Who/What did we Celebrate in Africa in 2014?

Beji Caid Essebsi, new President of Tunisia
Beji Caid Essebsi, new President of Tunisia

Like every year, I have to tell you about the good things that happen in Africa, and all the things we celebrated. Here are 10 of them.

1. I have to say it again: Blaise Compaore’s demotion. Blaise Compaoré was booted out of office in 2014. Thomas Sankara‘s murderer taught that he will be eternal in power, and on October 30th 2014, the people of Burkina Faso said ENOUGH!

2. Presidential Elections finally took place in Tunisia, 3 years after Ben Ali‘s toppling at the beginning of the ‘Arab Spring’, and the election of the people’s choice as president: Beji Caid Essebsi. We are glad the people of Tunisia’s choice was respected.

Some members of the South African Team - MTN Qhubeka(Source: bicycling.co.za)
Some members of the South African Team – MTN Qhubeka(Source: bicycling.co.za)

3. Mrs Catherine Samba-Panza was sworn in as interim president of the Central African Republic on 23 January 2014. She was chosen as a neutral person to lead the country of the conflict that rages in the area; she is the first woman appointed in such a position in the history of the country.

4. For the first time in the history of Cycling, there was an African team competing in a great race. 6 Africans (two Erithreans and 4 South Africans) ran in Spain for the South African team, MTN-Qhubeka.

5. Two African teams advancing into the last round of 16 at the Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup for the first time in the history of the FIFA World Cup: namely, Nigeria and Algeria. Even though both teams were eliminated in the last round of 16, Algeria particularly put up a good fight against Germany (who went on to win the World Cup) and made us proud.

6. The African version of Robocop designed by two female engineers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of them being Thérèse Inza.  This is a traffic cop who regulates the traffic, and even gives tickets to the cab drivers, and those who do not want to follow the code of the road.

Lupita Nyong'o
Lupita Nyong’o

7. There were 3 Africans nominated at the Oscars in main categories this year: Chiwetel Ejiofor(Nigeria) in the ‘Best Actor’ category, Barkhad Abdi (Somalia) in the ‘Best Actor in a Supporting role’ category and Lupita Nyong’o (Kenya) in the ‘Best Actress in a Supporting role’ category. Lupita made us proud by winning the Academy Award for ‘Best Actress in a Supporting role’ for her role in 12 Years a Slave. She was also named the ‘Most beautiful Woman’ by People magazine (I never really understood that People Magazine award: as if they had searched through the 3.5Billion women in the world before giving this award!) and ‘Woman of the Year’ in Glamour, and was announced as the ‘New Face’ of Lancôme, a first for a Black woman.

8. Nigeria became Africa’s # 1 economy after rebasing its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 1990 to 2010 constant prices. Nigeria just surpassed South Africa as Africa’s top economy, and the world’s 26th largest economy.

9. U.S President Barack Obama hosts 50 African Heads of State and government officials at the historic US-Africa Leaders Summit.

George Weah
George Weah

10. George Weah, the only African to have won a FIFA World Player of the Year (in 1995) and won Ballon d’Or, won a senate seat in Liberia yesterday Dec. 29th. The 2005 presidential contender (he had won the first round of the elections then) of Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf won the senate elections against Robert Sirleaf (President Johnson-Sirleaf’s son). This was a landslide victory; it is a step forward, and progress is always to be acclaimed!

Africans at the 2014 Academy Awards (The Oscars)

The Oscars
The Oscars

I couldn’t help but notice the number of Africans or actors of African origin represented at this year’s Academy Awards.  So I decided to give you an overview, before Sunday March 2nd.  I think this is the most we have ever had Africans nominated in such key roles, and who could possibly win key awards.

Chiwetel Ejiofor
Chiwetel Ejiofor

For starters, in the ‘Best actor’ category, our Nigerian-British brother Chiwetel Ejiofor has been nominated for his outstanding performance as Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave, for which he won a Golden Globe nomination, and a BAFTA award for best actor.  Ejiofor faces fierce competition against Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club), Christian Bale (American Hustle), and Bruce Dern (Nebraska) in the Best Actor category.  Whatever the outcome, I am extremely proud for this actor I have seen growing on screen since his first big appearance in the Steven Spielberg movie Amistad, to his great performance in Spike Lee‘s Inside Man playing alongside Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, and Jodie Foster.

Barkhad Abdi
Barkhad Abdi

In the ‘Best actor in a supporting role’ category, Somali-American actor Barkhad Abdi has been nominated for his performance in Captain Phillips, which is his first cinematic work.  His performance as a ship hijacker and pirate leader won him several nominations from the Screen Guild, and Golden Globe awards; he has also won a BAFTA award for best supporting actor for this performance.  We wish him the very best against Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave), Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street), and Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club).

Lupita Nyong'o
Lupita Nyong’o

In the ‘Best Actress in a Supporting Role’ category comes the stunning Kenyan Lupita Nyong’o nominated for her portrayal of Patsey in 12 Years a Slave.  A Yale graduate, and a Kenyan actress (in the Kenyan series Shuga) and producer (of a documentary on the albino population in Kenya), 12 Years a Slave is Lupita’s first American film debut, and has already garnered her a Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations.  Lupita won the Screen Actors Guild and Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for this performance.  Imagine my joy when I will see a pure African beauty walk the red carpet on Sunday!  No matter the outcome, I am just so proud of this gorgeous sister who will face fierce competition from Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle), Julia Roberts (August: Osage County), and June Squibb (Nebraska) on Sunday.  I must admit that she just reminds of a pure Luo (or Massai) beauty when she wears her hair really short!

Africa
Africa

Other Africans represented are Egyptians director Jehane Noujaim and producer Karim Amer for the documentary The Square on the manifestations at Tahrir Square.  This film was released on Netflix, thereby giving Netflix its first Oscar nomination.

I am just extremely proud of our brothers and sisters who are raising the African flag high at this year’s academy awards.  Our prayers go with them, and we wish them the very best.  We, Africans, have actors and actresses worthy of the greatest cinematographic accolade in the world!!!