A Namibian fashionista, a South African music phenom, a Zambian swimmer, a Cabo Verdean basketballer and a Zimbabwean entrepreneur.
These are some of the trailblazers from Southern Africa who are on the Forbes Africa 30 list, which honours people under the age of 30 who are making waves in their chosen fields.
So dominant is Southern Africa on the continental list that 18 of the 30 names on it are from the region.
“The Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 list is our most coveted list of the year, and what makes this year’s compilation even more compelling is the fighting spirit of the candidates who made it through a turbulent year. They need to be honoured for their tenacity as leaders charting a non-linear trajectory to success, and they are also representative of Africa’s greater talent trove that they will in turn help shine a light on,” said Ranuka Methil, MD of Forbes Africa.
Among honourees this year is Reinhard Mahalie, a Namibian fashion stylist.
Also on it are South African social media influencer and digital creative Mihlali Ndamase; the founder and CEO of Tsumbo Scott Incorporated Deborah Mutemwa, Zimbabwe’s Shakemore Timburwa; “Jerusalema” hit-maker Master KG, Springboks rugby star Siya Kolisi; Zambian swimmer Tilka Paljk; and Cabo Verdean basketballer Antonio Depina.
On social media, Master KG said: “I just keep getting better! Friday I dropped a new song with David Guetta and Akon already it’s on millions of streams and charting across the globe and yesterday I was part of Forbes Africa under 30. Thank you GOD.”
Ndamase Mihlali said: “I am from a very small town. I never imagined I would be on Forbes Africa at the age of 24. I am excited to use this platform to grow my business, to inspire more lives, to touch more lives through my Siyasizana Foundation and to continue to make amazing boss moves. I am so happy and my heart is filled with so much gratitude.”
This was in reference to his single “Shine Your Light”, on which he collaborated with international music giants Akon and David Guetta. The song is charting across the globe with close to one million views on various streaming services.
Keeping up with the times, Forbes Africa also honoured Julio Bianchi and Thabo Moloi, who become the first e-sports athletes ever in the compilation. They are also the youngest entrants on the list.
“I think it’s pretty interesting for this young generation. In many ways, this is a pioneering generation that has had to face Covid, a pandemic of this dimension. We’re looking at a list of young people who have been change makers, who want to make a difference no matter what setbacks come their way,” Methil said.
Hayze Engolah also made history by becoming the first Malawian musician to make it on the Forbes Africa list.
The Blantyre-based artist said, “I just take a lot of pride being the first musician to appear on that list. It gives me great pride that a lot of other young Malawians can follow suit and aspire for great things. It feels great being on the Forbes list. It just shows how much effort we have been putting into making a difference in our country.
“It’s a serious pat on our back and hopefully it inspires more other people. At least the world can appreciate and admire that Malawi is much more than daily politics and poverty.”
There were over 1,000 potential honourees this year, and the Forbes editorial team, working with a panel of judges, whittled it down using its own criteria.
The class of 2021 marked the seventh year that Forbes celebrated Africa’s young achievers.Reporting by Thando Mnkandhla in Windhoek & Colleta Dewa in Johannesburg