SEATTLE — Being taken seriously as a youth can be difficult in any part of the world but especially in vulnerable areas. However, these three young influential African leaders present the possibilities of just how much of an impact the leaders of the next generation can make.
3 Young Influential African Leaders
- Haneefah Adam
Haneefah Adam is a medical scientist from Nigeria, but this twenty-something is known for something else entirely. While scrolling through the Barbie Style Instagram page, Adam realized that there is not enough representation for Muslim women. She thought this was true particularly for Muslim women who wear hijabs. Adam then created an Instagram page called Hijarbie, a new Barbie designed for modern Muslim women and young girls to feel better represented. This project was also aimed to help dismantle the negative stereotype that some Muslim women receive for choosing to wear a hijab. The Hijarbie Instagram page now has more than 75,000 followers and has received global attention for helping young Muslim women feel more accepted.
- Christopher Ategeka
Christopher Ategeka is originally from a rural town in Uganda, which had no health care access while he was growing up. Because of this, both of his parents died after being diagnosed with AIDS and his brother died of malaria at the age of 4. Ategeka had the chance to be involved in a program that sent young orphans to a local school and to receive a college education. Because of his education and the traumatic experiences he had as a child, Ategeka was influenced to create CA Bikes, a nonprofit organization that recruits midwives, doctors and nurses to work in areas with little to no health care access. CA Bikes has been highly successful and thanks to Ategeka, about 10,000 people in Uganda have received faster and more efficient health care. He has received numerous awards for his influential work, including being named in the 30 Under 30 list by Forbes.
- Lebogang Maruapula
Lebogang Maruapula was raised by a single mother in Botswana, which first influenced her to be an advocate for other women. Maruapula is a regional ambassador for Girl Rising, an organization that advocates for equal opportunities for young women. She is also the co-founder of The Goddess Foundation which focuses on encouraging women empowerment through education and mentorship. Maruapula aims to help underprivileged young women through the Goddess Sanitary Pad Drive, which provides feminine hygiene products for girls with no access to these products. She has also worked with the U.N. as a United Nations Online Volunteer and an activist at UNICEF’s Pacific’s Youth Media. Due to her volunteer work with these organizations, Maruapula became a fellow for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders and earned the title as World Economic Forum Global Shaper in 2014.
These three young and influential African leaders prove how impactful one’s decisions can be. Youth from unprivileged areas and traumatic childhoods influenced them to make a difference in their community and beyond. Due to their intelligent minds and courageous behaviors, these individuals have made a positive impact for other youth in African countries and around the globe.
– Maddison Hines