Africa’s first Nobel laureate in Literature leads the way at UP-hosted African Genius Awards

Posted on May 27, 2022

Acclaimed Nigerian playwright and novelist Professor Wole Soyinka was among the winners at the 2022 African Genius Awards recently hosted at the University of Pretoria’s (UP) Future Africa Institute.

As Africa’s first Nobel laureate in Literature, Prof Soyinka was one of several highly regarded thought leaders who was honoured at the awards, which recognise exceptional Africans who are committed to Africa’s development, and who are working to advance the continent’s competitiveness and problem-solving skills.

The awards are a partnership between UP, market research company Plus 94 Research and project facilitation firm Priority Performance Projects. This year, 31 finalists were shortlisted from a group of 69 candidates, who were nominated by the public and the Adjudication Committee.

Other winners at the second annual event, which was held on Africa Day on 25 May, included Kenyan writer Prof Ngugi wa Thiong’o – who is considered East Africa’s leading novelist and whose book Weep Not, Child (1964) was the first major novel in English by an East African writer – and Prof Ali Mazrui, a Kenyan-born American academic, professor and political writer who is a renowned expert on African and Islamic studies, and North-South relations.

“Africa is an amazing continent with so much potential,” said Dr Sifiso Falala, CEO of Plus 94 Research and Priority Performance Projects. “I personally congratulate all our geniuses and achievers. We are pleased by the number of outstanding achievers. It shows us where we all need to shine the light, this being where such pockets of excellence exist.”

Other outstanding African achievers who received awards were:

  • Dr Akinwumi Adesina (Nigeria), President of the African Development Bank, who previously served as Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development
  • Dr David Moinina Sengeh (Sierra Leone), Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education and Chief Innovation Officer for the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation in Sierra Leone
  • Dr Ngalula Sandrine Mubenga (DRC), an engineer, professor of electrical engineering technology, entrepreneur, philanthropist and government official leading the electrification initiative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu (Ethiopia), founder and Executive Director of SoleRebels, Africa’s “fastest-growing footwear company”
  • Prof Joseph-Achille Mbembe (Cameroon), a research professor in History and Politics at the Wits Institute for Social and Economy Research at the University of the Witwatersrand
  • Kelvin Doe (Sierra Leone), a self-taught engineer who build a radio station in Sierra Leone
  • Paulin J Hountondji (Benin), a philosopher, politician and academic who specialises in the history of African philosophy
  • Prof Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba (Kenya), an advocate of the high courts of Kenya and Tanzania, law lecturer at the University of Nairobi, and Director of the Kenya School of Laws
  • Nana Kwame Bediako (Ghana), industrialist, philanthropist and real estate entrepreneur
  • Runcie CW Chidebe (Nigeria), oncology researcher, cancer control advocate and psychologist
  • Vusi Thembekwayo (SA), a businessman, global speaker, author and CEO of MyGrowthFund Venture Partners

Dr Falala said the awards aim to provide a solid foundation on which to inspire, direct and build, and that the 2022 awards have provided an invaluable sense of the types of leaders that the continent has. “With such incredible talent, African global subservience should be a thing of the past.”

Published by Hlengiwe Mnguni

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