As Nigeria celebrates it’s 63 years of Independence, there may be a need to reflect on our challenges setbacks and failures, however more importantly is the need to celebrate those that have continued to achieve successes despite these challenges.
From our rich food, to music, films, fashion, arts and entrepreneurship, there are notable Nigerians that have continued to represent the country in other parts of the world through their creativity, talents and performances.
BD weekender, therefore painstakingly selected 52 people across these sectors who have continued to show the positive side of the country.
Join us as we take you through the list.
Food is one of the many things Nigeria is known for. There are diverse delicacies all over the country, thanks to the diverse ethnic groups and cultures. Nigerian delicacies are also gaining global attention. This can be credited to the top successful chefs in Nigeria and those taking the food business beyond Nigeria.
In this article, BD Weekender profiles five successful people helping put Nigerian food in the global map.
Hilda Baci has entered list of successful chefs in Nigeria following her remarkable achievement to break a five-year record of the longest cooking marathon by an individual, with a time of 93 hours and 11 minutes. Hilda Effiong Bassey, better known as Hilda Baci, broke the previous record of 87 hours 45 minutes set by Lata Tondon (India) in 2019.
Chef Obehi Ekhomu-El Herfi, popularly known as Chef Obehi, is an international chef with valuable experience in cooking different delicacies from countries worldwide. Her brand, ONA Restaurant, is known for transforming regular staple ingredients in Nigerian diets into delicious delicacies. Obehi’s signature dish is snails, earning her the name, Queen of Snails.
Funso Akinya is the founder of Akara House in New York, America.
Akinya’s Akara House offers a new type of Veggie Burger with popular Nigerian recipe ‘Akara’ taking a major chunk of the burger. It’s a little Nigerian and a little American.
At Akara House, US and non US citizens living in New York can indulge in the flavours of Nigeria with exquisite breakfast featuring ogi ‘pap’ and Akara fritters.
Olusegun Akande and Oyetola Akande are Nigerian couple who both studied chemical engineering but found their purpose in selling African foods on a large scale in UK.
The couple founded Samis Online, an Afro-Caribbean retail and e-commerce food business in 2011. Samis Online has since evolved and diversified to delivering all kinds of African foods and groceries including dry goods, fresh meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, amongst others through its chain of businesses which include and not limited to physical wholesale store, mini store, restaurant and online shopping platform.
Nigerian music generally started gaining remarkable traction internationally from 2015 with hit singles like ‘IF’ and ‘Fall’ by Davido, ‘Ojuelegba’ by Wizkid and ‘Ye’ by Burna Boy – leading the Nigerian sound into international dominance.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country which translates into great streaming numbers for recording artistes. There is no better way to exploit these numbers as a foreign artiste than to collaborate with Nigerian artistes. Thus, the latter get international recognition while the foreign artistes gain streaming numbers from the African music market.
Fireboy DML became the first Nigerian Pop artiste to perform at the 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium as he performed the remix of his hit single ‘Peru’ at Ed Sheeran’s concert.
International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) disclosed that Sub-Saharan Africa generated $70.1m of revenues from recorded music in 2021 while Dataxis predicts that Africa’s annual music streaming revenues will grow from $92.9m in 2021 to $314.6m by 2026, albeit warning that internet penetration rates will be the main ceiling on this growth. “Streaming cannot go faster than infrastructure”, the report said.
Globally, Nigerian music is growing in popularity, too. Streaming data on local genres exported across the globe reveals that 30 percent of Nigeria’s Alté genre is being streamed in the US, with a growth of more than 200 percent over the past year. Additionally, over 40 percent of Afropop from Nigeria is streamed in the US, UK and France.
BD Weekender lists 12 Nigerian musicians that have continued to give Nigeria global recognition.
They include Davido, Tems, Burna Boy, Rema, Wizkid, Dbanj, Tiwa Savage, Kizz Daniel, Asake, Fire Boy, Arya star and Mohbad.
Nigerian movies have continued to gain traction across Nigeria with producers putting in their best to ensure Nigerian movies are not just recognized in Nigeria but across the world.
Below are three movie producers that have made Nigerian movies climb the ranks of global recognition and seven actors and actresses that have successfully taken their acting skills beyond the shores of Nigeria.
Femi Adebayo, who produced the recent award winning ‘Jagun Jagun’ (The Warrior), easily comes to mind. The epic film swiftly climbed the ranks of global recognition within a mere seven days of its debut.
The film’s meteoric rise is underscored by its impressive fifth-place position on the non-English global charts, a testament to its engaging storyline and exceptional execution.
Barely a week after its release, it already left an indelible mark on the streaming landscape. As of August 15, 2023, viewing data reveals an astounding 2.1 million hours spent engrossed in its narrative on the renowned streaming platform Netflix. This feat, coupled with its rapid ascent in popularity, places the movie in a league of its own.
Another producer making the country proud is Funke Ayotunde Akindele. Her ‘Battle on Buka Street‘ movie recently grossed over N650 million. It also made the filmmaker one of the highest-earning in the industry.
Vincent Okonkwo’s VSL Media is ranked at number six with two films, ‘Passport’ by Dimeji Ajibola and ‘The WildFlower (N41.4m) by Biodun Steven with Toyin Abraham as its lead cast.
Released in September of 2022, Passport made N87 million while ‘The WildFlower’ raked over N41.4 million.
The successes in the movie industry will however be incomplete without mentioning some top Nigerian stars have successfully taken their acting skills beyond the shores of Nigeria,and featured in foreign movies.While most of them did not play the lead role in these movies,they still put up a good performance.
These include Olu Jacobs, Richard Mofe Damijo, Stephanie Okereke Linus, Genevieve Nnaji, Jim Iyke, Omotola Jalade and Osas Ighodaro.
The Nigerian fashion industry has grown over the years, with its footprint expanding in the global landscape despite major challenges facing operators in the country.
Despite the challenging business environment, Nigeria has produced designers and entrepreneurs that are putting the country on a global map.
The country is not only known for its many homegrown textiles and garment pieces; it has also produced top fashion designers who have developed many techniques and businesses along the way.
Nigerian fashion has become famously known for its alluring and stunning Ankara designs, Kente cloths, and traditional African prints.
Today’s Nigerian fashion trends range from men sporting Dashikis to women wearing stylish maxi dresses. Numerous Nigerian fashion brands have set the bar for Nigeria’s fashion culture, which often includes dynamic and eye-catching attire of vibrant and bold colors implemented into unique designs and distinctive patterns.
Over time, Nigerian fashion has gained traction internationally, especially due to the influence of celebrated Nigerian fashion designers along with top Nigerian trendsetters, the country’s trendiest influencers and pop stars, have showcased their styles through a reflection that represents the most popular styles and cultures of Nigeria.
Below are 10 key personalities that have distinguished themselves in the Nigerian fashion industry.
Lexy Mojo-Eyes, founder first Nigeria Fashion Show was held in 1997; Ronke Ademiluyi, founder, Africa Fashion Week, a project that promotes African fashion designers; Sola Oyebade, founder, Fashion Finest Africa UK & Nigeria; Lanre Da Silva Ajayi, founder of eponymous design label; Ade Bakare, one of Nigeria’s most exquisite fashion designers known for creating captivating designs and Folake Folarin-Coker, Nigerian fashion designer and creative director of Tiffany Amber.
Others include Zizi Cardow, a forerunner in contemporary African fashion; Ejiro Amos Tafiri, a Nigerian fashion designer and originator of Ejiro Amos Tafiri (E.A.T) brand; Deola Sagoe, haute couture fashion designer and Lisa Folawiyo founder of the label, Jewel by Lisa.
Nigeria has a vibrant art scene, and art curators play a crucial role in promoting and preserving Nigerian art.
These curators are dedicated individuals who work tirelessly to showcase the rich cultural heritage of the country.
BD Weekender, in this article profiles five Nigerian top art curators and their contributions to the art world.
Bisi Silva, a renowned Nigerian art curator, was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. Through her work, she provided a platform for emerging Nigerian artists to showcase their talent and gain exposure. She consistently worked towards bridging the gap between local artists and the international art world.
In addition, Silva actively advocated for the inclusion of African art in major art institutions worldwide.One her most notable curated exhibitions was “J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere: Moments of Beauty” in 2014.
Okwui Enwezor has played a significant role in promoting contemporary Nigerian artists and bringing their work to international prominence. He curated major exhibitions like “The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa” and “Documenta 11.”
Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi began as a curator at the National Museum, Lagos, where he curated various exhibitions that showcased Nigerian art to a wider audience.
His work at the National Museum laid the foundation for his career, enabling him to explore new heights and make noteworthy contributions to the Nigerian art scene. One of his notable exhibitions was “Enwonwu and Chike Aniakor: Masters of Nigerian Modernism” held at the Hood Museum of Art.
Kennen Anyabuike is a renowned art curator in Nigeria. Anyabuike has been instrumental in promoting emerging artists and exposing their work to both local and international audience. He curated exhibitions that showcased traditional Nigerian art forms alongside contemporary works.
Temi Coker is a renowned Nigerian art curator that has made significant contributions to the growth of the Nigerian art scene. One of his notable achievements was the “Nigerian Modernist Masters” exhibition, which showcased the works of renowned Nigerian artists from the early 20th century.
In collaboration with international art institutions, Coker organized a groundbreaking exhibition titled “Contemporary Nigerian Art: A Global Perspective.”
Top entrepreneurs/Business owners:
Despite economic downturn that has consistently ravaged the country, some entrepreneurs have stood out and continued to contribute hugely to the country’s economy.
From humble beginnings, these entrepreneurs turned around their fortune with the right mix of intelligence, ambition, determination, and perseverance.
Long before Nigeria’s economic boom, their stories of hardship, labour and success set new benchmarks, and serve as an inspiration to everyone.
These 10 top Nigerian entrepreneurs have continued to reap the benefits of having built successful businesses that are currently worth billions of naira.
Aliko Dangote, owner of the ‘Dangote Group,’ the largest cement and sugar producer in Africa; Mike Adenuga, owner, Globacom and Conoil Producing;
Femi Otedola, Nigerian businessman, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and chairman of Forte Oil PLC, an importer of fuel products; Folorunso Alakija, vice chair of Famfa Oil, a Nigerian oil exploration company with a stake in Agbami Oilfield, a prolific offshore asset. Famfa Oil’s partners include Chevron and Petrobras; Abdul Samad Rabiu, the founder of BUA Group, a Nigerian conglomerate active in sugar refining, cement production, real estate, logistics, and port operations and Theophilus Danjuma, the founder of oil exploration company South Atlantic Petroleum (SAPETRO), which owns upstream assets in Nigeria, Republic of Benin, the Central African Republic and Madagascar.
Other rich entrepreneurs and business owners include Tony Elumelu, the chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transcorp and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation; Orji Uzor Kalu, chairman of SLOK Holding and the former governor of Abia State; Jim Ovia, Nigerian businessman and founder of Zenith Bank one of the largest commercial banks in Nigeria and Oba Otudeko, founder and chairman of Honeywell Group and chairman of FBN Holdings Plc.