LIST OF SUPER NIGERIANS

Law Enforcement Excellence
Olu Francis OgunsakinLondon, United Kingdom
Industry: Law Enforcement
Job Title: Director, Policing Center of Excellence
Age: 53 years
Gender: Male

Dr. Olu Francis Ogunsakin is and the Director of the Policing Center of Excellence (PCoE) and the Senior Advisor of London Police. Ogunsakin received his primary and secondary education in Nigeria, graduating from SDA Grammar School in Ede, Nigeria in 1978.  He graduated from St. Clair College in Canada where he majored in Accounting and received his three year administration diploma 1982. Ogunsakin then went on to receive his Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Development from the University of Detroit in the United States in 1987. He received his Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from the same institution in 1988 before going on to obtain his Ph.D. in Police Studies in 1997 from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom.

Early in his career, Dr. Olu Francis Ogunsakin worked as a Consultant for a home office, a Syndicate Director for the Strategic Command Course at Police Staff College in the small village of Bramshill in Hampshire, England, and as a Guest Lecturer for the European Police College (CEPOL). He has also worked as a Trainer for the National Crime Squad and as an Associate Lecturer for the National School of Government. Ogunsakin has also worked as a Consultant for a variety of organizations including the Judicial Appointments Commission, the Serious Organized Crime Agency, the Nigerian Police Force, and the Metropolitan Police.

Dr. Olu Francis Ogunsakin has worked in the United States, Nigeria, Canada, France, Italy, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and Malawi. He has trained officers and delegations around the world in several police training courses and workshops. Dr. Ogunsakin specializes in police training and strategies, human resources development, crime investigation, police policies, human rights, counter terrorism, public safety, and international relations.

Television Journalist and Correspondent
Michael OkwuBurbank,California,United States
Industry: Media
Job Title: Journalist
Age: 49 years
Gender: Male

Nigerian-American television journalist, Michael Okwu, has carved a niche for himself in the competitive U.S. media industry. Okwu, who was born in Nigeria, but has lived for a long time in both Europe and the United States, is without question very westernized; but his is proud to point out his ancestry: “When people ask me where I am from, I tell them I was born in Nigeria, and I am Nigerian, and I have lived in United States for the majority of my life. I was born in Nigeria, I grew up in a thoroughly Nigerian household, a proud Nigerian household.”

Okwu, who hails from Emekuku Egbu in Imo state of Nigeria attended Phillips Exeter Academy, New Hampshire, and Harvard University where he bagged a Bachelor’s degree in government.

His broadcast career started in 1987 when he joined CNN as a behind-the-scene associate producer, assignment editor and field producer, before going in front of the camera as a correspondent in 1996. Okwu co-presented CNN’s ‘Showbiz Today Reports’ between 1997 and 2007, working both as CNN Entertainment News correspondent as well as a full-time general assignment correspondent. He also contributed to the news magazine program ‘CNN NewsStand’.

While working at CNN’s New York bureau, Okwu covered many breaking news and feature stories, such as the ground-zero search and rescue efforts, the D.C. sniper case, the T.W.A. flight 800 crash, the Elisabeth Smart kidnapping, political races in New York and the United Nations.

In April 2004, Okwu joined the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) as a correspondent contributing to the broadcast station’s ‘Today’ show, ‘NBC Nightly News’ and ‘MSNBC’.

Okwu’s accomplishments in journalism have not gone unnoticed. Some of the recognition he has received includes that from the National Association of Black Journalists for his feature report on racism in Hollywood and Emmy Award and Cable ACE Awards as part of the CNN production team that covered the Oklahoma City bombing.

Television Journalist and Correspondent
Adaora UdojiNew York,New York,United States
Industry: Media
Job Title: Journalist
Age: 44 years
Gender: Female

In 2009, Essence Magazine named Adaora Udoji One of The 25 Most Influential African Americans. Adaora Udoji is a Nigerian-American journalist who received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and her law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles. She was born in 1969 to Godfrey and Mary Udoji who reside in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Adaora Udoji began her career with ABC News in 1995 as an off-air reporter covering legal stories including the trial of O.J. Simpson. After only one year of working with ABC News, Adaora was promoted in 1996, becoming an associate producer. In this position, Udoji worked on a documentary about death row as part of a team of individuals who received the CINE Eagle Award for the finished documentary which aired in 1997.

Udoji also covered the presidential election and the TWA 800 crash for ABC News. In 2000, she became a foreign correspondent based in London, where she reported on international stories in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. In 2001, she reported from Pakistan on the war in Afghanistan. Udoji also contributed to ABC Radio, Good Morning America, and World News Weekend. She reported from Israel on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and reported from the Vatican City on events related to Pope John Paul II.

Adaora began working for CNN in 2003 as a correspondent based in New York. In this position, she reported on a variety of high profile stories including Hurricane Katrina, another presidential election, and the West Virginia Sago mine disaster. She also reported on the Iraq war from Iraq and the Persian Gulf in 2003. She was on the CNN news team that won the network a Peabody Award for their coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Udoji was named as a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow in 2005, and was recognized in 2002 by The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for her coverage of the war in Afghanistan. She was awarded The Forty Under Forty Achievement Statute by the Network Journal and in 2007 was made an Honoree for the World Diversity Leadership Conference held by the United Nations. This incredibly successful and influential woman currently resides with her husband and daughter in New Jersey.

Fighting poverty and hunger globally
Dr. Yaya OlaniranRome,Italy
Industry: Government / Politics
Job Title: Chairman, Committee on World Food Security (CFS)
Gender: Male

An inspiring man, Dr. Yaya Olaniran is an advocate for the poor, working to encourage and enable those in poverty to look after one another and to improve their incomes and the quality of their lives. Dr. Yaya Olaniran is a successful Nigerian man who has dedicated his life to working towards the eradication of hunger and enabling individuals in poor rural communities to overcome poverty. Dr. Yaya Olaniran’s mission in life is to work towards improving agriculture and spreading a message of hope and empowerment in poor rural communities in Brazil, Africa, and other impoverished communities throughout the world.

In 2003, Dr. Yaya Olaniran participated in the first African Postgraduate International Nematology Course (PINC) alumni meet, a one year course held at Ghent University in Belgium. Dr. Yaya Olaniran appeared at a meeting of the Nigeria Network of the Sustainable Tree Crops Program (NN—STCP) as the coordinator for the National Tree Nursery Development Program. This organization promotes economic wellbeing and environmental sustainability of tree crop farms in West African communities.

In October of 2011, Dr. Yaya Olaniran was elected as the chairman for the Committee of World Food Security (CFS) for a two year term. As the permanent Nigerian representative for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Mr. Yaya Olaniran focuses on changing the psychology of individuals living in poverty and helping communities to become self sufficient. IFAD funded interventions give the poor access to assistance with the intention of promoting financial independence in communities which are far below the poverty line. The CFS focuses on ensuring food security and adequate nutrition for individuals around the world.

Globally Acclaimed Singer / Composer
Sade AduStroud,United Kingdom
Industry: Entertainment / Sports
Job Title: Singer, Songwriter, Producer
Age: 54 years
Gender: Female

Want to be held hostage by the power of a song? Listen to Sade. This daughter of both Africa and Europe (a Nigerian dad and English mom) has just the right magic in her love songs to hold you captive. But you won’t complain.

Born Helen Folasade Adu on January 16, 1959 in Ibadan, Oyo state of Nigeria, to Adebisi Adu, a Nigerian lecturer in Economics and Anne Hayes, an English nurse, Sade Adu is a gifted singer and songwriter.

Starting out, music was not her first interest; she went to St. Martin’s School of Art to study Fashion Design, even working as a model while in college. She only began singing after two old school friends with a fledgling group approached her to help them out with vocals. It was then she discovered her love for writing songs.
In 1981, she became a back-up singer for a North London Latin Funk band called Pride. It was as a member of ‘Pride’ that she performed the song, ‘Smooth Operator’ which she co-wrote, attracting the attention of record company talent scouts.

In 1983, she signed a solo deal with Epic Records and took three of her band mates from Pride along. Sade’s first single, Your Love is King became a Top 10 British Hit in February 1984. Their debut album, Diamond Life which was also released in the same year with hit tracks like ‘Smooth Operator’, began what was to be a string of album successes.

In 1986, her impressive career received another boost when she released the second album, Promise, which had the worldwide hit single, The Sweetest Taboo, making her and the band the largest selling debutant of British origin.
The year 1994 saw the release of The Best of Sade, a compilation of hit singles produced by the songstress and her band over the years. After a long while, she came out with Lover’s Rock (2000) which won a Grammy for Best Vocal. Other awards won by Sade and her brand include a Grammy for Best New Artist (1986) and Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group (1994) and BPI ‘Brit Award’ for Best Album (1985).

Sade is considered the most successful solo female artist in British history, thanks to her selling over 110 million albums worldwide. In 2002, she was made an officer of the order of the British Empire for services to popular music.

In 2005, Sade recorded a new track, Mum, which she had earlier performed at the Voices for Darfur charity concert on 8th December, 2004, at the Royal Albert Hall in London, to raise awareness and funding for the crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region. Her 2010 effort, Soldier of Love, has been a huge success, never mind that she did not record for a very long while. This current album topped the music charts in the 14 countries, selling 15 million copies worldwide in its first week
Sade currently lives in Stroud, United Kingdom, with partner Ian, his son, Jack and her daughter Ila.  An outstanding artist!

Singer, Song-Writer
Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide SamuelLos Angeles,California,United States
Industry: Entertainment / Sports
Job Title: Musician
Age: 50 years
Gender: Male

Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel is a British soul and R&B singer-songwriter of Nigerian and Brazilian descent. Known simply as Seal, he captivates with music that is charged with social, spiritual and emotional urgency and his rich cigar-and-brandy timbre voice.

Born on 19th February 1963, Seal was raised in a district of the city of Westminster in inner London by his foster family. He received a diploma in architecture and worked in various jobs in the London area.

He started out singing in local clubs and bars in the 1980s before joining Push, a British funk band he toured Japan with. While in Asia, he joined a blues band in Thailand for a while, before separating from the group and journeying throughout India on his own.

He got his break when he met the Producer Adamski. With his singing the vocals of ‘Killer’, lyrics he was given, the song became a huge hit in 1990, reaching number one in the UK. Seal subsequently signed to ZTT Records and released his debut album (produced by Trevor Horn) self-titled ‘Seal’ in 1991.

Critics positively received seal. The singles ‘Crazy’, ‘Future Love Paradise’ and his own rendition of ‘Killer’ did well on the charts, with ‘Crazy’ becoming an international hit in 1991 and reaching number 7 on the Billboard Music Charts and number 2 in the UK.

This was just the beginning. The 1992 Brit Awards held at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, saw Seal stealing the show with a bunch of wins in different categories: Best British Male, Best British Video (“Killer”) and Best British Album. Seal was later that year to perform at Wembley’s stadium with the surviving members of the band Queen in a tribute to their late front man, Freddie Mercury.

In 1992, he appeared on the Red Hot Organization’s compilation CD ‘Red Hot + Dance’, contributing an exclusive track ‘Crazy (If I Was Trev Mix)’. The album, which also featured George Michael and Madonna among others, raised money and awareness in support of the AIDS epidemic by donating all proceeds to AIDS charities.
He released a second album also self-titled ‘Seal II’ in 1994 that was nominated for Album of the Year. ‘Kiss from the Rose’ a single from this album started off as a modest beginning but was later to gain wider popularity when it was remixed as soundtrack to Batman Forever. This single also won three Grammy Awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 1996. It also topped the Billboard Hot 100 in the US in late August 1995.

Seal has released other albums or singles, such as  ‘Human being’, ‘Togetherland’, Seal IV (2003), System (2007), Soul (2008), Commitment (2010) and Soul 2 (2011) and a greatest hits compilation. ‘This Could Be Heaven’, released in the US, featured on ‘The Family Man’ soundtrack.

Seal has worked with some of the music industry’s notable stars, including performing with Jeff Beck for a tribute to Jimi Hendrix, contributing vocals to a cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine” in a Herbie Hancock album (2010), and participating in The Imagine Project with Pink, India Arie, Jeff Beck and a host of others.

Renowned Novelist
Chinua AchebeProvidence,Rhode Island,United States
Industry: The Arts
Job Title: Novelist, Poet, Professor, Humanist
Age: 83 years
Gender: Male
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Chinua Achebe, who is often referred to as the founding father of African Literature, is probably Africa’s most widely read novelist. His debut novel, Things Fall Apart, written in 1958 when Achebe was only 28, is widely read around the world. It was indeed one of the first novels written by an African to receive global acclaim.

Known for his simplicity in writing, he was born Albert Chinualumogo Achebe on the 16th of November, 1930, and was raised by Christian Evangelical parents in the large village of Ogidi, in Igboland, Eastern Nigeria.

He attended Government College, Umuahia in 1944 and, in 1948, was given a scholarship to study medicine at the University College (now the University of Ibadan). Changing his course to study English, history and theology, Achebe was to lose this scholarship. While at the university, he began writing short stories, the first of which was ‘In a Village Church’. He served as the editor in the university’s magazine, Herald, between 1951-1952.

After his graduation in 1953, he worked as a teacher for a short spell before joining the Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS) in Lagos in 1954. It was while at NBS that he published  ‘Things Fall Apart’. The book has become one of the most important books in African Literature, selling over 8 million copies around the world, and translated into 50 languages, which makes him the most translated African writer of all time.

In 1966, Achebe left his career at NBC because of the national unrest and violence that led to the Nigerian civil war. In 1967, he co-founded a publishing company, Citadel Press at Enugu, with gifted poet, Christopher Okigbo. The company ended after the death of Okigbo during the civil war. Still, many of his poems written during the war were collected in Beware, Soul Brother (1971), which won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize.

After the war, he joined the African Studies department at the University of Nigerian and, in 1971, began editing Okike, a prestigious Nigerian Literary magazine.

Achebe’s works show his fascination with world religions and traditional African cultures. Other notable works of his include ‘No Longer at Ease’ (1960), ‘Arrow of God’ (1964), ‘A Man of the People’ (1966) and ‘Anthills of the Savannah’ (1987). His essay collections include ‘Morning Yet On Creation Day’ (1975), ‘Hopes and Impediments’ (1988) and the ‘Trouble with Nigeria’ (1983). He also wrote children’s books such as ‘Chike and the River’ (1966), ‘The Flute’ (1975) and ‘The Drum’ (1978).

He has received more than 20 honorary doctorates and several international literary prizes that include a Margaret Wron Prize, the New Statesman Jock Campbell Prize, the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, and the 2887 Man Booker International Award.
In 1990, he had a car accident in Lagos, which left him confined to a wheelchair. Achebe, who is married with four children and five grandchildren, is currently a David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and Professor of African Studies at Brown University, United States.

Africa's Top Billionaire
Aliko DangoteLagos,Nigeria
Industry: Business
Job Title: Businessman
Age: 56 years
Gender: Male

Aliko Dangote is Africa’s most successful businessman and a self made billionaire. This Nigerian born entrepreneur was revealed in a recent issue of Forbes Magazine (March, 2011), as being the richest man in Africa and 51st richest person in the world, with a net worth of US $13.8 Billion.

The business studies graduate from Al-Azhar University, Cairo, started up his own business in 1977 with a loan provided him by his wealthy uncle. His company, Dangote Group, of which he is the Chairman and CEO, was originally a small trading firm, but has now blossomed into a multi-trillion Naira conglomerate with operations in Nigeria and across Africa.

The Dangote Group currently has 13 subsidiaries: cement, sugar, noodles, pasta, flour, salt, poly products, logistics, real estate, telecom, steel, oil and gas, beverages and philanthropy. The Dangote Foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of the group, yearly spends millions for worthy causes such as contributions to educational and healthcare institutions, awarding of scholarship and sinking of boreholes to provide access to drinking water.

Referred to in Nigeria’s business circles as the ‘golden child’, Dangote has received many awards both within and outside Nigeria in recognition of his achievements and philanthropy. They include Business World Investor of the Year (2010), The Fate Foundation Model Entrepreneur of the Decade (2010) and the Sun Man of the Year (2010). His company was also rated among the Top 40 African Challengers in 2010 by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and adjudged the Investor of the Year by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) and the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) in 2010.

Dangote, who is married with three children, has been invested with the national honors of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) and the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON), which is Nigeria’s second highest national honor.

Energy and Shipping Entrepreneur
Femi OtedolaLagos,Nigeria
Industry: Business
Job Title: Businessman
Age: 46 years
Gender: Male

Femi Otedola is a force to reckon with in the Nigerian oil and gas circle. Otedola, who is the Chairman of African Petroleum PLC, is one of two Nigerians (along with Aliko Dangote) to appear on the 2009 Forbes list of world’s billionaires, with an estimated net worth of over USD $1.2 Billion.
Otedola, son of former Lagos state governor, Sir Michael Otedola, was born in 1967 in Epe town, near Lagos, and started out in business in 1994. After consolidating his father’s businesses, he diversified and setup his own company, Centreforce Limited which specialized in finance, investment and trading. In 1999, he ventured into the oil and gas sector and incorporated Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited.

Zenon has grown to become the dominant force in the diesel and kerosene marketing business, supplying many of Nigeria’s top companies across various industries, from manufacturing to communications; companies such as Cadbury, Coca Cola, Nigerian Breweries, MTN, Nestle, Unilever’s Guinness, etc. The company has been rated among the top five companies in Nigeria.
Otedola is the owner of one of the largest oil storage facilities in Nigeria that he purchased for N2.8 billion. In a deft move to strengthen the distributive arm of his business, he purchased hundred brand new trucks valued at N1.3 billion and acquired a massive flat bottom bunker vessel with a storage capacity of 16, 000 metric tons of diesel for 6.8 million dollars. Zenon also owns four cargo ships. Otedola’s other investments include ownership of companies such as Atlas Shipping Agency, Swift Insurance, FO Properties Limited and FO Transport.

Otedola, who is married with four children, attributes his success to hard work and being focused. In a patriotic display of love of country, he was once quoted in an interview as saying “We are investing our money here, to create job opportunities for people. Nobody is going to take the money outside the country”.

In 2004, he was appointed member of the Governing Council of Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) as well as member of the Committee with the task of fostering business relationship between Nigerian and South African private sectors.

He was appointed a pioneer director of the Transnational Corporation of Nigeria PLC in 2005 and also elected President of the Nigeria Chamber of Shipping. Otedola is a fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Shipping.

Fiction Writer, Rising Talent
Chimamanda AdichieUnverified,Massachusetts,United States
Industry: The Arts
Job Title: Writer
Age: 36 years
Gender: Female

Chimamanda Adichie is someone worth watching. This foremost young fiction writer to come out of Nigeria in the recent past has demonstrated without question the fresh breath of talent that she is, with her writing receiving wonderful reviews not only in Africa but also in the United States and Europe.

Adichie was born on September 15, 1977 in Enugu, Nigeria to parents who were employees in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). She grew up in the university community and in a house formerly occupied by Prof. Chinua Achebe, Africa’s foremost literature giant, who is also her mentor.

Chimamanda attended the University of Nigeria Secondary School, Nsukka, where she received several academic prizes. She got admitted to study medicine at UNN but stayed only for a year and half. While at UNN, she edited ‘The Compass’ a magazine run by the University’s Catholic Medical students.

At age 19, she left for the United States to study Communication on a 2-year scholarship at Drexel University in Philadelphia. From there, she went on to pursue a degree in communication and political science at Eastern Connecticut State University, where she graduated with highest honors in 2001. She has also completed a master’s degree in creative writing at John Hopkins University, Baltimore as well as another master’s degree in African studies from Yale University (2008).

Following the path of her mentor, Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda tells the stories of Africa just the way they are. Through her writings, she is able to illuminate the complexities of human experience in her works, which are inspired by events in Nigeria.

Her first novel, ‘ Purple Hibiscus’ (2003) has received wide critical acclaim. It was short-listed for Orange Prize for Fiction (2004) and awarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (2005).

Her second novel, ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ (2006) won Orange Prize for Fiction (2007). Her collection of short stories, ‘The Thing around Your Neck’ was published in 2009. She has also written short stories that have appeared in publications such as the New Yorker, Granta and the Virginia Quarterly Review.

She was a Hodder fellow at Princeton University during the 2005-2006 academic year and was also awarded a 2011-2012 fellowship by Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. In 2008 she was awarded a Macarthur Fellowship.

Chimamanda divides her time between Nigeria, where she regularly teaches writing workshops, and the United States where she is often invited on speaking and other literary engagements.

Nobel Laureate, Celebrated Author
Wole SoyinkaMultipleCities,Nevada,United States
Industry: The Arts
Job Title: Author, Poet, Professor, Voice of Conscience
Age: 79 years
Gender: Male

Celebrated Nigerian Nobel Literature Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, is more than just a playwright. He is also an actor, poet, teacher, social critic and political activist.

Soyinka, who hails from the city of Abeokuta in Ogun state of Nigeria, is the maternal cousin to the late Afro-beat musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Late Beko Ransome-Kuti. He attended the University College, Ibadan (now, University of Ibadan) and also the University of Leeds, United Kingdom, where he graduated in 1957 with a First class honors degree in English.

In 1958, he wrote his first major play, ‘The Swamp Dwellers’. A year later, he wrote ‘The Lion and the Jewel’, a comedy which received interest from several members of London’s Royal Court Theatre. This fetched him a job as a play reader at the Royal Court Theatre.

In 1960, he returned to Nigeria to study African drama on the Rockefeller bursary awarded him. While in Nigeria, he taught drama and literature in the University of Ife, University of Ibadan and University of Lagos. In 1960, he also founded the theatre group, ‘The 1960 Masks’ (which later became the ‘Orisun Theatre Company’ in 1964), where he produced his own plays and took part as an actor.

Soyinka has written over 20 works in drama, the novel and poetry. His plays, though in English, incorporate the music, dance and the words of traditional Yoruba festivals. His literary language is marked by great scope of richness of words. He documents not only the struggles of his homeland, Nigeria, but also that of the African continent as a whole.

Some of the works published by him include ‘The Lion and the Jewel’ (1963), ‘The Trial of Brother Jero’ (1963), ‘Death and the King’s Horseman’ (1975), ‘A Play of Giants’ (1984), ‘The Interpreters’ (1965) and ‘The Man Died: Prison Notes’ (1972), which was an autobiography of his stay in prison.

The playwright has been an implacable, consistent and outspoken critic of many Nigerian military dictators and political tyrannies worldwide. A great deal of his writing has been concerned with the oppressive nature of those in power and the oppressed. This activism often exposed him to great personal risk. One of such experiences was during the Nigerian civil war that broke out in 1967. Soyinka appealed in an article for a cease-fire. For this, he was arrested, accused of conspiring with Biafran rebels and was held as a political prisoner for 22 months, until his released in 1969.

Soyinka, together with theatre director Richard Schechner, actor Alan Cumming and filmmaker Brad May, was interviewed about The Bacchae as part of the series Invitation to World Literature, which officially launched on Annenberg Media’s educational website on September, 2010. The series, produced by Annie Wong for WGBH Boston, began airing nationally on PBS in October, 2010. Soyinka continues to serve as resource person globally while acting as inspiration and voice of conscience to leaders.

Soyinka, who is easily recognizable by his shock of white hair and matching beard, has won numerous awards and honors. In 1994, he was designated UNESCO’s Goodwill Ambassador for the promotion of African culture, human rights, freedom of expression, media and communication. Others include the Nobel Prize for Literature (1986) and the Agip Prize for Literature (1986). He was also awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Leeds (1973), Harvard University (1993) and Princeton University (2005).

He is currently the Elias Ghanem Professor of Creative Writing at the English department of University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the President’s Marymount Institute Professor in Residence at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California.

Blazing Trails in Research and Development
Oluwatosin O DadaNotre Dame,Indiana,United States
Industry: Science & Tech.
Job Title: Research Assistant Professor
Age: 36 years
Gender: Male

Dr. Oluwatosin O. Dada is a Nigerian born American immigrant who attended Olabisi Onabanjo University in Nigeria where he received his bachelor’s degree in industrial chemistry in 2001. He immigrated to America in 2004 and attended Utah State University where he received his Ph.D. in analytical chemistry in 2008. He then spent two years as a postdoctoral research associate at Seattle’s University of Washington.

Dr. Dada currently works as a research assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame. In 2010, at the age of 34, Dr. Dada received the Best Paper Award from the Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry journal for his research on capillary isoelectric focusing and the published paper titled, “Capillary array isoelectric focusing with laser-induced fluorescence detection: milli-pH unit resolution and yoctomole mass detection limits in a 32-channel system,” of which he is the lead author.

Dr. Oluwatosin O. Dada has developed an unusually high performing 32-capillary isoelectric focusing instrument. This instrument allows researchers to analyze 60 samples per hour, which is the highest ever reported. The instrument is also the most sensitive ever reported with a detection limit of 250 molecules. It also has the highest resolution capillary isoelectric focusing separation. This instrument is not only faster and more sensitive with a higher resolution, but it also makes it much easier to automate for high-throughput analysis. The new technology developed by Dr. Dada and his collegues will improve disease diagnosis, therapeutic and recombinant protein characterization, and systems biology studies.

Dr. Dada is currently continuing his research on photothermal instrumentation for bioanalysis and capillary electrophoresis with laser-induced fluorescence. He and his coworkers continue to focus on new analytical approaches to confront the issue of time-consuming analytical procedures in environmental and biological sciences.

Journalist and Presenter
Femi OkeNew York,New York,United States
Industry: Media
Job Title: Journalist
Age: 47 years
Gender: Female

Femi Oke is a journalist and television presenter who was born in Britain in 1966 to Nigerian parents. She received her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Language in 1988 from Birmingham University. Oke actually began her career in journalism and reporting at the age of 14 when she worked as a junior reporter for LBC which was the United Kingdom’s first talk radio station. In 1993, she began working for Wire TV, a cable station, where she presented television shows like Soap on the Wire. She also presented Top of the Pops and Science in Action for the BBC.

She says that her mother first noticed her journalistic and reporting abilities when she was eight years old, “broadcasting live from the kitchen table” about the family’s weekend adventures. Throughout her childhood and teenager years, she enjoyed reporting about children’s television shows and reading classic novels. She describes her radio listening habits during childhood as “obsessive”, and fell in love with her position with LBC at the age of 14. Oke says that it was at this time that she knew that she wanted to be involved in broadcast radio and reporting for the rest of her life.

Femi Oke has worked for London Weekend Television, Carlton Television, Men and Motors, Your World Today, World News, Inside Africa, Sky TV, National Geographic, and GMTV. From 1999 to 2008, she worked as an anchor for CNN International’s World Weather Service in Atlanta, Georgia. She currently lives and works in New York as the senior editor and special correspondent for public radio’s newest morning news show, The Takeaway

Hakeem The Dream
Hakeem OlajuwonHouston,Texas,United States
Industry: Entertainment / Sports
Job Title: Retired Professional Basket Ball Player / Businessman
Age: 50 years
Gender: Male

Hakeem Olajuwon is a nearly seven-foot tall, retired American basketball player who was born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1963. He was raised in Nigeria, went to high school at the Muslim Teachers College, and did not move to the United States until he was drafted by the University of Houston to play basketball for the Houston Rockets under Coach Guy Lewis along with Charles Barkley, John Stockton, and Michael Jordan in 1984.

Hakeem Olajuwon was the third of six children born to cement business owners, Salim and Abike Olajuwon. Interestingly enough, when considering his great success in basketball, Hakeem’s last name means “always on top” in Yoruba. Olajuwon played soccer as a child as a goalkeeper, which taught him how to balance his size and his strength. He was 15 when he was introduced to basketball by entering a local tournament. He quickly fell in love with the game, which made great use of the skills he had learned in soccer.

When Hakeem Olajuwon first moved to the United States, he spelled his name, “Akeem” and he was soon given the nickname, “Akeem the Dream,” due to his gracefulness. Later, in 1988, he and Ralph Sampson were given the nickname, “The Twin Towers,” until Sampson was traded to Oakland, California’s Golden Warriors. At this time, Olajuwon became the undisputed leader of the Houston Rockets.

Hakeem Olajuwon is considered to be one of the best centers to have ever played the game. He is the league’s all-time leader in blocks with 3,830 blocks in his career. Olajuwon helped the United States national team to win an Olympic gold medal in 1996, and he was named as one of the 50 Greatest Members in NBA History..

Creating a Breakthrough Auto Concept
Jacob Taio CruzLondon,United Kingdom
Industry: Entertainment / Sports
Job Title: Singer, Songwriter, Producer
Age: 30 years
Gender: Male

Music Maker and Entrepreneur

 

Jelani AliyuDetroit ,Michigan,United States
Industry: Science & Tech.
Job Title: Auto Designer
Age: 49 years
Gender: Male

Jelani Aliyu is the Nigerian born prodigy who designed the Chevrolet Volt, a state-of-the-art electric car, for General Motors. Aliyu began his career with General Motors in 1994 with a degree in automobile design received from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan. He was born in 1966 in Sokoto State in Nigeria. From a large family, Aliyu was the fifth of seven children born to the same parents, and has two more siblings from his father’s second marriage. Both of his parents are deceased and did not have the fortune of witnessing their fifth child rise to greatness with General Motors.

Jelani Aliyu attended the Federal Government College in Sokoto, Nigeria, graduated in 1983 and received an award for Best in Technical Drawing. He then studied design at two other colleges in Nigeria and received his Associate’s degree in Architecture from Birnin Kebbi Polytechnic in 1988, where he was recognized as the Best Student. In 1990, Aliyu moved to Detroit, Michigan to enroll at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit where he received his degree in automobile design in 1994 before beginning his career with the design staff of General Motors. He worked on the Buick Rendezvous and was the lead exterior designer of the Pontiac G6. He also worked on the Astra with General Motors’ Opel Division.

With his brilliant work on the design of the Chevrolet Volt, which was unveiled in 2007, Jelani Aliyu is considered by many to be the super star of the General Motors renaissance.

Multi-talent
Ibiwunmi Omotayo Olufunke OlaiyaLondon,United Kingdom
Industry: The Arts
Job Title: Fashion Designer, Singer, Dancer
Gender: Female

Ibiwunmi Omotayo Olufunke Olaiya who also goes by Wunmi is a Nigerian fashion designer, singer, and dancer. She was born to Nigerian parents in the United Kingdom, but spent most of her childhood years in Lagos, Nigeria. Her parents separated after her birth, and she was sent to live with cousins in Nigeria at the age of four. Growing up in Nigeria, she often felt very alone, and would later use her singing to overcome the pains of her past. It was in Nigeria that she picked up the influence of musician and composer, Fela Kuti’s “Afrobeat Revolution.”

Wunmi moved back to the United Kingdom at the age of fourteen and described the experience as a culture shock which challenged her cultural identity. She began to use clothing and dance to express herself, and she was noticed by Jazzie B from Soul II Soul and ended up appearing as a dancer in their 1989 music video, “Back to Life.”

Wunmi then danced with multiple collaborations in North America, Africa, and Europe before turning her attention to singing. Her career in singing began with the single, “What a See (A Guy Called Gerald Mix)” in 1998 and the 2006 album, A.L.A. which stands for Africans Living Abroad. In 2002, Wunmi worked with a collection of DJs and producers known as Bugz in the Attic on the non-profit Red Hot Organization’s tribute album to Fela Kuti. On this album, Red Hot and Riot, she featured in the track called Zombie (Part One), and all proceeds of the album went to AIDS charities.

Lawmaker, Educationist
John Abraham Godson OnyekwereLodz,Poland
Industry: Government / Politics
Job Title: Member of Parliament, Poland
Age: 43 years
Gender: Male
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John Abraham Godson was born as Godson Chikama Onyekwere to an Igbo family in Nigeria. In 1993, Godson immigrated to Poland and became a Polish citizen in 2001. John Abraham Godson first ran for Polish parliament in 2007, but was unsuccessful in that first attempt. He was elected to the Łódź City Council in 2008 and re-elected in 2010. Godson is a member of the Civic Platform party, president of the African Institute in Poland, and was elected as the first member of the Polish Parliament of African descent in 2010.

John Abraham Godson is an advocate for education and holds several degrees, himself. He attended Abia State University in Nigeria where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Agronomy in 1992. He also attended Trinity College and Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana where he received his Master’s degree in Human Resource Management and Development in 2003. He received another Master’s degree in international relations from Łódź Academy of International Studies in 2008.

Godson is also in the process of obtaining two Doctorate degrees. He is working towards his Doctorate in political science at the University of Warsaw and his Doctorate in management at the University of Łódź. At the same time, he is participating in the Master of Science in Professional Communication Program offered by Clark University and the Łódź Academy of Management.

John Abraham Godson is a well known lecturer at the Technical University of Szczecin where he was the senior lecturer from 1993 to 1997 and various other institutions around Poland and abroad where he has acted as a guest lecturer. Godson is also a former Pentecostal minister of God’s Church of Christ and is well known for his strong religious beliefs and morality.

Features and Entertainment Journalist
Lola OgunnaikeNew York,New York,United States
Industry: Media
Job Title: Journalist
Age: 38 years
Gender: Female

Lola Ogunnaike is a Nigerian born American journalist who was born in Nigeria, but raised in near Washington DC in America. Ogunnaike is very successful in her career which began in 1999 when she began working part time for BET. She received her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Virginia and her Master’s degree in Journalism from New York University. She was listed as one of 150 Most Influential Blacks in America by Ebony magazine in 2007.

Lola Ogunnaike has most recently worked for CNN as an entertainment correspondent on the program, American Morning. Before this, Ogunnaike worked as a culture reporter for the New York Times, a contributing writer for The Rolling Stones magazine and Vibe magazine, and as a reporter for the New York Daily News. Her work has also been published in Elle, USA Today, and Harper’s Bazaar. She was also featured in the Best Music Writing of 2010 anthology.

Lola Ogunnaike has also appeared on MTV, VH1, The View and NBC’s Today Show.  Ogunnaike writes about youth and African American culture, music, lifestyle and fashion, Hollywood, and profile articles about famous people including Kanye West, Oprah Winfery, Jennifer Lopez, Will Smith, and Ryan Seacrest. On television, Lola Ogunnaike has interviewed a variety of other famous people including Beyonce and James Lipton. For CNN, Ogunnaike has covered the Academy Awards, the Grammys and Sundance Film Festival, and the inauguration. Lola Ogunnaike is considered a leading authority on pop culture in the United States of America.

Soccer Change Agent
Oguchialu Chijoke OnyewuLisbon,Portugal
Industry: Entertainment / Sports
Job Title: Footballer
Age: 31 years
Gender: Male

Oguchialu Chijoke Onyewu, more commonly known as Oguchi Onyewu, is a professional soccer player in the United States of America. He is a defender on the United States national team and the Sporting Clube de Portugal. Oguchi speaks English and French and is also a Belgian citizen. At six feet and four inches, he is the tallest outfield player in the history of United States soccer.

Oguchi was born in 1982 to Nigerian-American immigrants in Washington D.C. He was raised in Silver Spring and Olney, Maryland and completed his primary and secondary education at St. Andrew Apostle School and Sherwood High School. He was also enrolled in the U.S. residency program in Bradenton, Florida before he graduated from Sherwood High School.

Oguchi Onyewu began playing soccer for Clemson University on The Clemson Tigers men’s soccer team after he graduated from high school. In 2002, he moved to Europe and signed with Metz of Ligue 2 in France. He played for La Louvière in Belgium in 2003 and for Standard Liège in 2004. His move to Standard Liège was made permanent until 2005 when he was named Foreign Player of the Year for 2005 and one of Belgian league’s Best XI. In 2006, Oguchi Onyewu was the first soccer player since 1995 to win the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year award.

In 2008, Onyewu was named Belgian league Best XI again and went on to lead the Standard Liège defense to win a Belgian league title, which was the second consecutive title, won by this team for the Belgian league. In 2009, he signed a three year contract with Milan, but suffered a knee injury which prevented him from playing until 2010. Because of this, his contract was extended by one year without pay, per his own request. He also signed another three year contract with Sporting Clube de Portugal in 2011.

Oguchi Onyewu has had to deal with a great deal of racism in his career in Europe. He has been attacked by racist fans for playing for Standard Liège, and was called a “dirty ape” by Jelle Van Damme of Royal Sporting Club Anderlecht during the 2008-2009 Championship playoffs. Onyewu decided to take a stand against racism in soccer by suing Van Damme in 2009.

Distinguished Honor in Peerage
Lord Victor Adebowale CBELondon,United Kingdom
Industry: Government / Politics
Job Title: Humanitarian, Social Services C.E.O
Age: 51 years
Gender: Male
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Lord Victor Adebowale was born as Victor Olufemi Adebowale in 1962 to Nigerian parents, Ezekiel & Grace Adebowale in Britain. In 2009, he became Baron Adebowale of Thornes in the County of West Yorkshire. He was listed by CBE in the New Year’s Honour List for his services to the New Deal, the unemployed and homeless young people in 2000, and he was named by the housing professional’s magazine, Inside Housing, as one of the 25 most influential people in housing policy over the past 25 years.

Lord Adebowale received his education from the Thornes House School in Wakefield and the Polytechnic of East London. He has a Post Graduate Diploma From the Tavistock institute and a Masters degree in Advanced Organizational Consulting from the City University London.  He has taken his passion and his education and use it to dedicate his life to improving the lives of individuals living in poverty and coping with mental disorders and substance abuse problems.

Adebowale was the Regional Director of Britain’s largest black-led housing association, Ujima Housing Association, the Director of the Alcohol Recovery Project, and Chief Executive of Centrepoint’s youth homelessness charity. He has also worked with the Patchwork Community Housing Association and Local Authority Estate Management.

In 2001, Lord Adebowale became the Chief Executive of Turning Point, which is a social care organization which provides services for individuals with complex needs including mental health problems, learning disabilities, and those with drug and alcohol abuse problems. Lord Victor Adebowale is also a Director of Leadership in Mind organizational development consultancy, a member of the Audit Commission, non-executive of the health IT consultancy at St Vincents, and he has advised governments on housing, poverty, employment and public service reform.

Lord Adebowale is also on the policy advisory board of the Social Market Foundation, and on the board of the National School of Government. He is Co-Chair of the Black and Minority Ethnic Mental Health National Steering Group, a member of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, patron of Rich Mix Centre Celebrating Cultural Diversity, member of the National Employment Panel, patron of Tomorrow’s Project and of the National College for School Leadership, and member of the New Economics Foundation Board and the Institute for Fiscal Studies Council.

Lord Adebowale holds an honorary Ph.D. from University of Central England in Birmingham, an honorary Ph.D. from the University of East London, and an honorary doctor of letters from the University of Lincoln. He is involved with the Centre for Inclusion and Diversity of the University of Bradford where he also holds an honorary doctorate, and is an Honorary Senior Fellow in the Health Services Management Centre at the University of Birmingham and honorary fellow of London South Bank University.

Cool as a Cucumber
Megalyn Ann EchikunwokeUnknown,California,United States
Industry: Entertainment / Sports
Job Title: Actress, Model
Age: 30 years
Gender: Female

Megalyn Ann Echikunwoke is a biracial actress and model in the United States of America. She is Nigerian on her father’s side and Caucasian – German and Scottish-Irish – on her mother’s side. She was born in Spokane, Washington in 1983.

Megalyn grew up on a Navajo Indian Reservation in Chinle, Arizona, but she is not of Navajo descent herself. She enjoys singing and plans to pursue a career in the music industry as well. She did all of her own singing in the 2008 independent film, Who Do You Love in which she starred as a lounge singer addicted to heroin. Megalyn’s hobbies include surfing, traveling, and dancing.

Megalyn Ann Echikunwoke did some nude modeling early on in her career and began her acting career in 1998 as the character, Elizabeth on the television movie, Creature. She also appeared as Allison Highwater the same year on an episode of The Steve Harvey Show. Echikunwoke is well known for her roles on the first season of 24 (as the president’s daughter, Nicole Palmer), and the seventh seasons of CSI: Miami (as the medical examiner, Dr. Tara Price) and That 70’s Show (as Kelso’s girlfriend, Angie Barnett). Her most recent television role was on 90210 where she appeared as the recurring character, Holly. She is currently working on the television series House of Lies, as the character, April.

Change Maker
Nnaemeka IkegwuonuOwerri,Imo,Nigeria
Industry: Humanitarian
Job Title: Social Entrepreneur
Age: 28 years
Gender: Male

At the age of 27, Nigerian born, Mr. Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu is one of five winners of the Maiden Rolex Awards for Enterprise in 2010. Mr. Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu was also presented with the WISE award by the Qatar Foundation and the WISE Awards International Jury in 2010. Ikegwuonu received these awards for his work on The Smallholders Farmers Rural Radio project which reaches out to poor farmers in remote communities in Iwo State, Nigeria to promote environmental conservation and sustainable agricultural development.

Mr. Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu is the Executive Director of the Smallholders Foundation and was invited to participate in the first Europe – Africa Young Leaders Forum in Cape Town, South Africa in March of 2011. This forum was composed of forty young business, academic, and political professionals from sub-Saharan Africa and Europe who came together to discuss the encouragement of social engagement.

Mr. Ikegwuonu was also invited by the World Bank Institute to present the “Climate Change on Air” project to academics from East African Universities at the Joja, Kenya African Institute for Capacity Development (AICAD) in February of 2011. He presented this same project in Lower Kabete, Nairobi Kenya at the Kenyan Institute for Administration.

Mr. Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu has dedicated his life to confronting hunger and extreme poverty by boosting agricultural production among small rural farmers throughout Nigeria. He is committed to improving the management of environmental resources and soil nutrients, and to promoting small farmers’ access to high quality seeds and cost efficient water technology.

An Exemplary Police Officer
Police Officer Monday AgbonikaLagos,Nigeria
Industry: Law Enforcement
Job Title: Police Officer
Age: 50 years
Gender: Male

In Nigeria, where many citizens tend to not be so enamored of the police force (readily accusing officers of corruption and incompetence), one officer has been acknowledged for his courage in taking a stand against any form of corruption. While it can be argued that the average Nigerian police officer is not well paid (at less than $200 per month) and does not have access to supplies and equipment necessary to do the best job he or she can, many also argue that a lot of the officers interpret this situation to mean that they should not be expected to uphold what most would perceive to be the integrity of the position. Judging by the corruption among the political and other elite class, many conclude that corruption in the police force should not be surprising.

However, Officer Monday Agbonika is an example of many police officers that have decided not to go along with a culture of low expectation of the police in Nigeria. Officer Agbonika has opted to not only uphold the integrity of his own position, but to take on the overwhelming task of attempting to change the system wherever he finds it wanting.

Sometimes, this has led to great danger to his person. Agbonika lost an eye after robbers whom he’d arrested were released and returned to exact their revenge upon him by beating him up. This did not deter Officer Agbonika from his ambition to do what is right and to fight the state of police affairs in Nigeria.

Officer Agbonika recently received recognition from the Wall Street Journal in the United States of America for his efforts. He took over one police station with a three square mile territory in 2007 and his first act was to begin enforcing a new system in which bribes would not be tolerated. At this time, 350 police officers requested to be transferred to other stations.

Undeterred by limited resources and cultural acceptance of the corrupt system, Officer Monday Agbonika and a few supporters have given their all to make a difference in their community. Their efforts have not been without results. In an area where robberies were once a daily occurrence and bribes were the regular course of business, things have vastly improved, violent crimes have decreased, and the community is much safer. There are still many obstacles, and a lot of his subordinates require constant supervision. But Officer Monday Agbonika is not swayed from his ideals and continues to fight crime within his police force and the community.

Promising Cancer Discovery
Pamela OvadjeWindsor,Ontario,Canada
Industry: Science & Tech.
Job Title: PhD Candidate
Age: 27 years
Gender: Female
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Pamela Ovadje is a Nigerian Doctorate student at the University of Windsor in Canada. She is one of six individuals recently published in the 2011 Journal of Ethnopharmacology for their recent discovery of the cancer-killing properties of Dandelion weeds. This discovery holds tremendous potential for the treatment of certain cancers including leukemia, melanoma, pancreatic, and colon cancers. For this research, Pamela Ovadje and her colleagues won awards from the Third Annual Cancer Drug Discovery Symposium in Sudbury.

At the age of 25, Pamela Ovadje has received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Biotechnology in 2009 and is currently working towards her Ph.D. In many ways, Pamela Ovadje is following in the footsteps of her father, Dr. Oviemo Ovadje, a retired Brigadier General and inventor who won several awards for his invention, the Eat-Set machine which is used to harvest the blood of patients for auto-reinfusion and eliminates the risk of contamination and external infections.

The discovery of the cancer cell killing properties of dandelions made by Pamela Ovadje and her colleagues is a scientific and medical breakthrough. The dandelion extract causes the cancer cells to basically kill themselves while leaving other cells healthy and intact. Although they say that there is still a long way to go to applying this discovery practically, they are making great strides in their research, and believe that this may dramatically change the course of treatment in certain cancer patients. This research is considered a “stepping stone” towards improved treatment options which will be less traumatic than chemotherapy.

Anti-Corruption Advocate
Ishola WilliamsLagos,Nigeria
Industry: Humanitarian
Job Title: Rtd. Major General
Age: 60 years
Gender: Male

Ishola Williams is a retired Major General from the Nigerian military and an advocate for African democratization and development. He holds diplomas in telecommunications, war studies, human services studies, and nuclear studies from institutions in the United Kingdom, France, and India. Throughout his military career, Ishola Williams was consistently promoted until he resigned in 1993 from his position at the Defense Headquarters as the Chief of Defense Operations, Planning and Training.

Ishola Williams presents papers and participates in conferences and seminars around the world. He promotes investing in science and technology education and research to increase economic growth. He also promotes the enhancement of human resources and quality education. Williams is dedicated to confronting corruption and economic injustice and works towards improving leadership and followership in Nigeria. Ishola Williams is committed to reforming the Nigerian military and economy to focus more on internal problems than external threats which he believes are minimal but receive more funding.

Williams is currently working to address conflicts in Africa with the African Strategic and Peace Research Group (AFSTRAG) as their Executive Secretary, and he is monitoring the implementation of sanctions against Iran as the only African on a panel of experts set up by the United Nations for this task. Ishola Williams also works with the Nigerian Chapter of Transparency International as the Chairman, and is the president of the African Baseball and Softball Association. Williams is also one of three mediators currently participating in Accra at the Liberian Peace talks.

Teen Prodigy Headed to Harvard
Saheela IbraheemPiscataway,New Jersey,United States
Industry: Education
Job Title: Student
Age: 16 years
Gender: Female
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Saheela Ibraheem is the 15-year-old daughter of Nigerian born American immigrants living in Edison, New Jersey. Saheela Ibraheem is special because of her unique intelligence and athletic abilities, and the fact that at the age of 15, she has been accepted into 13 colleges including six Ivy League universities. Saheela fell in love with the campus at Harvard University and has decided that this is the college she will attend.

Ibraheem skipped the sixth and the ninth grades, and in high school, she switched from public schooling to the more challenging private school, Wardlaw-Hartridge School, which is proud to have her. Her teachers describe her as an “old soul” and “mature for her age”. Saheela received a perfect score on the mathematics section of the SAT. She plays the trombone, sang in her high school choir, and is also involved in soccer, swimming, and softball. In addition, she served as president of the school’s investment club and speaks Arabic, Spanish, and Latin.

At the age of five, Saheela Ibraheem was unwilling to accept help with her homework and decided that she most enjoyed learning mathematics and science. It was at this time that her parents, Safara and Shakirat Ibraheem realized that she had a particular passion and competence for learning and excelling in school. She plans to study neuroscience and neurobiology at Harvard University and to become a researcher in her field.

Saheela’s father, Safara Ibraheem is a financial analyst and vice president at a major financial group in New York. He received his degree from the prestigious Nigerian University of Ibadan. Saheela credits the support and guidance of her family with her academic success. She claims that she is nothing special and is quoted as saying that “anyone who is motivated can work wonders.”

Award Winning Novelist
Sefi AttaMeridian,Mississippi,United States
Industry: The Arts
Job Title: Writer
Age: 49 years
Gender: Female

Sefi Atta is the award winning author of the highly reviewed novel, Everything Good Will Come which is about two young girls living in Nigeria under military rule in the 1970’s. This was her debut novel which won her the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa. Her other works include a variety of short stories which have been published in The Los Angeles Review, The Mississippi Review, and other journals. These have won prizes from the BBC, Red Hen Press, Zoetrope, and PEN International. She also won the Soyinka Prize and the David TK Wong Prize.

Sefi Atta was herself born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. She was born in 1964 to Okene and Yoruba Atta. Her father was a traditional ruler, and her grandfather was the Atta of the Igbirra people. Sefi Atta was educated in both Nigeria and London where she trained as an accountant. She went to Queen’s College from 1974 to 1978 when she began attending a boarding school in England called Millfield. Sefi received her business degree in 1985 from Birmingham University and trained as an accountant from 1988 to 1991 in London. Atta was working in accounting in New York when she began her career as a writer in 1994. She was taking creative writing courses at New York University and her writing was inspired by her own life in Nigeria as well as her experiences overseas.

Although her works are not autobiographical, Sefi Atta takes inspiration from her experiences and the history of her family as well as the family of her husband, Dr. Gboyega Ransome-Kuti whose family is rebel royalty in Nigeria. Atta’s first and most famous novel, Everything Good Will Come was considered very controversial in Nigeria because the protagonist leaves her husband which is considered very immoral in Nigerian culture. Atta says that the book does not have an intentional moral undertone. The book gets its name from the Yoruba expression, “a daa,” which means “it will be good.”

A cross-Atlantic Success
Sophie Okonedo OBELondon,United Kingdom
Industry: Entertainment / Sports
Job Title: Actress
Age: 45 years
Gender: Female

Sophie Okonedo is a biracial actress born in London in 1968 to a Nigerian father and an Ashkenazi Jewish mother. Sophie was raised by her single mother after her father left the home when she was five years old. Although she was raised in a low income single parent home, her mother, a Pilates teacher, always made sure that she had access to books and valued education.

Sophie Okonedo received her acting education from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and has worked in theatre, audio drama, television, and film. She has performed in many different projects including Dirty Pretty Things in 2003, Hotel Rwanda in 2005, and Tsunami: The Aftermath in 2007. She worked with Alicia Keys, Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, and Jennifer Hudson in the 2008 film, The Secret Life of Bees, in which she played the role of a woman struggling with depression, May Boatwright. She also played in the 2009 film, Skin, and the 2010 BBC broadcast, Mrs. Mandela.

Okonedo, who was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2010, has won three awards and been nominated for several more. She won the 2005 Black Reel Award for the Best Actress in a Drama for her performance in Hotel Rwanda. She won the 2008 Hollywood Film Festival Award for the Ensemble Acting of the Year for her performance in The Secret Life of Bees. She also won the 2007 Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie/Mini-Series for her performance in Tsunami: The Aftermath. Sophie Okonedo’s most recent and current role is as Aisha in the 2011 television series, The Slap.

Light Gone Too Soon
Tayo SituLondon,United Kingdom
Industry: Government / Politics
Job Title: Late Mayor of Southwark
Age: 59 years
Gender: Male

Tayo Situ was the first African mayor of Southwark, a district of Central London. Situ was born and raised in Nigeria. He received his education in economics at the Polytechnic in Ibadan, Nigeria. He moved to United Kingdom in 1985, studied accountancy at Guildhall and South Bank Universities, and started his own business in the U.K.

Situ was elected as a Peckham councillor in 2002, was re-elected twice, and was elected as the mayor of Southwark in 2010. He contributed to and volunteered with many organizations, and refused to accept special treatment for his position. He believed in correcting injustice and had a great deal of respect for diversity and varying religious faiths.

Tayo Situ lost his battle with cancer and died at the age of 57 in May of 2011. He is described as a warm, caring, and wise man, a respected community leader, a political mentor, and a lead spokesperson on equality issues. His funeral was packed with mourners who regret that he was taken too soon.

Tayo Situ dedicated his life to serving his community and serving as a role model and representative of Nigerians in London. He worked to improve the lives of Nigerians in the United Kingdom and of all citizens in Southwark. Situ was considered to be a rare politician with a social conscience, driven to promote democracy and good governance. Tayo Situ will never be forgotten in Southwark or among Nigerians throughout the UK for his positive contributions during his nine years as a Peckham councillor and his brief time as Southwark’s first mayor of African descent.

Persecuted For Honesty
Victor IgweMiami,Florida,United States
Industry: Government / Politics
Job Title: Auditor General, City of Miami
Age: 62 years
Gender: Male

Victor Igwe was born in Nigeria, raised in London, and lived and worked in Miami, Florida as the Auditor General for twelve years before he was let go for doing what was right. Proclaimed by many as the “conscience of City Hall,” Victor Igwe was considered to be a “thorn in the side” of officials because he held them accountable for their misdeeds despite the risks to his own career and reputation.

For twelve years, Igwe worked for the City of Miami, renewing his contract every four years. When the accountant first accepted his position as the Auditor General of the City of Miami, he had no idea that he would be walking into such a politically corrupt system. Within his first year on the job, seventeen audits were issued, and Igwe began to uncover the corruption and report the truth.

Victor Igwe embarrassed the City of Miami by uncovering unethical practices which led to a federal investigation of the Bayfront Park Trust’s executive director who was paying himself in cash and funding lobbyists. Igwe helped to investigate Commissioner Arthur Teele who was misusing funds and who ended up committing suicide during the investigation before he could be held accountable for his misdeeds. Igwe confronted the City of Miami’s corrupt housing agency, uncovered the illegal shuffling of money to cover financial gaps, and discovered that millions of dollars were being illegally shifted from construction and maintenance funds to cover gaps in the city’s budget.

The list goes on. In 2009, Igwe found that over nine million dollars of gas taxes and over twenty million dollars intended for sewer upgrades were also being misused to cover holes in the city’s budget. In 2010, Igwe reported horrendous misuse of credit cards and thousands of dollars which had been double-billed to tax payers who were over-charged for parking and tolls.

The City of Miami council, with a new mayor, embarrassed by the repeated revelation of the many crimes being committed by city officials, decided not renew Igwe’s contract in April of 2011. They claim to be seeking a “fresh pair of eyes”. Apparently the eyesight of the 59 year old Victor Igwe is a little too good for corruption to thrive. Igwe was quoted as saying, “I just hope that God saves the taxpayers without me in that office.”

MIT's Top Innovator Winner
Adeyemi AdesokanCambridge,Massachusetts,United States
Industry: Science & Tech.
Job Title: Entrepreneurial Scientist
Age: 35 years
Gender: Male

Yemi Adesokan is a Nigerian born scientist in the United States who won MIT’s World Top Young Innovators Award in 2011 at the age of 35. This award is given by MIT’s Technology Review Magazine to individuals whose contributions are expected to have a dramatic impact on the lives of people around the world. The founder and CEO of Pathogenica Inc., Adesokan was one of 300 nominees considered for this prestigious award. He was recognized and awarded for an inexpensive innovation, the development of a faster DNA sequencing technology, which dramatically lowered the cost and improved the accuracy of DNA sequencing and vastly improved routine clinical diagnostics.

Adesokan’s work has made it possible to reduce the cost of effectively screening for pathogens in the water, livestock, and food production in Nigeria where even sterilized water is known to contain pathogens. His innovation has also reduced the rate of inaccurate medical diagnoses due to false positives and reduced the number of deaths caused by inaccurately diagnosed infectious diseases.  This new technology is being used to quickly and accurately diagnose diseases like tuberculosis and human papillomavirus, a common cause of cancers like cervical cancer.

Adesokan received his Bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Houston and his Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry from the University of California in Irvine. He completed his post-doctorate work at Harvard Medical School, where he developed and implemented the Bioweather Map Project which is used to collect information to track and limit viral outbreaks and antibiotic resistance in developing nations around the world.

Talent that Glows
Yinka Shonibare MBELondon,United Kingdom
Industry: The Arts
Job Title: Artist
Age: 51 years
Gender: Male

Yinka Shonibare is a Nigerian conceptual artist who was born in London in 1962, but moved back to Lagos, Nigeria with his parents at the age of three. He was brought up in both Nigeria and the United Kingdom. The son of a lawyer and brother to a dentist, a banker, and a surgeon, Shonibare received his education from exclusive boarding schools, the Byam Shaw School of Art in London, and Goldsmith’s College where he graduated with a Master’s degree as one of the “Young British Artists Generation”. Shonibare’s family, who consider success to be extremely important, was unimpressed by his decision to become an artist. However, he followed his dreams and became a great success in his chosen field. At the age of 19, Yinka Shonibare was left paralyzed by a virus and remains partially disabled.

Shonibare’s artistic works consist of paintings, photographs, videos, and installations. He is inspired by his cultural identities, ethnicity, history, the economy, and his own personal struggles in life with disability and nonconformity. Yinka Shonibare began exhibiting his artwork internationally at various well known museums in the 1990’s and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2004 when he was also recognized and awarded the decoration of Member of the “Most Excellent Order of the British Empire”. His work has been displayed at the Venice Biennial, the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution, and the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.

Yinka Shonibare describes himself as a ‘post-colonial’ hybrid as he examines and explores the contemporary context of globalization, race and class, the construction of identity, and the relationship between Europe and Africa. Shonibare currently lives in the East End of London where he continues to pursue his passion for art.

Owner of Gatwick Airport
Adebayo OgunlesiNew York,New York,United States
Industry: Business
Job Title: Businessman
Age: 60 years
Gender: Male

Want to know who led the acquisition of London’s Gatwick Airport in a £1.455 billion deal? You’d be looking at Adebayo Ogunlesi, a Nigerian born businessman, who is Chairman, and Managing Partner of Global Infrastructure Partners: a multibillion-dollar venture formed by General Electric and Credit Suisse. Ogunlesi was born in 1953 to Professor and Mrs. T.O. Ogunlesi of Makun in Sagamu Ogun State, Nigeria. Professor T.O. Ogunlesi was the first Nigerian professor of medicine, and Adebayo Ogunlesi attended King’s University in Lagos, Nigeria before moving on to receive his Bachelor’s degree in politics, economics, and philosophy with first class honors from Oxford University. He then went on to graduate from Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School in 1979.

Adebayo Ogunlesi taught transnational investment projects in emerging countries and lectured at Yale School of Organization and Management and Harvard Law School. He also worked as an attorney for the law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York. In the early 1980’s, Ogunlesi worked for Thurgood Marshal, the Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, as a law clerk.

Ogunlesi began his career as an investment banker with Global Infrastructure Partners as Head of Global Power, Utilities, and Project Finance in 1994. In this position, he was the man in charge of Global Investment Banking at Credit Suisse First Boston. From 1997 to 2002, he was the Head of the Global Energy Group. He was then promoted to Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Client Officer, holding senior responsibility for Credit Suisse’s corporate and sovereign investment banking clients. Bayo entered into his current position as Chairman and Managing Partner of Global Infrastructure Partners when the six former senior executives of General Electric and Credit Suisse (including himself) came together to form this large venture which works to improve infrastructure through the application of industry best practice and investment.

Musician, Producer
Alban U NwapaStockholm,Sweden
Industry: Entertainment / Sports
Job Title: Musician
Age: 56 years
Gender: Male

Alban Nwapa is a Nigerian born Swedish musician. He goes by the stage name, Dr. Alban, and is also a music producer with his own record label called Dr-Records. Nwapa is one of ten children born and raised in a middle class family in Oguta, Imo State, Nigeria. Born in 1957, he received his education from Christ the King College in Aba, Nigeria, and traveled to Sweden to study dentistry at the age of 23.

Nwapa began his musical career as a disc jockey in an effort to pay for his education. He worked at a club called Alphabet Street in Stockholm, Sweden, where he quickly became a famous local musician, singing along to the records he played and gathering the attention of DJ René who is credited with the discovery of Dr. Alban’s musical talent.  He took on the stage name of Dr. Alban as a reference to his studies in dentistry.

Dr. Alban released his first record, Hello Africa with Denniz Pop and Rap-Queen Leila K in 1990. For this very successful album, Nwapa earned several Gold-certification Awards from various markets including Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. In 1991, he released his second album, One Love with the hit single “It’s My Life” which would become his most well known contribution to music. “It’s My Life” reached the number one spot on the charts in Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, and Sweden. It reached number two on the charts in the United Kingdom, Norway, and Switzerland.

Dr. Alban continued to produce popular music on the albums Look Who’s Talking in 1994, Born in Africa in 1996 – which he produced himself with his new record label, Dr-Records, and in 1997, he released the compilation album, The Very Best of 1990-1997. After this, his success began to wane as he released the single, “What do I do?” which only reached number 43 on the Swedish charts for two weeks in 2000, then the album, Prescription, which did not make it on the charts. Dr. Alban took a break from music after this, but returned in 2007 with the album. Back to Basics which was sold on the internet only, and did not make it to the charts. Although his success has waned over the past two decades, his career is far from over and his musical talent is likely to result in more success in the future.

Singer-songwriter with a special touch

Asa Bukola Elemide

Paris,France
Industry: Entertainment / Sports
Job Title: Musician
Age: 31 years
Gender: Female

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Asa is the stage name of Bukola Elemide, a soul and jazz singer and songwriter from Paris, France and Lagos, Nigeria. She was born in 1982 to Nigerian parents living in Paris. At the age of two, she moved back to Nigeria with her family and did not return to Paris until she was 22.  At the age of twelve, she began attending Corona, one of the best schools in Nigeria. Here, she studied for five years before returning home with dreams of becoming a singer and songwriter like her heroes, who included Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, and Raphael Saadiq.

Unfortunately, as with many dreamers before her, her dreams were not easy to realize. Elemide dealt with a great deal of frustration in her life, looking after her siblings in her parent’s absence and being snubbed by choirs because of her unusually low-pitched and deep singing voice. She dealt with this frustration by locking herself in a room to sing which brought her great comfort. She competed in radio talent shows and secretly attended Peter King’s School of Music where she learned to play the guitar within six months. Preferring singing to talking, Elemide would frequently improvise songs until her mother would ask her to stop.

Asa began her music career in Nigeria where she sang in English and Yoruba. Her first singles released in Nigeria were “Eyé Adaba” and “Jailer”. After moving back to France, her career took flight, and MTV named her as the ambassador for South Africa. Asa became a popular opening act for artists like Beyonce, John Legend, Snoop Dog, and Akon. She produced her first album, Asha, in 2007, and her second album, Beautiful Imperfection, in 2010.

Humanitarian, activist, lawyer and entertainment consultant rolled into one
Audu MaikoriKaduna,Nigeria
Industry: Entertainment / Sports
Job Title: Entertainment Consultant, Lawyer, Activist
Age: 38 years
Gender: Male

Audu Maikori is a lawyer and the CEO of the Chocolate City Entertainment Company, a record company and music label founded by Maikori in 2005. This company won an award at the British Council’s Global IYMEY Awards in 2007 and an award for Best Label at the AA Awards in 2008. In Nigeria, Maikori is well known for his appearance as a judge on the Pop Idol television series.

Maikori was born in 1975 in Kaduna, Nigeria, and was raised in Lagos. He was the third of five children born to a Christian family. His father was a well-known lawyer and politician, and his mother was a member of the Kwoi royal family. He received his education from Adrao International School and King’s College. He received his law degree from the University of Jos before moving to Abuja to attend a Nigerian Law school and work with the National Youth Service Corps.

Audu Maikori has not only succeeded in his career, but has also worked to make a difference in the lives of everyday people in Nigeria. He is known for his work with developing the youth and was invited to deliver a speech at an Albania Ministry of Youth and Employment seminar in 2008. He worked with the movement, “Enough is Enough” in 2010 protesting against the Nigerian government which fails to meet the basic needs of its citizens. He was considered to be the “face of the movement” when he was ordered to back down by a police officer threatening to shoot him. He reportedly refused to back down and dared the officer to shoot him.

Maikori has received awards and recognition for his work including the 2007 International Young Music Entrepreneur of the Year and the Enterprise Foundation’s Mentor of the Year Award in 2010. In 2011, he received the Nigerian Entertainment Award’s Entertainment Executive of the Year, the National Youth Merit Award’s Outstanding Award in Music and Entertainment, the Diaspora Professionals Award for Young Entrepreneur of the Year, the CIAN award for Creative Entrepreneur of the Year, and the African Awards for Entrepreneurship.

Anchor, Reporter
Bisi Onile EreDetroit Metro Area,Michigan,United States
Industry: Media
Job Title: Journalist
Age: 34 years
Gender: Female

Bisi Onile-Ere is a general assignment reporter for the NBC-affiliated television station, WDIV-TV, Channel 4, which is based in Detroit, Michigan. Onile-Ere is an American of Nigerian descent who was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She received her degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism, and began her career from home while still in school.

Early in her career, Bisi Onile-Ere became an intern with CBS’s WCCO-TV and worked her way up to a position as a production assistant. After completing her education at the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism, Bisi Onile-Ere moved to northern Minnesota to work for CBS’s KDLH-TV as a morning anchor and reporter.

Bisi Onile-Ere moved to Flint, Michigan to work for ABC’s WJRT-TV and helped to launch ABC’s First at Four program, on which she worked as co-anchor and nightside reporter. She was not unfamiliar with the state, having frequently  visited the area where her mother grew up in Jackson, Michigan throughout her childhood. During her time in Flint, Michigan, Onile-Ere won two Emmy Awards and an Associated Press Award.  In 2008, Bisi Onile-Ere said goodbye to ABC’s First at Four, and moved to Detroit, Michigan to work as a general assignment reporter for NBC’s WDIV-TV, Channel 4 along with Bora Kim, Shawn Ley, Roger Weber, and Hank Winchester.

Bisi Onile-Ere enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. She is very family oriented and enjoys watching her twin brothers play college football, and celebrating holidays with relatives.

Heavy weight fighter
Bobby OlogunSaitama,Japan
Industry: Entertainment / Sports
Job Title: Mixed Martial Arts, Kickboxing
Age: 40 years
Gender: Male

Bobby Ologun was born in Ibadan, Nigeria as Alaji Karim Ologun. He is a mixed martial artist and television personality in Japan who speaks English, Yoruba, and Japanese. His current legal name is Bobby Konda because he married a Japanese woman named Kyoko Konda, and took on her surname when he became a naturalized citizen of Japan in 2007. However, he still goes by Bobby Ologun in his career.

Ologun was born to an extremely large family and has a grand total of thirty siblings. He attended a Nigerian university and moved to Japan to work for his father in a café in Daikanyama, Shibuya after graduating. He first appeared as a television personality and interviewee in 2001 on the Tokyo Broadcasting System television show, Sanma’s Super Karakuri-TV. By the end of 2001, he was a regular performer as a student on Karakuri-TV series, The Funniest Language School. He became an over-night success for his feigned inability to understand the Japanese language and customs on television.

Bobby Ologun began working in mixed martial arts in 2003 when he attempted Judo on Karakuri-TV. In 2004, he tried sparring and began working on Jiu-Jitsu. His training led to a surprising win at the end of 2004 when he fought against French kick-boxer, Cyril Abidi at the Osaka Dome for a program called K-1 Dynamite!! He was called the “World’s Most Dangerous New Comer” in this performance. Ologun went on to win more fights, and to create controversy over his temper and occasional bending and breaking of the rules. Ologun has also appeared as the new boss character, later named as Bobby Strong, in the re-release of Shin Goketsuji Ichizoku ~ Matrimelee, and in 2005, had a cameo appearance with Japanese actor and comedian, Toshiyuki Nishida, in the long-running comedic movie series, Tsuribaka Nisshi 16.

Golden Globe Nominee, Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor
Chiwetel Ejiofor OBELondon,United Kingdom
Industry: Entertainment / Sports
Job Title: Actor
Age: 36 years
Gender: Male

Chiwetel Ejiofor is a British actor of Igbo Nigerian descent. Ejiofor has received three Golden Globe nominations, the 2006 BAFTA  Rising Star Award, and the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in 2008 for his role in Othello. Ejiofor was born in 1977 in London’s Forest Gate. Both of his parents are Nigerian. His mother is a pharmacist and his father was a doctor who died in a car accident which Ejiofor survived at the age of eleven despite being badly injured and incurring the well-known scars on his forehead.

Undeterred by this tragedy, Chiwetel Ejiofor began pursuing his passion for the dramatic arts by acting in Dulwich College school plays at the age of thirteen when he joined the National Youth Theatre. He played the role of Othello in 1995 and 1996 staring opposite Rachael Stirling, as Desdemona. Ejiofor also began his career in film in 1996 with the role of Ebow in the television movie, Deadly Voyage. In 1997, he played Ens. James Covey in the film, Amistad, and played the role of Malcolm, in Shakespeare play, Macbeth.

In 1999, Ejiofor played the role of Rix in the film, G:MT: Greenwich Mean Time and performed on stage as a character in Phillip Ridley’s Sparkleshark. In 2000, he played the role of Chris in Joe Penhall’s Blue/Orange play for which he won the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards’ Jack Tinker Award for the Most Promising Newcomer, the London Evening Standard Theatre Award Outstanding Newcomer, and a nomination for the 2001 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actor. That same year, he played the role of a young peer in Henrik Ibsen’s play, Peer Gynt and the role of Romeo in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet for which he was nominated for an Ian Charleson Award.

In 2002, Ejiofor played the role of Nicky Lancaster in Noël Coward’s production of The Vortex. He also played the role of Okwe in the 2002 movie, Dirty Pretty Things, for which he won the American Black Film Festival Award for Best Performance by an Actor, the Black Reel Award for Best Actor, the British Independent Film Award for Best Actor, the Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor, and the San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor. In 2007, he won the Independent Spirit and African-American Film Critics Association Awards for Best Supporting Male Actor for his performance as Dewey Hughes in the film, Talk to Me. In all, Chiwetel Ejiofor has been in 26 films and television series and eight plays for which he has received multiple awards and nominations.

Shadow Business Secretary, Lawyer, Labour Advocate
Chuka UmunnaLondon,United Kingdom
Industry: Government / Politics
Job Title: Member of Parliament
Age: 35 years
Gender: Male

Chuka Harrison Umunna is a biracial employment lawyer and British Labour Party politician. His father is a Nigerian from Awka, Anambra State, and his mother is Irish. Umunna was born in 1978 and raised in London where he received his primary education from Hitherfield Primary School and Christ Church C of E Primary School in Streatham. He then attended St. Dunstan’s College in Catford before going on to receive his degrees in English and French Law from the University of Manchester. Umunna also studied at the University of Burgundy in Dijon in France, and the Nottingham Law School in Nottingham.

After completing his education, Chuka Umunna began his law career as a solicitor for the law firm, Herbert Smith in 2002. In 2006, he moved to the law firm, Rochman Landau. It was at this time that he began become involved in the Labour Party, and to write and speak to the media about politics, economics, employment, and social issues. The Independent on Sunday named him as one of ten Young, Gifted and Black People in British politics in 2007, and in 2008, he was referred to as a “British Obama” in an edition of the New Statesman. In 2010, he replaced Keith Hill as a member of Parliament for the Labour Party.

In his maiden speech on taking office in Parliament, Umunna confronted the need for new school building projects and improved financial regulation in the banking sector. In 2011, Umunna replaced John Denham as Shadow Business Secretary of the Shadow Cabinet. Chuka Umunna is not the only successful member of his family, but is the grandson of High Court Judge, Sir Helenus Milmo, QC , and nephew of libel lawyer, Patrick Milmo.

Accomplished stage actor
Clifford SamuelLondon,United Kingdom
Industry: The Arts
Job Title: Actor
Gender: Male

In 2008, Natasha Tripney who described him as thoughtful, charming, passionate, and easy to talk to, interviewed Clifford Samuel, a British-Nigerian actor who graduated early from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London. He began his acting career at the Anna Scher Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon as characters in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s productions of Julius Caesar and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. In 2005, he played the part of Octavius Caesar at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, in London. In 2006, he went on tour with a role as Tomazo in the Cheek by Jowl Theatre Company’s production of the classic play, The Changeling, which was awarded as the 2006 Best Foreign Play at the El Mundo and El Pais Awards in Spain.

In 2007, Clifford Samuel played the role Tony Anderson, a young musician with a disapproving father, in the Arcola theatre production of Chasing the Moment which won an award for Best Play Timeout Critics Choice. That same year, he played Tyrone Brooks in the television drama, The Bill that won the 2007 Screen Nations Award for Best Diversity in Drama Production and the Royal Television Society Award for Best Continuing Drama.

He also played Elijah in the 2007 film, Shoot on Sight, which was directed by Jag Mundhra. In 2008, Clifford Samuel played the role of Adrian Mackenzie, the illegitimate son of Don Warrington, in the National Theatre’s production of Statement of Regret, and in 2010, he played the role of a 1970’s drummer named Charly Charles in the film, Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll about Ian Dury and the Blockheads.

Rapper, recording artist, MC, producer
Joseph Skepta AdenugaLondon,United Kingdom
Industry: Entertainment / Sports
Job Title: Musician
Age: 31 years
Gender: Male

Joseph (Skepta) Adenuga is an English-Nigerian grime rapper, producer, and record label owner who was born in 1982 as Joseph Junior Adenuga in Tottenham, North London. Skepta was inspired by hip hop from both the United States and the United Kingdom, and he began his career by performing at MC battles.

He released his first single, “Rolex Sweep” in 2008. He then went on to release seven more singles including “Sunglasses at Night” in 2009, “Bad Boy,” “Rescue Me,” and “Cross My Heart” in 2010, “So Alive,” and “Amnesia” in 2011, and “Hold On” in 2012.

In addition to these singles, Joseph (Skepta) Adenuga has released two mix tapes and four albums. His two mix tapes are titled “Been There, Done That” from 2010 and “Community Payback” in 2011. His four albums include “Greatest Hits” in 2007, “Microphone Champion” in 2009, “Doin’ it Again” in 2011, and “The Honeymoon” in 2012.

Joseph (Skepta) Adenuga’s most successful single was “Rescue Me” which reached number 14 on the United Kingdom’s Singles Chart. His most successful album was “Doin’ it Again” which remained in the United Kingdom’s Top 100’s Album Chart for three consecutive weeks. In 2005, he started his own record label called Boy Better Know with  his brother, J.M.E., and Wiley, two fellow successful grime rappers and producers. In 2006, he joined with the East London collective, Roll Deep, and he was personally selected by Sean (P. Diddy) Combs to record a grime remix of “Hello Good Morning.”

Oil Mogul
Kase LawalHouston,Texas,United States
Industry: Business
Job Title: Businessman
Age: 59 years
Gender: Male

CNN’s Susana Palk called Kase Lawal the “epitome of the American dream.” Lawal is an oil baron and entrepreneur who is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of a multibillion dollar company in Houston, Texas called CAMAC Energy (CAMAC for Cameroon-American). When Lawal founded CAMAC International Corporation in 1986, it was a small agricultural trading company dealing in rice, sugar, and tobacco. In 1991, he joined with Conoco, a major oil company, and this partnership lead to his great success.

The Black Enterprise 100s list named CAMAC as the largest African-American owned company in 2002, and Kase Lawal was himself awarded the 1997 USAfrica Business Person of the Year award. Lawal resigned from his positions in the CAMAC International Corporation in order to focus on his position as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CAMAC Energy.

Lawal was born in 1954 in Ibadan which is the capital city of the third largest metropolitan area in Nigeria, Oyo State. As a teenager, he became interested in the Civil Rights Movement in America and convinced his father to send him to an American University. Lawal attended Texas Southern University where he received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry before going on to receive his master’s degree in finance and marketing from Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas. He later received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Texas Southern University and another honorary doctorate in philosophy from Fort Valley State University in Georgia.

Kase Lawal is not just a corporate executive of a large company, but has also dedicated his life to public service. He is a member of the National Urban League’s Board of Directors, a member of the Fisk University Board of Trustees, and a majority shareholder and member of the board of directors in the only federally licensed and insured African-American owned bank in Texas, the Unity National Bank.

Singer, guitarist
Kele OkerekeLondon,United Kingdom
Industry: Entertainment / Sports
Job Title: Musician
Age: 32 years
Gender: Male

Kele Okereke is a very shy and unconventional British lead singer and guitarist for the band, Bloc Party. Okereke was born in 1981 in Liverpool to two Igbo Nigerian parents. His father was a molecular biologist, and his mother was a midwife. He received his high school education from Ilford County High School and Trinity Catholic High School in Woodford Green before going on to attend Kings College in London.

Okereke met his future band mate, Russell Lissack, while growing up in Bethnal Green. They originally formed the band in 1999 with the name, The Angel Range. The band name was changed twice in 2003, first to Union, then to Bloc Party. Kele Okereke and his band mates released Bloc Party’s first album, Silent Alarm in 2005, and found success as the album reached number three on the United Kingdom charts. They found even more success when their second album, A Weekend in the City reached the number two spot on the UK charts in 2007. Kele Okereke has also worked independently releasing his first solo album, The Boxer, in 2010.

In his musical career, Okereke has worked with Russell Lissack, Gordon Moakes, and Matt Tong in Bloc Party; and has also worked on various solo projects and collaborative projects with The Chemical Brothers, Tommy Sparks, Martin Solveig, Tiësto, Hercules and Love Affair, and Lucy Taylor.

Creativity in genres
Labi SiffreLondon,United Kingdom
Industry: The Arts
Job Title: Musician, Poet
Age: 68 years
Gender: Male

Labi Siffre is biracial British-Nigerian poet, musician, jazz singer, and songwriter known for his high pitched voice and deep lyrics. Siffre was the fourth of five children born in Hammersmith, London in 1945 to a Belgian mother and a Nigerian father. Raised in Bayswater and Hampstead, Siffre received his primary education from St Benedict’s School, in Ealing, west London.

While attempting to become a successful full time musician Labi Siffre worked as a warehouseman, a filing clerk, a cab driver, and a delivery man. In the early 1960’s he started playing guitar as part of a trio with organist Bob Stuckey and drummer, Woody Martin. However, for most of his music career, he worked solo.

In 1969, he signed with Management Agency & Music Ltd. and Festival Records. His first single was “Pretty Little Girl (Make My Day)/Too Late” which received a lot of radio play but never made it to the charts. Siffre released six albums between 1970 and 1975 and four more between 1988 and 1998. His first hit in the 1970’s was “It Must Be Love” which reached number 14 on the charts in 1971. The song, “Crying Laughing Loving Lying” reached number 11 and “Watch Me” reached number 29 in 1972. These songs were hits in the United Kingdom but didn’t make the charts in the United States.

Throughout the 1970’s Labi Siffre worked with Daliah Lavi, Ike & Tina Turner, Chicago, The Carpenters, the Hollies, and the Supremes. In 1977, he moved to the United States, where he settled in Los Angeles, California and began to write with Tom Shapiro but moved back to the United Kingdom in 1978 following the success of his songs, “Solid Love” which he wrote and performed and “We Got it Bad” which was co-written and performed by Bob James.

Siffre has also published three poems, one play, and one essay. His three poems are “Nigger,” from 1993, “Blood on the Page,” from 1995, and “Monument” from 1997. His play is titled “DeathWrite” from 1997, and his essay is titled, “Choosing the Stick they Beat You With” from 2000. Labi Siffre has made significant contributions to the world of music, and his rhythms have been used by multiple artists for different songs including Eminem’s “My Name Is” and Olivia Newton John covered “Crying Laughing Loving Lying” in 1975.

Multi award winning artist
Lemar ObikaLondon,United Kingdom
Industry: Entertainment / Sports
Job Title: Musician
Age: 26 years
Gender: Male

Lemar Obika is a British-Nigerian soul and rhythm and blues singer who was born in the United Kingdom in Muswell Hill, North London in 1978. His parents were Ibo Nigerians from Enugu State, South Eastern Nigeria. Lemar says that he grew up listening to rhythm and blues and soul music and pretending to be The Jacksons, singing with his brothers and sister.

Lemar performed for the first time in support of Usher at the Temple of Tottenham Junior Jam at the age of seventeen. He had an opportunity to study pharmacy at Cardiff University, but turned it down in order to pursue his true passion for music. This he did by supporting artists like Usher, Uncle Sam, Destiny’s Child, and Total. He released his first single, “Got Me Saying Ooh,” but this did not lead to his success, and he had to get a job as an accounts manager before he was able to take the next steps in promoting his career in music.

In 2002, he appeared on a BBC talent search competition and reality show called Fame Academy where he made the finals by singing, “”Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green. Lemar came in third place on the show, but was noticed by Beverly Knight who invited him to perform a duet in her upcoming concert. It was this performance which caught the eye of Sony Music and led to Lemar’s first five year record deal. His second single, “Dance (With U)” reached the number two spot on the United Kingdom’s singles chart in 2003 and his success continue to grow with his hit album, “Dedicated,” and more successful singles including “50/50” and “Another Day.”

For his incredible talent and dedication, Lemar has received multiple awards and recognitions. Lemar Obika won the BRIT Awards’ British Urban Act in 2004 and 2006. He won the MOBO Award for Best UK Male in 2005 and 2006, and another for Best Album in 2005

They call him Lion
Leo The Lion IhenachoLondon,United Kingdom
Industry: Entertainment / Sports
Job Title: Singer, Songwriter, Actor, DJ
Age: 31 years
Gender: Male

Leo Ihenacho has been described by The Telegraph as “a big voiced, chest baring dude who has clearly been working out.” A Nigerian-British singer, songwriter, and actor, Leo (The Lion) Ihenacho  was born in 1982. He began his successful career in music as “Lee-O,” with a band called The Streets, when he replaced The Streets’ former band member, Kevin Mark Trail. One of his band mates, Mike Skinner gave him the nickname, “Leo the Lion.”

Ihenacho has also released music under the alias, “Dirty Boy.” However, his first big success was in 2004 with The Street’s hit single, “Dry Your Eyes,” which reached the number one spot on the United Kingdom’s singles chart.

Leo (the Lion) Ihenacho has worked with such groups and performers as The Mitchell Brothers, The Darkness, and Kano. He also contributed to The Streets’ number one albums, “The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living” and “A Grand Don’t Come for Free.” He also appeared with Mike Skinner in the 2006 BRIT Awards.  On television, he has appeared on The Match and as a contestant on Celebrity Love Island, where he connected with Bianca Gascoigne but was evicted early in the series despite his popularity.

Leo (the Lion) Ihenacho is currently signed to the independent label, The Hub Entertainment, and is building his own studio and working on writing and producing a solo album which will express his current position in life. This album is expected to reveal a mature side of Leo (the Lion) Ihenacho with a soulful sound and a rhythm and blues beat.

The Chariot
Martin Offiah MBELondon,United Kingdom
Industry: Entertainment / Sports
Job Title: Sports Commentator, Rugby Player
Age: 47 years
Gender: Male

Martin (Chariots) Offiah is a Nigerian-English former rugby player, sports commentator, and player agent who got the nickname of “Chariots” from the 1981 film, Chariots of Fire. Prior to gaining this nickname, he was known as “Great Balls” after the 1950’s Jerry Lewis song, “Great Balls of Fire.” Offiah was born 1966 in London, England and attended Woolverstone Hall School near Ipswich, Suffolk, where he represented the school in fencing while being involved in rugby and cricket. It was in this school that he decided he was most talented and passionate about rugby, and decided to pursue a career in this sport.

Widnes coach Doug Laughton noticed him playing rugby in the Middlesex Sevens, and invited him to move north to play in the rugby league for the 1987-1988 season. Rugby League coach, Alex Murphy of  St. Helens wished to recruit him, but the board of directors was unimpressed and actually called Offiah an “uncoordinated clown.”

At Widnes, Offiah made his reputation as a winger by scoring 181 tries in 145 games. Because of his exceptional performance, he was awarded the Man of Steel Award after his second season, and was chosen for the Great Britain national team.  In the 1989–90 Rugby Football League season, Offiah played for the defending champions against the Canberra Raiders and scored the victory for Widnes in the 1989 World Club Challenge.

In 1992, Offiah joined the Wigan Warriors and joined with Gene Miles to score 30 tries in 15 games in the first season. He set a new club record of ten tries in a single match in the Premiership semi-final against Leeds. Offiah has played on five Championship teams and contributed to four Challenge Cup victories, three Regal Trophy victories, and one Lancashire Cup victory. Offiah played with the London Broncos in 1996 and joined Salford in 2000 before finishing his career in playing rugby with the London Wasps in the Rugby Union.

In 2004, Offiah appeared on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing competition television show in which he scored fourth place with his partner, Erin Boag. He then co-hosted Strictly African Dancing with Natasha Kaplinsky in 2005. Currently Martin (Chariots) Offiah works as a Rugby League covering sports pundit with Sky Sports.

Screenwriter and director
Newton AduakaLondon,United Kingdom
Industry: Entertainment / Sports
Job Title: Film Maker
Age: 47 years
Gender: Male

Newton Aduaka is a filmmaker, director and writer in the United Kingdom. He was born in 1966 in Ogidi, Eastern Nigeria. When he was four years old, in 1970, his family fled to Lagos after the Biafran war, and moved to the United Kingdom in 1985 when he was nineteen. In the UK, Aduaka studied video arts and post-production and film history, art, and technique at the London International Film School from which he graduated in 1990. Early in his career, Aduaka wrote and published short stories and worked as a sound mixer.

Newton Aduaka established Granite FilmWorks in 1997 and produced his first feature length film in 2000, titled “Rage”. This hip-hop film, telling the story of three youths seeking a record deal, won multiple prizes and awards from the Los Angeles Pan-African Film Festival, the Amiens Film Festival, the Montreal Vues d’Afrique and the FESPACO. This was the first independent film produced by a black film-maker to be released nationwide in Britain.

Newton Aduaka directed several commercials and short films including “Voices Behind the Wall” in 1990, “Carnival of Silence” in 1994, and “On the Edge” in 1997 for which he has received many special mentions and prestigious awards. His first non-independent film, “Ezra,” telling the story of a young boy recruited as a soldier in Sierra Leone, was co-written, executive produced, and directed by Aduaka, was a Sundance and Cannes official selection and won the Grand Jury Prize at a variety of film festivals including Durban, Balafon, Amiens, and FESPACO

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