In celebration of Black History Month (BHM), WorldRemit wants to recognize the incredible contributions of Africans in the U.S., so we have launched the Inaugural Top ten most influential Africans in the diaspora list. The purpose of the list is to honor the achievements and contributions migrant Africans have made in America, and what an incredible list we have compiled!
Our honorees hail from Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Kenya and Liberia. Each of the honorees has made significant contributions in professions ranging from medicine, entertainment, the arts, fashion, academia and health.
Check out this incredible list, congratulate the honorees, and share with your networks, including the hashtags #BlackHistoryMonth, #WorldRemitBHM and #BHM.
Halima Aden – Kenyan born Somalian
Fashion Model and Unicef Ambassador
Somali-American model Halima Aden was born in Kakuma, a refugee camp in Kenya after her family fled the civil war in Somalia. In 2016, Aden received national media attention after competing in the Miss USA state pageant, wearing a hijab and sporting a burkini in the swimsuit portion of the competition — a first in the 65-year history of the event.
In 2018, Halima became an official UNICEF ambassador, focusing on children’s rights.
Saran Kaba Jones – Liberia
Social Entrepreneur and Clean Water Advocate
As a child, Saran Kaba Jones was forced to flee Liberia due to the civil war. After a trip back as a young adult, she became a clean water advocate and social entrepreneur. She is the founder of FACE Africa, an organization working to strengthen water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure and services in rural communities across sub-Saharan Africa.
Saran is also a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and a TIME Magazine Next Generation Leader.
Amini Kajunju – DR Congo
Amini Kajunju is Executive Director of the International University of Grand-Bassam (IUGB) Foundation. The Foundation is dedicated to empowering students & helping to develop the necessary resources to make the university a center of excellence for higher education in West Africa. Before this role, Amini was the first African President and CEO of the Africa-America Institute (AAI), the oldest non-profit organization of its kind in the U.S.
In this role, she led the programs in higher education and skills training, including the Future Leaders Legacy Fund, William Tubman AAI Nursing Scholarship, East African Development Bank STEM scholarship fund, and the State of Education in Africa conference. Amini currently serves on the board of Junior Achievement Africa, Education Congo, Walnut Hill School of the Arts, and sits on the advisory committee of the University of South Africa (UNISA).
She was named one of 20 Young Power Women in Africa by Forbes and “Advocate of the Year” by Applause Africa and is a founding member and Vice-President at non-profit AngelAfrica.
Flaviana Matata – Tanzania
Fashion Model and Educational Equality Advocate
Flaviana Matata is a Tanzanian beauty queen, fashion model, philanthropist, and founder of The Flaviana Matata Foundation (FMF) that is committed to using education as a tool to transform the lives of girls in Tanzania.
The Flaviana Matata Foundation (FMF) has reached over 4,500 girls and was founded by Flaviana as a way of giving back to her community. It has grown from providing scholarships and paying for school fees, to supporting the multiple needs of girls so that they can feel safe throughout their entire education, and have the skills and support they need to obtain a job, start a career or launch a business.
Nana Eyeson-Akiwowo – Ghana
Non-Profit Founder & CEO
Ghanaian Nana Eyeson-Akiwowo is on a profound mission. Through her organization African Health Now (AHN), she has been crusading for the last ten years to help bring necessary health information, health care, and resources to Ghanaians and people across Africa.
Nana was working in publishing when her father fell gravely ill in Ghana. After traveling to Ghana to look after him, she experienced first-hand the lack of even basic primary health care.
AHN services communities by transforming local spaces into medical clinics and bringing education and primary health care such as breast exams and dental care to those in need. To date, AHN has impacted over 20,000 people in urban neighborhoods throughout Ghana.
Afam Onyema – Nigeria
Non-Profit Founder & CEO
Afam Onyema graduated cum laude from Harvard University and Stanford Law School and declined lucrative corporate law offers to establish and lead the GEANCO Foundation. Since 2007, GEANCO has been leading surgical missions and supports maternal health in Nigeria.
Its unique scholarship program provides tuition, medical care, and social support to young female victims of terrorism. Supporters include Oprah Winfrey, Chiwetel Ejiofor, David Oyelowo, Chris Rock, Benedict Cumberbatch, Charlize Theron, and The Oscars.
Bennet Omalu – Nigeria
Physician, forensic pathologist, and neuropathologist
Bennet Omalu is a Nigerian-American physician, forensic pathologist, and neuropathologist who was the first to discover and publish findings of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in American football players while working at the Allegheny County coroner’s office in Pittsburgh.
His discovery about CTE was adapted into the blockbuster Hollywood movie Concussion featuring Oscar-nominated actor Will Smith, who played Bennet, the lead character in the movie.
Ger Duany – South Sudan
Actor and Goodwill Ambassador, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
As a young boy Sudanese actor and model Ger Duany, like thousands of others, was forcefully recruited as a child soldier during the Sudanese civil war. At the age of 14, Ger managed to escape to neighboring Ethiopia and was placed in a refugee camp in Kenya before eventually being resettled to the U.S.
Once settled in America, Ger launched a successful career as a Hollywood actor and an international model appearing in many notable films and on the covers of top magazines over the years. Ger was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees covering the East and Horn of Africa. In this role, Ger has elected to focus on youth and education, saying “given a chance, refugee kids excel…”.
Kehinde Wiley – Nigeria
Kehinde is a Nigerian-American portrait painter based in New York City, who is known for his highly naturalistic paintings of black people. He was commissioned in 2017 to paint a portrait of former President Barack Obama for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, which has portraits of all the U.S. presidents.
Wiley’s portrait of Obama was unveiled on February 12, 2018. He is the first black artist in history to paint an official portrait of a president for the National Portrait Gallery.
Olurotimi John Badero – Nigeria
Physician, Interventional cardiologist, interventional nephrologist and cardio-nephrologist
Olurotimi John Badero is a Nigerian-American physician; Interventional cardiologist and Interventional nephrologist who has been recognized as the world’s first and only fully trained cardio-nephrologist (heart and kidney specialist).
Olurotimi Badero was born in Lagos, the seventh of nine children born to Chief Eliab Olufemi Badero and Stella Taiwo Badero. Badero is a church minister and the assistant Pastor of Vine Chapel Church in Mississippi.