BEYOND THE UK, SAY HELLO TO THE FIRST-EVER BLACKLIST WEST AFRICA (2022) IN ASSOCIATION WITH NATIVE MAG…

Last week we released The BLACKLIST 2022 (UK), which displayed the evident evolution of this project since it was first released. From the creative direction to the expanded representation of the wider UK, beyond London, we are constantly pushing the growth of The BLACKLIST to showcase Black professionals in the most balanced and admirable light. To mark the 5th year of The BLACKLIST, we knew that we wanted to expand beyond the UK. In embarking upon a new list we felt a collaboration with NATIVE was the way to go.
by SAYO OLUKOGA Oct 28, 2022

The BLACKLIST was founded by GUAP in 2018 to recognise the impact of young Black professionals across the board. In 2021, The BLACKLIST saw the first ever inclusion of some international honorary BLACKLISTER’s from around the globe, from Canada to Nigeria.

This year, as part of the growth of this celebratory list, GUAP and NATIVE Mag have teamed up to introduce the first ever fully international BLACKLIST – The BLACKLIST West Africa 2022. 

Last week we released The BLACKLIST 2022 (UK), which displayed the evident evolution of this project since it was first released. From the creative direction to the expanded representation of the wider UK, beyond London, we are constantly pushing the growth of The BLACKLIST to showcase Black professionals in the most balanced and admirable light. 

To mark the 5th year of The BLACKLIST, we knew that we wanted to expand beyond the UK. In embarking upon a new list we felt a collaboration with NATIVE was the way to go. 

We agreed that our visibility of professionals through our collaboration with a Nigeria-based publication would most likely be of primarily Nigerian professionals, however we wanted to start this list with aims to keep doing the work and grow into a balanced representation over the years, thus The BLACKLIST West Africa was born; a list of 12 under 30’s from the continent doing amazing things across all work sectors.

West Africa is made up of 16 countries, this year’s list shines a light on 3 of those countries. As we move forward we aim to keep connecting with professionals who can contribute to our visibility until we are inclusive of all of West Africa. 

The BLACKLIST isn’t about popularity or association – it’s about impact and innovation. We aim to show that young professionals in the current generations exist diversely and are moving with admirable pace.

Black people are originators, leaders and key supporters, The BLACKLIST is not about being better, it’s about being important through your very own contribution to society. 

Without further ado The BLACKLIST West Africa 2022

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Ayomide Dokunmu (@ayomidedokunmu)

Ayomide Dokunmu is the founder of Femme Digital, the mother brand to Femme Africa, FEMME MAG & Femme fest. After graduating magna cum laude from St John’s University, NY with a degree in Communications arts and a minor in business administration, she moved back to her hometown Lagos, Nigeria to pursue a career in its fast-growing entertainment industry. In December 2018, she successfully curated an all-female multi-genre musical concert known as ‘Femme: The Showcase’ with performances from Tems, Jazz Atta, Deborah Prest, and more. Since then, Femme has served as a platform to amplify female talent.

Ayomide told us “This might sound cliche, but I am inspired by women and how amazingly multifaceted we are”.

It’s this inspiration that led Ayomide to create a community of diverse women looking for platforms that resonate with them: “My major aim for my career is to reach as many women as possible and create a long-lasting impact. I want younger women to grow up in a world where they can do whatever they put their minds to and feel safe whilst doing it because as we all know, the world can be a very cruel place to women” .

Oluwatomisin Akinwunmi (@tomisin_akins)

Oluwatomisin Akinwunmi aka Tomisin is the CEO and Founder of Lucid Lemons Limited, a creative agency that serves as a springboard for creative talent found here in Nigeria and Nigerians across the world, demonstrated by the successes of the past 7 years.

Lucid Lemons provides creative individuals with opportunities for work, and resources to further their ambitions, these resources include hosting our own live events and festivals (pre-Covid).

As well as the aforementioned, Tomisin is the COO, product designer, graphic artist, video editor, creative director and more of a social enterprise known as the DashMe Foundation. 

Tomisin told us: “I am passionate about empowering creatives in my community and especially providing a platform for the women in the industry and those that want to get into the industry. I want to grow Lucid Lemons as a platform for undiscovered and upcoming African talent to have a stepping stone to success. Creating more opportunities for growth, for women and for budding talent to shine. Lucid Lemons is the place for discovery and development”

Benewaah Boateng

Benewaah Boateng is a music enthusiast dedicated to discovering and amplifying emerging and alternative African music. After dabbling in advertising, where she worked with advertising giants Ogilvy and Publicis in Ghana, she entered into the world of music by sharing her passion through music discovery website Harmattan Rain. 

This small push towards her passion snowballed into a position at Universal Music Group in Nigeria, Apple Music and now Spotify. In early 2021, she merged her love for music, marketing and strategy into co-founding music marketing agency rain Labs.

“I’m inspired by the intersection of creativity and technology, I love seeing people create things that years ago weren’t deemed possible. I’m also very inspired by nature. I love the National Geographic channel. Everything in nature is in sync and works together perfectly. That kind of synergy in any situation is enviable. My aim for the future is to elevate creators. To be part of creating an ecosystem that ensures creators (wether they are musicians, artists, gamers etc) are compensated fairly and adequately regardless of their location, ethnicity or sex.”

Matthew Blaise (@matthew.blaise)

Matthew ‘Blaise’ Nwozaku is a non-binary, openly gay activist in Nigeria. They’ve dedicated their life and work to confronting the violence towards gender non-conforming persons & Queer people in Nigeria by creating safe spaces for the LGBTQI+ community, advocating for Queer rights through online and in-person events, and mobilizing actions. 

Matthew is the co-founder of The Oasis Project and the founder of the Queer and Trans Emergency Fund. Their work has brought much needed visibility to the plight of queer Africans. They are a recipient of the MTV EMAs Generation Change award and they’ve been nominated and awarded; The Future Awards Africa; SOGIESC activist of 2020 by TIERS ; DAZED 100 Changemakers; Women Deliver Young leadership Program.

They are also the convener of ‘Queering Christmas’, an annual celebration of Queer resilience and rebellion in Nigeria. During the #ENDSARS protests, They mobilized and used their voice in a declaration that saw millions of views. Their message of queer liberation and Intersectionality reached a global audience, far and wide. As a result of this widely publicized demonstration, they’ve been featured in Vogue, Ze.tt, ZDFheute, Out Magazine, PinkNews, Time ,Bloomberg, Channel 4 News, among other notable global media outlets and publications.

I am greatly inspired by the resilience of young queer Nigerians and those before them, who fought and who are still fighting for the liberation of queer and trans people in this anti-queer country. I am also greatly inspired by a childhood I never got to live as a queer child due to homophobic and transphobic violence. The rage from my sad childhood memories fuels my activism fire. The aim for my work as an activist is that all my initiatives gets to outlive me and be very beneficial to not just queer people in Nigeria but every part of the world”. 

Nuits Balnéaires (@nuits_balneaires)

Born in Abidjan in 1994, Nuits Balnéaires is an Ivorian visual artist, photographer, film director and poet based in Grand-Bassam. His work is intimately rooted in tradition, culture, imagination and aims to understand the mechanisms that led to the civilisations living along the current Gulf of Guinea region, while also exploring its geographical borders inherited from the colonial era. He wants us to envision another multi-dimensional world, filled with poetry, light, beauty, ritual, and spirituality. His latest series “The Power of Alliances” is the outcome of a one-year visual journalism fellowship with the World Press Photo Foundation. This work has been exhibited at ArtXLagos, at the 1-54 Contemporary art fair in Paris Christie’s, and as part of Dada Gallery’s Black History Month exhibit, earning him a full spread in The Guardian. 

Stimulating introspection about existential questions is what I try to foster with my work, to heal our individual and community lives. I’m perpetually looking for any knowledge that can further root me spiritually. Every work I create is part of this process. A few years ago, I moved from Abidjan to the small seaside creative haven of Grand-Bassam. That transformed my perception of family, but also my spiritual journey and personal identity. I’m surrounded by people who are very community-oriented and keep me grounded. My studio is a space where culture, art, craft and the local youth converge, to reflect and answer the questions and challenges we face today. I aim to see more spotlight, oriented on the gifted and effervescent Ivorian art scene”.

Oyinkan Dada (@oyinkandada)

Oyinkansola Dada is the Lagos-born, London-based founder of DADA Gallery and DADA Magazine. The gallery’s mission is to introduce the most exciting contemporary Black artists to international audiences. Since inception, it has curated experiences across Francophone Africa, Anglophone Africa and Europe. Its roster consists of Black artists whose work sidesteps the traditional and tackles divisive themes of immigration, sexuality, gender and more. In October 2022, she released DADA Magazine, an art magazine founded on the ethos of DADA Gallery, targeted at the new generation of Black artists and art enthusiasts.

Dada comes from a non-art background. By studying International Politics at King’s College London and working as a solicitor in London, she is able to offer both creative and ancillary support to her artists. She has been profiled for her work by Financial Times, The Face and Okay Africa, amongst others.

“I am inspired by artists and creatives around me and the incredible work that they do. My mission is to find ways to amplify their vision and help them reach their potential. I am also driven by the new generation of art enthusiasts who need a steer in the right direction in order to understand the art world around them. For me, it is really important that a community is being built, allowing for a melting pot of ideas and creating more visibility for Black art.”

Eniola Korty (@korty_eo)

Eniola Korty Olanrewaju popularly known as Korty EO is an Indie Filmmaker and YouTuber from Nigeria. Her videos are character and experience driven. Korty gained recognition towards the end of 2020, when she told the story of how she quit her job to start a Youtube channel. Since then, her channel has grown by 1000%. In less than 2 years, she had gained over 200,000 subscribers, the fastest any Nigerian YouTuber has grown within this timeframe. 

“I’m inspired by the personal experiences and the experiences of people around me, I want to tell these stories in ways that give people some sense of hope. I believe hope is very important to move through life swiftly. Honestly I just want to get more young people to do whatever they want to do by watching me do what I want to do without fear or doubt. There’s a lot of African creative geniuses around the world who are not sure how to start or navigate their careers and I just want to create a platform that gives them more confidence to do whatever they want – and I’m going to do it.

Iretidayo Zacchaeus (@iretizee99)

Ireti Zaccheaus is a young pioneer, she is the founder of Street Souk, West Africa’s first and biggest streetwear convention which she started five years ago. Over the years Street Souk has grown to be one of the biggest and most sought after events in Nigeria. Street Souk has collaborated with some of the biggest streetwear brands in the world such as Off-White & Daily Paper. At only 23, Ireti is pioneering a movement and building bridges between the African and Global streetwear community. With years working in Nigeria’s entertainment industry, Ireti’s interests culminated in the launch of Street Souk in 2018, with its sophomore edition following in 2019. Ireti divides her time between her hometown of Lagos, and London. An alumni of the University of Manchester and Cass Business School, Ireti’s deep immersion in pop culture spans from sports, to music, but her passion remains streetwear and its unique culture in Nigeria and around the world. Ireti is also a creative and brand consultant currently holding the role as community manager at Metallic inc where she has worked with brands like Nike, Jordan , Moncler, Diesel, Meta and Apple.

“I’m inspired by my friends and family;  sounds very cliche but honestly there is so much greatness around me and it keeps me aspiring to be better. From my brother Teezee having the first African joint venture record label with def jam (NATIVE Records) to my best friend Olaolu Slawn being one of the hottest artists in the world right now, I’m currently inspired by the people around me. I’m inspired by my country Nigeria as well as seeing people hustle and just keep going regardless of their situation and what life throws at them inspires me”.

“My aim for my career is to be the number one streetwear convention in the world and to finish off the mission I started at Street Souk which is to export African streetwear to the rest of the world and be the driving force behind uniting the African streetwear community and to continue providing a platform for upcoming streetwear brands on the continent to grow”.

Laila Johnson-Salami (@lailajohnsonsalami)

Laila Johnson-Salami is a Nigerian Journalist changing and challenging narratives one conversation at a time. She is a Politics and International Relations Graduate from the University of Westminster, who is passionate about women’s rights, human development and the environment. Currently, Laila is a Correspondent at ARISE News, reporting on the environment and international affairs. She produces and presents ‘Go Wild’ in partnership with international NGO WildAid; a first of its kind wildlife focused show on national news in Nigeria. Laila also reports on healthcare and politics.

Laila has contributed to the Commonwealth Youth Council since 2016 and the Financial Times since 2018. Previously, she worked with Nigeria Info FM and Wazobia Max TV.

Her dedication to women’s rights led her to become a Founding Member of the Feminist Coalition, an organisation championing equality for Nigerian women. She is also a podcaster, producing her own podcast (The Broken Record Podcast) and co-hosting a new podcast with German international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle (DW), called African Roots.

In 2022, Laila won an award granted by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in partnership with the European Union Delegation, the British High Commission and the Embassies of France, Germany and the United States of America in Nigeria. She received the award for the category of Media and Journalism, being described by the awards committee as “A rising star in media and journalism who is changing the narrative around gender equality, youth empowerment, climate action and social inclusion, one conversation at a time”.

Daniel Obasi (@iamdanielobasi)

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Daniel Obasi is a Nigerian art director, stylist and photographer whose work is deeply aligned with advancing the scope of African narratives visually. He was born in Aba, Abia State but raised in Lagos. While Daniel majored in Language in university, Daniel developed an interest in the world of fashion, and became intrigued by how the society around him perceived gender roles and masculinity. He went on to spend some time working as a fashion intern for Ours Magazine and worked as a stylist with several notable Nigerian luxury brands.

Daniel has been drawn to fantasy and alternate realities since his childhood. In 2017, Daniel made his first major film and editorial work, “Illegal Project” on gender non-conforming expressions in an African setting. The project went on to launch his budding career as a Nigerian Artist who questions and challenges societal norms on sexuality, masculinity and gender roles. 

In 2020, Daniel worked as a stylist on the film “Black is King” by Beyoncé. In 2021, Daniel styled and directed “Keere O”, a noir-inspired fashion film for Lisa Folawiyo, which celebrates the different facets of femininity and features an alluring soundtrack which was produced by Daniel himself.

In 2022, Daniel Published his first photo book in collaboration with Louis Vuitton titled “Beautiful Resistance”.

Daniel is published in a myriad of publications including Vogue US, Architectural Digest, Rollingstone

UK ,Financial Times, Okay Africa, ID Magazine, Hunger Magazine, Maire Claire SA, Atmos Magazine, Boy Brother Friend, Dazed, amongst others.

Nora Awolowo (@noraawolowo)

Nora Awolowo is a Nigerian photographer, cinematographer, filmmaker and Visual Storyteller. She’s a renowned creative widely acclaimed for her unique Storytelling skills that brings ideas to life and gives color and depth to otherwise bland ideas that allow people to connect with the message in a deeper, more meaningful way.

Nora started out as a creative photographer using mobile phones to capture beautiful portraits. Over the years, Nora has grown and built her brand as a reputable filmmaker and Visual Storyteller. 

Nora recently directed the first FIFA original documentary that focuses on Nigeria Debut into the world cup in 1994, and worked on Dr Sid’s directorial debut as the Director Of Photography for THE ORDER OF THINGS.

The short films and documentaries produced by Nora and her team at Rixel Studios have been screened at international film festivals.

She has worked on several high-profile projects with reputable brands like Netflix, Nat Geo, Tecno, Sterling Bank, Zero Degrees, Duplo, Mastercard Foundation, Chipper Cash, Leadway Pensure, Zebra Stripes Network, Action Aid International, Visa Nigeria, GitHub, and other topnotch organizations.

Visual Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to put bland ideas into the world today. I want to use visual storytelling as a tool to inspire the world and make impacts. My dream is to intentionally get better at what I do, work on global projects, and be one of the best Cinematographers to come out of Nigeria and Africa. As a woman, there are no rules, it is possible!“. 

Joey Lit (@joey_lit)

Jonathan Coffie, popularly known as Joey Lit, was born on August 28, 1995 in Tema, Ghana. As the Co-founder, Designer and Artistic Director of Free The Youth, he has built the brand to become one of the biggest streetwear labels in West Africa.

From 2014-2018, Joey went to school for Electrical Engineering and later worked for the military for his national service. While in school he began to dabble in fashion design, styling and creative direction before working as a creative full time and using the power of his brand and digital community. With his style, authenticity and creativity, Joey Lit has worked with numerous organizations and brands across the world including Virgil Abloh, Nike, Facebook, Sony Music and United Nation, Wizkid amongst others. Through fashion and design, Joey’s mission is to create a space for young African creatives globally.