See the inspiring profiles of the winners of The Future Awards Africa 2016

Africa’s biggest youth event, The Future Awards Africa came to a triumphant climax on Sunday when it held its annual ceremony, now in its 11th year.

We were introduced to the key players shaping the future in the 105 nominees identified across 21 categories. The event was well attended by Nigeria’s political, cultural, media and entertainment elite. The keynote speech was given by the President Elect of The Republic of Ghana, Dr. Nana Akufo-Addo.

However, there could only be 21 winners.

See the full list and profiles of TFAA winners below:


Somkele Iyamah- Idhalama, 28

Winner, The Future Awards Africa and EbonyLife Prize for Acting

Somkele Iyamah-Idhalama is the face, future of a new Nollywood. She was recognised as a Rising Star by the Toronto International Film Festival for her role in 93 Days. She was arguably the heart and the soul of the heart breaking film that retells the story of how Nigeria overcame Ebola. For the role, she has been nominated for an Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress. She was also a winner of the Africa International Film Festival Special Jury Award, a high honour, for an actress whose filmography is well shy of the length of those she overcame to claim the award. She has appeared in almost every major production to be released in 2016: ‘The Wedding Party’, ‘The Arbitration’ and ‘The Department’.


Adebayo Oke-Lawal, 26

Winner, The Future Awards Africa Prize for Fashion

Not many independent Nigerian designers can claim to have been invited to show at two international fashion weeks, and not many Nigerian designers are Adebayo Oke-Lawal. To be fair, no one is Oke-Lawal. He truly proved this to be the case in the past year. The strength of his designs saw him represent Nigeria alongside four other indigenous labels at the 2015 International Fashion Showcase in London, after which he was invited to show at the world’s leading menswear show: 88th Pitti Uomo under the umbrella of the Constellation Africa project. He rounded out last year with a nomination for the coveted Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy Prize for innovative design. He continued this streak of international acclaim by debuting his Spring and Fall 2016 collections at the inaugural and second South Africa Menswear Weeks, and has become a regular there. 2016’s biggest honour came when Oke-Lawal’s Orange Culture was invited to show at the prestigious London Collections: Men, the first African designer to be accorded this honour. He is the face and future of a nascent African fashion industry.


Theodora Mogo, 24

Winner, The Future Awards Africa Prize for Beauty

It is impossible to talk about the rise of the new wave of beauty in Nigeria without referencing Theodora Mogo. Mogo’s rise through the ranks is even more impressive considering she is self-taught and began her business offering free make up services to her friends and family. In four short years, that humble rolodex has grown to include renowned celebrities like Toke Makinwa, Eku Edewor, Victoria Kimani and Osas Ajibade. In 2016, Mogo expanded her empire, introducing the ‘Beat by Doranne’ master class series, a service that grown to include sessions in Ghana in partnership with Sparkle and Shine and The Beauty Technicians, some of the country’s finest professionals. Partnerships with international brands like Guerlain Paris, Phillips, Vane, BeautyRevNG and Hair by Ucan speaks to Mogo’s growing influence both as an individual and a brand and she uses this influence as a force for good, through awareness campaigns for breast cancer and women led SME’s at the COPE Foundation and WIMBIZ



Winner, The Future Awards Africa Prize for Music 2016

It takes guts to lay claim to the title ‘Mama Africa’ and Yemi Alade, Nigerian performing artist has that in spades. Starting her career in 2005 as part of Noty Spices, an all-girl group, Yemi Alade went solo, won the inaugural edition of the Peak Talent show and got signed to two labels, wresting control of her career with 2014’s stellar King of Queens, spearheaded by the runaway success of Johnny, the album’s first single. After unmitigated success through a series of thought out foreign language cross overs, Yemi Alade put out ‘Mama Africa’ her sophomore album and a joust for the title of most influential female musician in Africa.


Dr. Salihu Dansuki, 29

Winner, The Future Awards Africa Prize for Professional Service

He is the youngest Ph.D holder in Northern Nigeria, having attained the degree at the age of 24. He is in the business of teaching and empowering a generation in his position as Assistant Professor, American University of Nigeria, Africa’s premier development university. His area of concern is Information Systems; having supervised over 15 undergraduate dissertation, 5 Masters Dissertation and currently supervising three PhD students. Not satisfied with impacting the young within university walls, he pursues community development initiatives as well  aimed at promoting mutual understanding and confidence building between 1000 Northern Nigerian Youths, the Police and the Security Agencies of the government in North Eastern Nigeria, specifically, Yola, Adamawa State.


Ifeanyi Orajaka, 28

Winner, The Future Awards Africa Prize for Business 2016 | Endowed by Bank of Industry

Of Nigeria’s challenges, none is as crippling and ednuring as the lack of power. Helping to solve this mammoth problem is Ifeanyi Orajaka, a social entrepreneur and engineer. Ifeanyi seeks to bridge the supply and distribution chasm that kept many Nigerians disconnected from power through his company, GVE Projects. He has worked in collaboration with US Power Africa Initiative, IEEE, USADF, USAID, GE, DFID, GIZ, Bank of Industry Nigeria, Deloitte, amongst others. His projects have resulted in the creation of cumulative capacity of 500kW, generated 1GWhrs of clean, reliable and affordable electricity impacting 1320 households. His projects have also created 500 jobs, trained 260 young people and created N16 million in wealth for the communities worked in.


Kehinde Paul

Winner, The Future Awards Africa Prize in Sports

The Paralympics were a proving ground for many Nigerian paralympic athletes, often ignored or underfunded in favour of athletes in flashy sports like football and basketball. But Kehinde Paul, Nigerian power-lifter, already an Olympic record holder with his most recent win just two years ago at the Commonwealth games, took yet another opportunity to demand Nigeria’s attention. He dominated the -65kg category at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, winning the gold medal and helping Nigeria place impressively at the games.

He won Gold in Commonwealth games in Glasgow London, won Gold in 2015 IPC powerlifting Asian Open Championship in the Republic of KAZAKHSTAN. Paul also won GOLD in All African games held in Congo Brazzaville 2015 He also won GOLD in 2016 IPC Powerlifting World Cup Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Consistent, excellent and a world record holder, that’s the kind of role model we’re in the business for.


Godwin Benson, 27

Winner, The Future Awards Africa Prize for Education 2016 | Endowed by University of Sussex

He is the founder of Tuteria, an innovative tutoring solution that matches tutors and potential students using an online platform that allows students seek out potential tutors and schedule lessons based on their personal preferences and needs, and opening tutoring to full time and part time tutors. He was one of the top 30 finalists of the Aso Villa Demo Day event held in Abuja where he met with the Presidency, and with Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg who both applauded Tuteria’s contribution to education. He emerged a winner of Facebook’s Africa Innovation Challenge in Education, as well as a recipient of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Award 2016. He was also a winner of the prestigious Innovation Prize for Africa, 2016 as one of the top 10 most innovative ideas in Africa by the Africa Innovation Foundation held in Botswana, as well as the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation 2016 by the Royal Academy, United Kingdom held in London. Before building Tuteria, he founded Transtudent World where he shared academic insights with thousands of students from more than 19 countries, and also authored two eBooks on “How to Study for Exams Without Stress, Fear or Failure” and “How to Get a Job Without Applying Like Everyone Else” which are both widely read by thousands of students and graduates across Africa.



Abiola Olaniran, 27

Winner, The Future Awards Africa Prize for Technology 2016 | Endowed by Intel

Listed in Forbes Africa’s 2015 ‘30 Under 30’ Power List, Olaniran, a former Google Ambassador found Gamsole, a Nigerian-born mobile game production company that creates games inspired by Nigerian history & cultural characters. The company’s first full prototype game to reach mass audiences, Gidi Run, a play on the Olopascenario, has hit a staggering 9 million downloads on the Windows phone playstore. Gamsole also creates games for Android and Java platforms and they have been downloaded over 15 million times on all platforms. The company has also attracted seed funding specifically from Kenyan fund 88mph; who offered venture backing that has now made Olaniran, Nigeria’s highest paid game developer.


Tosin Ajibade, 29

Winner, The Future Awards Africa and EbonyLife Prize for New Media 2016

If it concerns new media, Tosin Ajibade is on top of it, literally. Through the lifestyle and entertainment website, which Ajibade founded in 2008, Tosin breaks the news and offers much needed perspective on pop culture and happenings. But Olorisupergal has transcended the restrictive web formats and flourished on all the new media platforms, especially Instagram and Facebook, reaching thousands through a relentless feed of freshly gleaned information and opinions.  Ajibade uses her influence at home too, convening the inaugural New Media Conference to discuss the challenges and possibilities of doing business and creating sustainable brands through new media platforms. Ajibade also uses her reach to promote causes close to her, including gender equality, embrace of natural hair and sexual assault.


Bidemi Zakariyau, 27

Winner, The Future Awards Africa Prize for Media Enterprise

Bidemi Zakariyau is the brightest star in a saturated galaxy of public relations and media entrepreneurs. Through her boutique public relations brand, LSF PR, Zakariyau has built an international clientele that cuts across consumer markets and industries and  includes Cointreau Africa, Laurent Perrier, Jack Daniels, Remy Martin, Hugo Boss, Ventures Platform. Running a bespoke service that tailors PR and brand management services to match each client’s specific needs and tailor them to Nigeria’s unpredictable socio-economic climate, LSF PR communicates, subtly but effectively.  Zakariyau understands not every brand is multi-million dollar franchise and has created LSF|SME to focus exclusively on small brands and emerging talents seeking guidance and representation in a volatile ecosystem. Zakariyau marries old world values with cutting edge technology, the result a world class service always at the cutting edge.


Asuquo Ekpenyong, 31

Winner, The Future Awards Africa Prize in Public Service

A state commissioner for finance seems like the pinnacle of career in public service but it seems thirty one year old Asuquo Ekpenyong is only getting started. Ekpenyong already has professional expertise as an academic, lecturing at the Banking and Finance Department of the University of Calabar, invaluable field experience as a financial analyst in Lagos. He also enjoyed stints as the Managing Director of Iquasu Ventures Ltd and Chamley Bureau de Change Ltd and a run as the Executive Director for finance at Pearland Energy and Non-Executive Director at Ekondo Microfinance Bank Ltd. This confluence of real world experience and theoretical knowledge is what he brings to governance and policy making at Cross Rivers highest financial office in one of the country’s most trying economic epochs.


Adenrele Sonariwo, 30

Winner, The Future Awards Africa Prize for Arts & Culture 2016

Before 2016, at no time in history was a visual art exhibtion ever held in Nigeria’s seat of power, The Presidency. Adenrele Sonariwo made and broke that record, transforming President Muhammed Buhari’s halls into a cavalcade of Nigeria’s trailblazing visual art talent. A former accountant, who worked in PriceWaterHouseCoopers for over half a decade in the U.S.A, she is the founder of contemporary art space, Rele Gallery. Through her work, she is building a new generation and market of art enthusiasts, collectors, followers for visual art. The gallery is also known for incubating and discovering young artistic talent and has exhibited in Art Hamptons, an international art fair in New York. In just over a year and a half of existing, the gallery and Sonariwo’s work has been profiled by global publications such as Financial Times, Forbes Africa and Vogue.



Evans Akanno, 27

The Future Awards Africa Prize for Creative Professional 2016

What do you do with a decade of combined experience in digital design, marketing and startups? If you’re Evans Akanno, you take a breath and plunge right in with yet another design agency. Looking for a fresh challenge, Akanno started Lagos based design agency, Cregital to provide digital solutions for businesses looking to capitalize on growing digital markets, and providing creative services and web products for individuals and organizations. Cregital helps brands make smart impressions. Launched in April 2015, the company already has in its portfolio work for high profile clientele such as Africa Magic, Africa Courier Express, Zenith Bank and Globe Motors. In 2016, Cregital organised a training on web design under its educational arm, Cregital Academy. The company also won the ‘Best Web Development Company of the Year’ category at this year’s Nigerian Technology Awards.


Bukola Bolarinwa, 28

Winner, The Future Awards Africa Prize for Advocacy 2016 | Endowed by Guinness

Bolarinwa is at the head of the fight against generational transfers of the sickle cell gene through her position as the president of Sickle Cell Aid Foundation (SCAF). The foundation which was created to improve awareness on Sickle Cell Disorder (SCD) has grown to be a recognised advocacy organisation in Nigeria. SCAF offers free genotype testing, awareness and counselling the six area council of the FCT. She also initiated the SCAFlympics, which promotes good health practices among Sickle cell warriors and draws attention to the physical limitations sickle cell eventually imposes on sufferers. In 2016, Bukola was selected for the Queen Elizabeth’s Young Leaders Programme in recognition of her work encouraging thousands of new people to give blood.


Julius Adewopo, 31

Winner, The Future Awards Africa Prize in Agriculture

Adewopo is currently leading a new frontier for agricultural development and facilitating partnerships to broaden opportunities for farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, implementing the geospatial aspects of a $12 Million project funded by Gates Foundation which is focused on improving the maize yield among African smallholder farmers.  He is also co-leading the Africa-wide Weather Data Initiative, which is currently being piloted in Nigeria. Adewopo was appointed by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a reviewer for the competitive Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant. Also, in recognition of his unparalleled expertise, he was enlisted by the globally renowned Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) to evaluate the institute’s staff research portfolio.


Adeola Osunkojo, 30

Winner, The Future Awards and EbonyLife Prize for Screen Producer

Adeola Osunkojo is a Television/Film Writer, Producer and Director. She started her career as a teen actress, playwright and dancer and years later, served as a Content Director on MTN’S Project Fame West Africa for 6 seasons. She has since directed Television Drama Series like Tales of Eve, So Wrong So Wright, Binary Unit and the popular The Diary of A Nigerian Couple on Ebony Life TV which she also created, wrote and produced to rave reviews. The Life of a Nigerian Couple” was included in the first African Short Film Festival, hosted by the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University in September 2016.
She also recently directed Ndani TV’s “Rumour Has it”. Her movie directorial credits include – The Date and One Spice at A Time which aired on Ebony Life TV in 2014. In addition to shows and movies, she also directed Viral videos for the Always #MyFutureStartsToday for Procter & Gamble. and the Copa Coca Cola project with JJ Okocha. A passionate believer in Nollywood, she is a speaker who has been part of industry panels like “Innovention Roundtable” by Verdant Zeal, “Lagos Startup Week “and more. She is also passionate about women in film and lent her voice to the Women in film documentary, Amaka’s Kin directed by Tope Oshin
She is currently working on a reality show with Ebony Life TV, a documentary on the Nigerian Coup of ‘76, a feature length movie, the second season of The Life of a Nigerian Couple and conception of other television shows.
Adeola bagged her first and second degrees in Theatre Arts (Directing Major) from the University of Lagos and is at the early stage of her PHD in Film Studies at the same University, where she is studying the concept of a New Wave in history which is considered New Nollywood.

Chika Oduah, 30

Winner, The Future Awards Africa and EbonyLife Prize for Journalism

From her base in Nigeria, she has worked for France24 as an international correspondent reporter since January 2015 and has worked as a producer and reporter for Al Jazeera since August 2013. The Medill School of Journalism and Georgia State University alumnus is a 2015 Finalist of the Livingston Young Journalist Award and the 2015 African Story Challenge Winner and Grant Recipient. In 2016, her article ‘The App That Saved 1,000 Children’ won in the Dow Technology & Innovation Reporting Award at the 2016 CNN African Journalist Award. The story focused on 24-year-old Nigerian computer enthusiast named Hamzat Lawal’s app that saved children in Bagega from dying from lead contamination. Chika reports from the human angle, capturing the human impact of the issues that affect people’s daily lives and have collaborated with Al Jazeera stories around the world to reporting on global projects.


Bolanle Olukanni, 27

Winner, The Future Awards Africa Prize for On Air Personality (Visual)

Olukanni, a Communications and International Studies graduate from Loyola University Chicago shot into the limelight after she won ‘Search for Mo’s Co-host’ competition in 2013. Her prize landed her a co-hosting job on ‘Moments with Mo’ alongside Mo Abudu and Dolapo Oni. Now rebranded ‘Moments’, she still co-hosts the Nigerian show alongside Toke Makinwa and Michelle Dede on EbonyLife TV.Bolanle has interviewed influential personalities such as Oscar-nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, Grammy-award winning singer Brandy, Lagos State Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, and does red carpet interviews at Nigeria’s most glamorous events.


Ayo Thompson, 30

Winner, The Future Awards Africa Prize for On Air Personality (audio)

As the host of  Nigerian Info FM ‘The Woman,’ a weekly show that focuses on the Nigerian woman and everything that makes them phenomenal, Ayo Thompson gets to promote and uplift women distinguishing themselves in their various fields. This is a task she’s taken very seriously, drawing from a wide pool of seemingly ordinary to widely celebrated women and engaging each equally for their personal contributions to their communities, their country and women in general.  Prior to that role, she was a co-host of the popular Breakfast Show on 99.3, Nigeria Info FM ‘Morning Crossfire’ where she garnered a wide following. She is one of our generation’s leading voices on air.


Mark Okoye, 30

Winner, The Future Awards Africa Prize for Young Person of the Year

Mark Okoye is the key player in regenerating the Anambra state economy and a sterling example for a generation typically averse to public service. At thirty years old, he became the youngest member of the Governor Obiano-led cabinet in 2016 and one of the youngest government officials in the country. Okoye brings tenure as a senior member of the investment banking division at Afrinvest (West Africa) Limited where he was instrumental in executing numerous capital raising and financial advisory transactions to his new position, leaving  an illustrious investment banking career, to join the Anambra State Economic Think-Tank. This led to his appointment as Special Adviser to Governor Obiano on economic planning, budget and investments in 2015. His role involves him running the day-to-day activities of the Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget. In addition, he has operational and strategic oversight over Anambra State Investment Promotion & Protection Agency. The Harvard Kennedy School and Euromoney, Dubai alumnus has experience in governance, policy formulation, public sector financing, public budget analysis and corporate finance. He is undoubtedly shaping the future and economic wellbeing of our great country.