[The 4th 9and last installment0 is here, yay finally…Check out the final installment of African queens who are making waves in the world. ]
I have decided to do a top 16 of African women doing amazing things in their fields. Whether they are in the entertainment industry, the media, or in the government affairs; whether they are running NGOs to improve the lives of others or just a young girl who stood up for her rights and challenged the status quo in South African schools like Zuleika Patel did; these women are breaking barriers and making a huge impact not only within their communities but also worldwide. These women are sharing their African colors with the world.
(This series was updated on 25 March 218)
13. Mamokheti Phakeng
Occupation: Vice Chancellor University of Cape Town
Country of origin: South Africa
Bio Express: ‘Fab Academics’ as she is nicknamed on her social media pages is a Mathematics professor and the current vice chancellor of research and internationalization at one of the most prestigious university in South Africa, the University of Cape Town. Prior to that, she was the Vice Principal of Research and Innovation at the University of South Africa. Mamokgethi Phakeng became the first black South African woman to hold a Ph.D. in mathematics in 2002. Also known as Kgeti, she is a highly rated scientist, researcher, and international speaker. She has produced over 80 research papers with the National Research Foundation and has been invited to speak as a keynote speaker or invited professor all over the world. She has won multiple awards including the most influential woman academic in Africa award by CEO magazine in 2014. Mamokgethi Phakeng is involved in numerous charities and NGOs that promote education, especially for underprivileged kids like Adopt-A-Learner, a non-profit organisation ‘with the aim of recognizing, promoting, and encouraging learner excellence in mathematics and science in black schools’ and Thusanani Foundation a youth-led non-profit organization that aims to bridge the educational information gap between rural high school learners and their urban counterparts through a multi-pronged holistic approach to learner development. On a personal note, I received my B.A degree in Communications and English studies from her when she was the vice principal at UNISA. She is a Fab Academics indeed.
Update : On 17 March 2018, Mamokgethi Phakeng was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape-Town (UCT), effective from 1st of July 2018. House of Nzinga wishes her the best in this new high-profile position.
Country of origin: Zimbabwe/USA
Bio Express: Just like Lupita Nyongo, Danai Gurira is another actress of African origin currently making waves in the USA. Danai was born in Greenwell,(Iowa, USA). Her mom was a university librarian and her father, a lecturer in the chemistry department at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Danai started acting in stage plays. She co-wrote ‘Continuum’ a play about the AIDS pandemic, tthat was performed ‘Off-Broadway’ and in Zimbabwe on World AIDS Day, in 2011. She started her Broadway acting debut in 2009 in a play called ‘Joe Turner’s Come and Gone’ for which she received an award for emerging playwright. She has co-written and starred with Lupita Nyong’o in the stage play ‘Eclipsed’ relating the stories of 3 women sex slaves and captive of rebels in war-torn Liberia. The show started ‘off-Broadway’ but was later showed on Broadway and made history as the first ever all-black, all-female cast and creative team.
But Danai rise to mainstream success can be credited to her role in the horror-drama series hit’ The Walking Dead’ where she played ‘Michonne’, one of the few humans who are fighting Zombies. The future looks bright for Danai acting career. she recently played Afeni Shakur, the Black Panther mother to the late hip-hop icon, Tupc Shakur, in the rapper’s biopic which was released on 16 June 2017. Danai is also featured in the blockbuster Black Panther, as Okoye, the head of the all-female army of Wakanda, released earlier this year (2018.) ‘Black Panther’ . Danai kick-ass role as the lead of the Dora Milaje army, will also appear in the last installment of ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ set to be release later this month.
Occupation: Award winning novelist and essayist.
Country of origin: Zimbabwe/South Africa
Bio Express: Panashe is a writer born in Zimbabwe but raised in South Africa.
Panashe Chigumadzi is an award-winning novelist and essayist, who was born in Zimbabwe and grew up in South Africa. Her best-selling debut novel ‘Sweet Medicine’ (BlackBird Books 2016) won the 2016 K Sello Duiker Literary Award (SA), whilst her short story ‘Small Deaths’ was nominated for the 2016 Pushcart Literary Prize (USA). Her work has appeared in media such as The New York Times (USA), Transition (USA), The Guardian (UK), Spiegel (Germany), City Press (SA) and The Sunday Times (SA). Her forthcoming monograph on the interwoven politics of hair and land, ‘Beautiful Hair’, will be published in 2017.She is the founding editor of Vanguard Magazine, a platform for young black women coming of age in post-apartheid South Africa. Prior to this, she gained media experience both as a journalist for CNBC Africa and a columnist for Forbes Woman Africa, and as a project executive for the Africa Business News Group.
In 2015, she became a Ruth First Fellow and is currently completing a masters degree in African Literature at Wits University, Johannesburg. She is the curator of Soweto’s inaugural Abantu Book Festival, the first of its kind and magnitude for black readers and writers in South Africa’s largest township, that was first held in December 2016.
Country of origin: Angola
Bio Express: Maria Borges is one of the new generation of models making waves in the fashion world. I came across Maria via her Instagram account and was in awe of her beautiful yet natural and girl next door look. Maria was scouted in 2010 when she finished second at the Elite Models contest. She got a deal with a local model agency that got her to work in Lisbon, Portugal. A 2013 Givenchy campaign was the catalyst to her international career and today Maria has worked with numerous prominent fashion brands like Carolina Herrera, Tom Ford, Givenchy, L’Oreal, and Balmain. She has appeared in advertisements for brands like Maybelline, H&M and L’Oreal. Although her life seems to be about glitz and glamour, it wasn’t always the case. Maria grew up during the Angolan civil war, and was raised by her older sister who was only 4 years older than her.
Maria made a buzz when last year when she walked the Victoria’s Secret runway with an afro, being the first black model to ever do so. At only 24, she still has a long career ahead of her and we can be sure that we will see more of her in the coming years. Way to go Maria!
(This series was updated on 25 March 2018)