencing his work”, we expect to see more of Dammy Twitch even beyond 2020. 

Thank God Omori (TG Omori)

There is an uprising in Nigeria, especially Lagos and, while we thought the tech ecosystem will boss over everything, the creative scene is making bold, eager steps, pushing boundaries beyond acceptance. TG Omori is one of such young people breathing new ideas into the creative space –  He is having his cake in the directing space. 

We already had Meji Alabi, Daps taking over from Clarence Peters and DJ Tee, but TG Omori came and is already making waves and has been nothing short of consistent with his visuals. The film director worked on some of Nigeria’s most prominent music videos of 2019. From Olamide’s Oil and Gas, Tekno’s Agege, Ycee’s My Side, to Timaya’s Stoopid and Naira Marley’s Am I a Yahoo Boy.

He is, indeed, part of an eager generation taking charge and trying to upset convention with radical decisions. And guess what? The internet is there to help TG every step of the way. 

Peter Kelvin Amba  (Kel P)

For Peter, there seems to be no outstanding obstacle as he progresses. A few years ago – three or less – he was just another Nigerian if you met him on the streets. He must have been working hard to fall in line and, in almost no time, he has worked for Burna Boy and Wizkid. He had earlier produced Solidstar’s Eleganza, that earned him a space in the spotlight, and Ceeza Milli’s Yapa which was a chart-topper. For Burna Boy, it is the Grammy-nominated album African Giant. Shortly after, Kel-P went on to collaborate with Wizkid on three tracks from the SoundMan Vol. 1 EP. 

Now, the music producer has plans to spread his limbs and has collaborations with foreign acts on the way – Future inclusive. This only points to one thing: his space on the map is reserved and we know he will keep up his pace. 

Somadina (Singer) 

Your conversation around Somadina will start from the fact that she has been a feminist advocate. She argued, in an interview, that she won’t want to be in any rivalry with other female musicians and so, she is using creativity to dominate her world. 

Somadina has released two commendable singles: IHY and Lay Low. IHY is a breakup song that helped earmark the singer’s potential – a bit of bold R&B-pop. She was featured on a list by Complex UK, who profiled ten Nigerian artists to watch out for in 2020. She once tweeted: this year gonna be a great year I can already tell and we want to add that: we know this!

PsychoYP (Singer) 

Does Apex Village ring a bell? Well, it is an Abuja-based music group, and PsychoYP is one trap artist from the group, who has proven to be remarkable. He has been on the music scene for more than 2 years but his big break came when he featured YCEE, Dremo and Blaqbonez in a remix of a previously released single, OGA, about nine months ago. 

He released his sophomore project, YPSZN2, and sliced through working with other great artists in the industry, including Ladipoe, BOJ, Skales, etc. His body of work says one thing: He is ready to show Nigerians that trap music is a thing and can be commercialised. He is a gem waiting to be discovered – so we bring him to you. 

Gigi Atlantis (Singer/Songwriter)

Gigi infuses anything that can be called bedroom pop with some form of RnB. Starting only in 2018 and releasing Wahala on the rocks, 2020 and Tequila Crush, Gigi has already gathered a fan base that have turned to loyal people – most likely because she is keen on exerting herself for who she is. 

Her records show a confident woman, exuding ‘calm’ innocence, as she advocates a world where a woman’s freedom is respected, among others. She, no doubt, proves herself worthy of our attention.

Amarachi Nwosu (Melanin Unscripted) 

Amarachi’s involvement in music, fashion, sports and social impact tells you this is someone who aims to drive conversations in culture. Her work is a conscious effort to fill up vacuums through visual story-telling and community impact. 

The photographer and storyteller has worked with Adidas Originals to fuse inspiration and selling, just like a good campaign would do. She documented Malala Yousafzai’s visit to Tokyo in 2019; shot a fashion story, sanmi.adeola@ynaija.com you have at the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana for Vogue; was a reliable resource when Naomi Campbell visited Lagos, 2019; directed short films on the power of women in sports for companies like Nike in Nigeria; directed the launch of Budweiser in Nigeria through their Budx platform; worked as the tour photographer for Childish Gambino during his 2018 ‘This is America’ tour, among other jobs. 

And with Melanin Unscripted, she is focused on eliminating conventions and connect racial dots. You cannot sleep on this one. 

Pelumi Obanure (Photographer)

Pelumi studied Design & Architecture and definitely got some of his inspiration from there. He is a seasoned editorial and fashion photographer whose work is heavily influenced by his love for detail, structure and ability to use his surroundings as his canvas. With photography, Pelumi strives to not only tell an effective human story but to also elevate people’s consciousness of themselves through images.

His most recent project, a photo series titled “adé” seeks to explore his ancestry, the Yoruba culture – its heritage and history – against the backdrop of colonialism and forced hegemony.  Rooted in deep history, “adé” is the reclaiming of lost royalty. 

With a B.A. in Advertising, Public Relations and Media from Middlesex University, Pelumi serves as the Creative Director at New Hope International School, Abuja. 

Pelumi currently divides his time between three cities: Abuja, Lagos and Accra and has worked with big names including Denola Grey, the Otedola sisters etc. And, was nominated for photographer of the year by the under 30 CEO’s Network Africa in 2019.

AbdulRasaq Babalola (The Shirtless Photographer) 

One thing that will first capture your attention here is the difference. Abdulrasaq’s work might remind you of the poem: Wasteland, where ‘dirt’ is celebrated; drawing from aesthetic instances. He seems to draw from street life in urban spheres and tells a story with it. With him, there is really no wasteland – it is just art everywhere or transformable art. He seems to seek inspiration from life experiences and basically everything abstract, abnormal, and unusual that people tend to ignore.

He speaks from Perliks Definition and drives at creating art that triggers an emotional reaction from people. He uses his art to bring unique thoughts to life. Some call it crazy but we all have to take risks at some point in our lives. 

As Perliks Definition, AbdulRasaq has worked with A-list celebrities including 9ice, YCEE, Reminisce, Baddy-Osha, and brands like SAMSUNG STILLBROKE, EDGE RECORD LABEL, ARISTOKRAT RECORDS, HG2 MAGAZINE etc. 

One of his portraits won the Most Creative Picture at Hypebuzz Creative Awards in 2018.

Odysseus Vrakas – Aerial Geeks

Odysseus launched AerialGeeks to ‘do it differently’. His big break came when the Production Manager for Brymo’s Rhythm Unplugged met him, liked his work and invited him for a commercial for Adidas Originals in Ghana. The energy and creativity put in to the work exposed him to other potential clients; who wanted to have a feel of his imagination. 

He has used his experience for movies like Omoye, Run, Alakada Reloaded etc. He has been on the team for commercials for MTN, British American Tobacco and, events like Access Bank Lagos Marathon and Art X Lagos. Odysseus has also ventured into surveys, mapping and construction as well. 

The young drone maister has been inspired by the versatility of automation and how it can influence and affect the economy and workforce. He looks to spread his innovative and creative imagination and we are here for it. 


    • Hi Chima,

      Thank you for showing your interest in being a contributor for Y! Africa.

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