The shortlist of candidates for KOKO’s 2019 Person of the Year was unveiled Friday morning.
Since 2017, KOKO has identified the Person of the Year (Originally Woman of the Year), recognizing the person or group of people who most influenced the Black and African news during the past year, for better or for worse.
In recent years, the Person of the Year has won by South Africa actress and UNHCR ambassador, Nomzamo Mbatha and former Nigerian Minister and Presidential candidate, Oby Ezekwesili. The shortlist over the years have included included Bonang Matheba, Peace Hyde, Tiwa Savage amongst others.
In alphabetical order, the 13 finalists selected by KOKO editors this year are:
1. Abiy Ahmed: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Nobel Peace Prize winner is a leading light in Africa and across the world. His diplomacy, leadership and humanitarian prowess is outstanding.
2. Natacha Akide And The Titans – Former Big Brother Naija housemate, Tacha, and her fans called Titans have been relentless in creating news and trends since she was disqualified from the reality show.
3. Busola Dakolo – Celebrity photographer broke the taboo about rape and rape reporting, when she revealed she was raped by a popular pastor. He story resonated with a lot of Nigerian women and has led to more women speaking up against sexual abuse and assaults.
4. Azeez Fashola – Naira Marley And The Marlians: Lagos-born artist Naira Marley fuses afrobeats with a gritty rap sound. The ever controversial Naira Marley is outspoken and appeals to a fiercely loyal fan base with his Soapy and JAPA dance steps. theTracks include JAPA and Drummer Boy and have marked the artist as a force to be reckoned with for the UK rap scene.
5. Anthony Joshua – The Nigerian heavyweight was defeated by Andy Ruiz Jr on June 1 in New York, but the much loved boxer exerted his revenge 6 months after in Saudi Arabia to become a two-weight heavyweight Champion of the World.
6. Amina Mohammed – Nigerian politician is the current Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. She was formerly the Federal Minister of the Environment of Nigeria. Mother of six Amina Mohammed rose from a humble upbringing in the Lake Chad region to being one of the most powerful diplomat in the world.
7. Genevieve Nnaji – Nigerian star and film director, Genevieve Nnaji, is one of the most loved Nollywood star. Nnaji received accolades as the first Nigerian ever to get an Oscar nod, when her film Lionheart was nominated for an Academy Award.
8. Trevor Noah: South African comedian and television presenter is the current host of The Daily Show, an American satirical news program on Comedy Central. He’s an award-winning talent and 2019 saw him nominated for a Grammy amongst other prestigious ones.
8. Damini Ogulu – Burna Boy: Nigeria’s Afro-fusion artist Damini Ogulu, popularly known as Burna Boy, has had a standout year winning a string of awards and sold out venues across the globe. Beside being nominated for a Grammy Award, Burna Boy has topped the 2019 list of Apple Music’s most-streamed artists.
9. Ilhan Omar – Somali-born US congresswoman has become a thorn in President Trump’s side. Ihlan Omar is the 38-year-old Somali-born US congresswoman changing the face of politics and portrayal of ethnic minority.
10. Omoyele Sowore: Nigerian human rights activist and former presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore, was on August 3, 2019 arrested by the Nigerian Department of Security Services for alleged treason after calling for a protest tagged RevolutionNow. The RevolutionNow movement and handling of the activist by the Nigerian Government has gripped the nation and the world at large.
11. Florence Otedola – DJ Cuppy: Florence is one of the biggest disc jockey in Nigeria and the most followed DJ in Africa. She is the daughter of Nigerian businessman Femi Otedola and her philanthropic activities in 2019, sets her apart.
12. Zozibini Tunzi: For the first time in history, Miss Universe is a woman with natural hair. Miss South Africa Zozibini Tunzi break the beauty stereotype to win the crown with her beautiful short, afro hair.
13. Kamaru Usman: The Nigerian mixed martial artist competes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, where he is the current UFC Welterweight Champion. Usman is also The Ultimate Fighter 21 tournament winner. Kamaru has had an outstanding 2019.
Photo Credit: Getty