In celebration of the Black History Month, WorldRemit has launched the inaugural Top Ten Most Influential Africans in the Diaspora List, to recognize the contributions of Africans in America.
The list of ten notable Africans has four Nigerians – Kehinde Wiley, Olurotimi Badero, Bennet Omalu and Afam Onyema, who are being honoured for their groundbreaking success in a vast spectrum of professions, including arts, medicine, fashion, entertainment and philanthropy.
Most of the honorees are notable individuals who have partnered with top global leaders and institutions such as the United Nations, Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, The Oscars, Unicef, the World Economic Forum, the Smithsonian museum and many others.
The criteria used for selection is limited to first-generation African immigrants, who had a track record of making significant impacts in their respective fields, among the US African immigrant community or their communities back home. Also, they must have broken the barriers and status quo limiting African immigrants and created opportunities for others.
Commenting on the selection, Founder and Chairman, WorldRemit, Ismail Ahmed said, “As an African immigrant, I am fully aware of the hard work, sacrifices, and resilience needed to become successful in the West. I am immensely proud of all Africans who take the opportunity to achieve great things and contribute to their communities in an impactful way. To be able to honour Africans in the diaspora is enormously special to us here at WorldRemit.”
WorldRemit had the Publisher and CEO of OkayAfrica, Abiola Oke sit on the judging panel which selected ten finalists from a shortlisted group of black Africans based in the U.S. The other judges include WorldRemit founder and Chairman, Ismail Ahmed, who is also an immigrant originally hailing from Somaliland, and Daniel Canning, Managing Director of WorldRemit’s business in the Americas.
“Our mission at OkayAfrica is to connect a global audience to African culture, and through our publication, we highlight the positive contributions made by many African across the diaspora. It is fitting that WorldRemit established this program to coincide with Black History Month,” said Abiola Oke.
About the honorees
Kehinde Wiley, a portrait painter is a Nigerian-American based in New York City. He is known for his highly naturalistic paintings of black people and 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 US presidents. He is the first black artist to paint official portraits of the president for the National Portrait Gallery.
Olurotimi John Badero is a physician, interventional cardiologist, nephrologist and cardio-nephrologist – the world’s first and only fully trained cardio-nephrologist. He obtained his medical degree from the Obafemi Awolowo University, before relocating to the United States for his medical residency and fellowships.
Bennet Ifeakandu Omalu is a physician, forensic pathologist, and neuropathologist – 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. He got his medical degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and worked for three years in Jos before relocating to the United States as a result of the tension following the inconclusive 1993 general elections. His career and achievements have been captured in the book and movie – Concussion.
Afam Onyema is a Non-Profit Founder & CEO of The GEANCO foundation. He graduated cum laude from Harvard University with a degree in psychology and played on the 1997 Ivy League Championship-winning football team. He worked for a couple of years before settling to run his family’s non-profit organization.
Why this matters: Black History Month started in 1976, and since then the American Government recognized February as the month for highlighting the significant contributions made by African Americans to areas including American literature, business, science, politics, philanthropy, entertainment, sports, and their communities.
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According to Daniel Canning Managing Director, Americas for WorldRemit; “Data continues to show that black Africans in the diaspora are contributing significantly to the U.S. economy and society as a whole, while in many cases still supporting their communities back home. At WorldRemit, we believe that it is important for us to acknowledge and highlight these positive contributions, and Black History Month seemed like the ideal time to do so”
What you should know: WorldRemit is a leading fintech provider specialised in international money transfer services. They broke new grounds in an industry previously dominated by offline legacy players by taking international money transactions online – making them more secured, faster and cost-effective. The company currently employs over 800 people globally and operates money transfers in over 150 countries in 6,500 money transfer corridors worldwide
For those receiving money, the company offers a wide range of options including bank deposit, cash collection, mobile airtime top-up and mobile money. Backed by Accel, TCV and Leapfrog – WorldRemit is headquartered in London, with a global presence n several countries the United States, Canada, South Africa, Japan, Singapore, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand.