7 African creatives who left a mark in 2018
This year, many artists, authors, creatives did a lot of great, remarkable things. We take a look at seven of these well-accomplished personalities.
Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, better known Wizkid, had a year so good we are just going to call 2018 Wizkid's year.
He kicked off things by becoming the first African act to sell out London's 20,000-capacity O2 Arena in May. He also performed at loads of international shows like the Reading Festival, UK and the recent 2018 Global Citizen Festival in South Africa, where he performed with the likes of Beyonce, Jay Z and Pharrell.
Outside the music, he had a great impact on Pop culture made evident by the fact that his Super Eagles World Cup jersey, designed by athletic apparel giant 'Nike' sold out 10 minutes after launching. He took things to a whole new level by walking the Dolce and Gabbana Runway alongside top model, Naomi Campbell, hanging out with Diddy at his US home and getting an official 'Wizkid Day' declared in his honour by the US State of Minnesota.
Wizkid's year ends with a high note with his song 'fever' named as the top trending songs of the year. His other songs 'Manya' and 'Soco' also dominated the list.
Fellow Nigerian singer and songwriter Tiwatope 'Tiwa Savage' Balogun started 2018 by getting featured on Vogue’s ‘World 100: These Are the People Who Are Inspiring Us Right Now’ in February.
Soon after, she headlined her debut UK show at the Indigo at the O2 Arena before a sold-out audience on August 24th. In November, Savage beat strong contenders like Davido to make history by becoming the first African female to win Best African Act at the MTV EMAs.
She rounded up the year by sharing the stage with Beyonce and Jay Z at the Global Citizen Festival in South Africa and getting featured in the December edition of British Vogue.
Prior to this year, this American-Ghanaian designer, DJ and stylist was most prominent for his work with Kanye West as his creative director even getting nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Recording Package for the 2011 Jay-Z / Kanye West album 'Watch the Throne.'
Things changed when he was appointed as the artistic director of menswear at Louis Vuitton in March 2018. "This opportunity to think through what the next chapter of design and luxury will mean at a brand that represents the pinnacle of luxury was always a goal in my wildest dreams," he said of his appointment.
Soon after, he was named as one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in April, had his Paris debut, unveiled a Nike collection designed specifically for Serena Williams, and worked with big names like Timberland, Burton, Jimmy Choo, Chrome Hearts, Ikea, Kith, Equinox, A-Cold-Wall, Burton, Grog, and McDonald's.
His fashion label, Off-White, is currently the "hottest fashion brand on the planet", according to the fashion and e-commerce platform Lyst's quarterly ranking. He has just been named as the new Creative Advisor for Sustainable Innovation Design for Global mineral water brand Evian.
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
This award-winning Nigerian-born visual artist has gained international acclaim for her work which "negotiates the cultural terrain between her adopted home in America and her native Nigeria, creating collage and photo transfer-based paintings that expose the challenges of occupying these two worlds".
After winning the McArthur Genius grant and becoming N225 million richer in 2017, she designed the mural at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles this year.
In October, Crosby made history for having the most expensive art sold at an auction when one of her 2017 works Bush Babies sold for N1.2 billion instead of the N289 million estimated by Sotheby. Currently, over 20 art museums are on the waiting list for her works.
This is a really remarkable feat considering the fact that only three years ago, her paintings sold for an average of $3000. Her solo show "The Beautyful Ones," is currently open at the National Portrait Gallery in London (Nov. 17, 2018–Feb. 3, 2019).
This half-Igbo, half-Tamil descent started writing from an early age. It wasn't long before her works started getting published in various magazines. She won her first award - the Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa - last year for 'Who Is Like God'.
Her year began with her being profiled by Vogue Magazine in January and getting her picture taken by Annie Leibovitz, a legendary photographer. She was featured alongside her sister, Yagazi, Hollywood star Olivia Wilde, her sister Barbara Burchfield, Ilhan Omar and her family.
A month later, her highly anticipated autobiographical novel 'Freshwater' was released and immediately became an Amazon Top 10 Book Picks for February 2018. It has since been listed as a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, most anticipated book by Esquire, The Rumpus, Elle, Bustle, Book Riot, and was chosen by as the National Book Foundation's '5 under 35' for 2018. In September, she was shortlisted for her first international award, the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize.
Emezi's first young adult novel 'Pet' has already been acquired by Christopher Myers for his Make Me a World imprint, in partnership with Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers. It is expected to be released in 2019. Her second forthcoming novel, 'The Death of Vivek Oji' has also been acquired by Riverhead Books in a two-book deal.
Apart from her work in literature, the multi-talented artist also dabbles in film. Her short film 'Ududeagu' received the audience award at the 2014 BlackStar Film Festival.
Next on our list is fellow Nigerian and younger sister to the aforementioned writer. This self-taught documentary photographer and freelance storyteller has worked with big names like the New York Times, Time Magazine, Vogue, Newsweek, The Guardian, Refinery29 and Everyday Projects.
After being a participant of the World Press Photo Masterclass West Africa in 2017, Yagazie kicked off this year by winning the 2018 inaugural Creative Bursary Award from Getty Images in January. She was later selected as a participant for the 2018 New York Portfolio Review.
This year, her work has been in 'The Voyages Issue' by The New York Times Magazine, Time Magazine's ' Next Generation Leaders' and the 'Health Special: Out of Africa' issue by Newsweek.
We round up this year's list with this Ugandan playwright, actress, and filmmaker. Since writing her first piece of work at age 17, she has gone off to conquer the art world.
In February, the Los Angeles-based creative's short film 'Kyenvu' ("yellow" in Luganda) won the 'Best Narrative Short Film' at the Pan African Film Festival that happened last night in Los Angeles. The same film got her two more awards, the East African Talent Award at the Zanzibar International Film Festival and the Harness Social Impact Award at the 13th Annual NBC Universal Short Film Festival in the US.
Coutinho's film 'Green' made her one of the recipients of Kevin Hart's Laugh Out Loud Filmmaking fellowship in April. She was also featured on the Forbes' 30 Under 30 list for 2018 in June.
JOIN OUR PULSE COMMUNITY!
Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: