It all started in 2017 when the Nubian princess, South African actress and UNHCR ambassador, Nomzamo Mbatha was named KOKO’s Woman Of The Year. Thereafter the coveted honour has been awarded to former Nigerian Minister and Presidential candidate, Oby Ezekwesili.
KOKO’s Woman of the Year award is always about the person or people and ideas that shaped our continent and year.
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Our ability as a society to adapt, innovate and grow on a global and local level has been extraordinary. From innovations in science and medicine that accelerated a COVID-19 vaccine to the social awakening of citizens and corporations taking action in support of ending police brutality and Black Lives Matter ✊🏿, to the United Kingdom sealing an historic Brexit, to the largest turnout of voters in the history of U.S. presidential elections, this year has demonstrated our humanity, scars and all, and what it truly means to be a global citizen.
For KOKO’s ‘2020 Woman of The Year’, collaboration as always, is the hallmark of our team, and it is not an overstatement to say that nearly everyone at KOKO touched this project. The many pieces were overseen by Adenike Sobo alongside Emmanuel Ajide.
The selection of ‘Woman of the Year’ is never easy, we begin the process with a late-September meeting, the nominations are varied and the debates vigorous and this year was far more difficult than most. Predictions can make fools of all of us, but it safe to say that historians will look at 2020 as a crucial turning point on many fronts particularly for Nigeria and a new generation of Nigerians.
Our ‘Woman of the Year’ 2020 represents not only her trailblazing efforts but more importantly, embodies the hopes and achievements of millions of extraordinary women who make a difference every day across our nations and continent. Our annual honour is awarded to the person who’s influenced the year’s events the most, and there’s no other person or group of people, that encapsulates that more than Aisha Yesufu.
Aisha is more than an activist demanding good governance in her country. She is co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, launched in response to the 2014 abduction of more than 200 girls from a secondary school in Chibok, by the militant terrorist group Boko Haram. Speaking with Aisha, gives you an insight into the ideas, beliefs and personality of the woman known globally as a prominent face in the “EndSARS” protests, which saw Nigerians take to the streets to demand greater accountability from the Federal Government of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerian Police Force, beginning with the dissolution of the controversial Special Anti Robbery Squad (Sars) members which have been accused of the murder, rape and robbery of many young Nigerians.
This was an unprecedented event (even in a global pandemic) and massive achievement in the history of activism, youth awareness, public outcry and a demand for good governance in Africa’s most populous and powerful country. Aisha is the embodiment of the resilience of 2020 and the never-say-die Nigerian indomitable spirit.
We are honoured to celebrate Aisha Yesufu as KOKO’s 2020 Woman of the Year.
Photo Credit: Getty