There is a Renaissance birthing in the Black consciousness of the 21st century Negro who is unencumbered by borders and labels. It is as bold in pride and dignity as it is in the wealth of awareness that He Is The Answer. I see this daily in the men who make up ICON MANN as well as those who inspire the counter-conversation to the single dimensionality that media and society continue to put forth of him. These men have money, yes. They have power, yes, but they also have an X-factor: something that is untouchable and not for sale. You see it in the way they walk, the way they conduct themselves, and the way they are reshaping the world around them. These men, I believe, are in full possession of their true north—Africa, and she is undeniable.
“I am not African because I was born in Africa. I am African because Africa was born in me.” The great Ghanaian leader and Pan-African Nationalist Kwame Nkrumah said these words more than fifty years ago, and I believe they are as true now as they were then.
When thinking about what sort of dynamic men to frame this week’s content around, we determined it best to shine the light on the men whose connection, citizenship, and countenance is boldly associated with the inspired perception change being shined on the world’s most important emerging continental market: Africa. Multi-Billionaires, like ALIKO DANGOTE and PATRICE MOTSEPE, have joined the ranks of Warren Buffett, Bill & Melinda Gates, Richard Branson, and Mark Zuckerberg in pledging in their lifetime to give away a lion’s share of their hard earned fortunes to transformational charities dedicated to the eradication of poverty and advancement of living standards. For those of you whose iPad is filled with issues of Forbes, FT.com, and The Economist, you know them well for what they have amassed and the businesses they have built. However, do you know the cost or the potential of their empires?
SANUSI LAMIDO SANUSI, Emir of Kano does. He is second most powerful political figure in Nigeria. As former Governor the Central Bank of Nigeria, he exposed a $20 billion corruption under the country’s former president Good Luck Jonathan—or as we like to say in his failure to protect more than 267 girls, which sparked #BringBackOurGirls, from terrorists—Good Riddance Jonathan. For that, he is one of TIMES Most Powerful People on Earth!
Power, it is said, is an illumination—like someone turned on a light in the darkness to create and foster potential. Super Producer and Grammy nominated artist AKON in partnership with THIONE NIANG and SAMBA BATHILY are bringing solar power to nearly 600 million people in various countries in rural Africa and Latin America with AKON LIGHTING AFRICA. Together they are providing the ‘hand up’ that renowned Savile Row Tailor OZWALD BOATENG OBE spoke of in the formation of his MADE IN AFRICA foundation, which was co-founded with CHRIS CLEVERLY, and has resulted in the C.A.R.E, an urban development of 3500 living spaces in Kampala Uganda. Helming the development is renowned architect DAVID ADJAYE whose firm Adjaye Associates is completing its work in the US on the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
These men of great measure and purpose, whose living narrative is straight forward and steeped in heritage larger than material possession, are exactly the kind that protagonist that Nigerian novelist and scholar CHINUA ACHEBE would have penned. They are the men that inspire our focus this month on AFRICA—how beautiful she is!
Tamara N. Houston