After years of intimidation and risking his life to publicise and fight government corruption and injustice, Kenya’s most prominent photojournalist-cum-activist decided this year that enough is enough. Having led many of Kenya’s most dramatic protests in recent years, from carrying 49 coffins around parliament to drawing graffiti on the streets of Nairobi, Boniface Mwangi says he has decided to get off the streets. This move has left many Kenyans disappointed, but Mwangi has vowed to continue fighting for change, just in less risk.
El Anatsui, The junk sculptor – Ghana
When most people spot a discarded bottle cap, rusty nail or block of driftwood, they see junk. But not El Anatsui. For the celebrated Ghanaian sculptor, these everyday materials are the pieces of the puzzle that make up the grand mosaic of his powerfully mesmerising works. Drawing on the artistic traditions of West Africa, El Anatsui’s ambitious and varied sculptures engage with the region’s rich cultural present and past, drawing the acclaim of admirers all around the world.
Baloji, The Maestro on tour – Democratic Republic of Congo
Baloji takes to stages with the swaggering, strutting style of a sapeur and brings a sound that fuses the stirring sounds of the Congolese rumba and soukous with the sharp edge of modern hip-hop, funk and rap. And this year, accompanied by L’Orchestre de la Katuba, the Congolese musician has been taking to a lot of stages in a lot of countries. His eclectic style and conscious message is spreading and it seems audiences cannot get enough.
Mafikizolo, The duo who get Africa dancing – South Africa
After nearly 15 years in the music industry, the South African duo infiltrated the African market with their 2013/2014 hit, “Khona” and became the biggest group on the continent. Comprised of Theo Kgosinkwe and Nhlanhla Nciza, Mafikizolo, the band has exposed the world to South African house music, influencing emerging artists to incorporate the genre into their work. Their latest single, “Tchelete”, featuring Davido, is another hit, and another reason why the duo had to make our list.
Sindika Dokolo, The gentleman opening a new frontier of African art – Democratic Republic of Congo
He has one of the largest African collections of contemporary art, and served as a keynote speaker at the 1:54 forum this year. Sindika Dokolo is a businessman whose passion for African art is opening a new frontier in the industry. Determined to not only keep contemporary African art on the continent, but to also allow the public to access the works of the most important artists – African or otherwise – Dokolo is fostering a new appreciation for art and painting a bright future for emerging artists.
Hugh Masekela, The old man with young blood – South Africa
He’s still got it. Over 50 years since his first album, 60 years since he first picked up a trumpet, and 75 years since he was born in a township of Witbank, South Africa, the world- famous Afro-Jazz pioneering, protest-song singing, African icon and flugelhornist Hugh Masekela has still got it. With a dry wit, a wide smile and a level of energy befitting of a teenager, Masekela continues to wow and charm crowds across the world with his exuberant performances.