Africans on TIME Magazines 2013 100 Most Influential People in the World List:
Joyce Banda, President of Malawi
Joyce Banda, Malawi’s first and Africa’s second female President, could not have come onto the stage at a better time, particularly since the African Union declared 2010 to 2020 African Women’s Decade. Together, she and I can talk about the situation in Africa and what can be done by all our countries, working together in strong partnership, to build bridges and democracies and get our institutions and economies strong again.
President Banda possesses the traits needed during this period of great challenges in Malawi’s, and Africa’s, history. Before her active career in politics, Joyce Banda established several nongovernmental and charitable foundations, all geared toward improving the lives of her compatriots, particularly women. Today Joyce and I have a collaborative program that focuses on improving the working conditions of market women. There have already been exchange visits between market women of our two countries.
President Banda is committed to using her position to improve the lives of women across the continent, not just in Malawi. She has great strength. I am delighted that I’m not alone in Africa anymore.
Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Actor, singer, philanthropist
The world’s most productive English-language film industry is not Hollywood but Nollywood. The teeming Nigerian cinema grinds out some 2,500 movies a year, mostly direct-to-DVD quickies mixing melodrama, music and an evangelical Christian spin. (Think Bollywood via Tyler Perry.) Employing a million Nigerians, Nollywood enthralls millions more who come for the thrills, the uplift and the artful agitations of Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde — the Queen of Nollywood.
Called OmoSexy by her fans, she has made 300 or so features, from the 1996 Mortal Inheritance to the 2010 superproduction Ijé, shot partly on location in Los Angeles. Married to an airline pilot she wed on a flight from Lagos to Benin, Jalade-Ekeinde brings a juggler’s grace to her roles as actress, singer, reality-show star, mother of four and philanthropist (the Omotola Youth Empowerment Programme).
Success hasn’t spoiled Africa’s most renowned leading lady. Rather than going Hollywood, Omotola wants to stay Nollywood.
Moncef Marzouki, President of Tunisia
His power stems not from what he is — his office is ceremonial — but from who and where he is: a leftist liberal President appointed by an Islamist-dominated assembly in the nation where the Arab Spring first flowered. All the countries that followed Tunisia’s lead now face identical challenges. Marzouki recognizes that there are two Tunisias: one religiously conservative and anxious for socioeconomic improvement, the other secular and progressive and terrified of losing its freedoms. Marzouki’s job, he says, is to reassure both that they can coexist, by writing a new constitution that enshrines human rights while respecting Islam and ensuring that both Tunisias have a voice in the political process.
The best reassurance may be Marzouki himself: if he thrives, it will demonstrate that the Arab Spring states can build a pluralistic political environment.
Bassem Youssef, Satirist
My job is hard. I have to sift through pages of political- and media-themed satirical material from exceptional writers and figure out what amusing face I can make to accompany each jab. Then I must perform them, 22 minutes a day, four days a week, with only our caterer’s spread to sustain me. Bassem Youssef does my job in Egypt. The only real difference between him and me is that he performs his satire in a country still testing the limits of its hard-earned freedom, where those who speak out against the powerful still have much to fear. Yet even under these difficult circumstances, he manages to produce an incredible show: a hilarious blend of mimicry, confusion, outrage and bemusement, highlighting the absurdities and hypocrisies of his country’s rebirth, all wielded with the precision of a scalpel, which, by the way, he should know how to wield because he’s a former heart surgeon. Yeah. And his family is beautiful and he’s a kind and generous friend. I am an American satirist, and Bassem Youssef is my hero.