Haile & Liya among most influential Africans
Haile Gebreselassie and Liya Kebede have made it to NewAfrican magazine’s 100 most influential people of Africa for 2011, “who are shaping the face of Africa as well as global opinion about what Africa and Africans can achieve”.
The magazine that is billed as ‘the bestselling Pan-African magazine’ with monthly circulation of 220,000, handed down the honors to the top influencers, opinion-shapers, doers, agitators, ground breakers and myth-busters in its June issue. The decision followed weeks of discussion and debate among the magazine editors, staff members and broad numbers of contacts.
“The athlete who never tires. He is an emblem of the world class African sports personality, who helped cement the reputation of Africans as the greatest long-distance runners of all time,” Regina Jere-Malanda, the magazine’s deputy editor, said as she announced the magazine’s 2011 selections of Haile. “He continues to win races and more importantly, today he also influences minds.
A national hero back home in Ethiopia, this peerless long-distance track and road-running athlete said in November 2010 that he was retiring. But a few days later he reconsidered and decided to run in the 2010 London Olympics. He continues to draw large crowds whenever he puts on his running shoes,” the editor added.
NewAfrican also included the 33-year-old Ethiopian supermodel Liya Kebede in the list. The tribute that accompanies Liya’s selection reads, “The mother of two is an embodiment of the idea of going beyond beauty. Although she is one of the highest paid African models and has graced the cover of Vogue magazine three times, Liya is a strong champion of maternal health. She has served as the world Health Organizations’ Ambassadors for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health for the past six years.”
The editor added: “On the back of that, she also set up her own charity, the Liya Kebede Foundation, in Ethiopia, which is committed to ensuring that every woman, no matter where she lives, get access to life-saving care in child-birth by, among other approaches, providing simple low-cost strategies, such as educating health workers.”
The magazine also praised Liya for preserving the art of traditional weaving in her country as well as creating employment opportunities for local artisans.
Liya runs her own women and children’s clothing line- Lemlem-which uses traditional Ethiopian hand-woven material.
The list includes former South African president and statesman Nelson Mandela, Ivorian football superstar Didier Drogba and Cameroon’s Samuel Eto, Liberian president Johnson-sirleaf, Kenyan environmental activist Professor Wangari Maathai,the Senegalese-born American musician Akon, Nigerian authors Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe, among others. NewAfrican warned that this is not a ranking list, but a compilation of significant Africans in these contemporary times. Nigerians are noteworthy in their dominance of the list. Three of the five poets and authors are Nigerian and they dominate the business elite.