Profiles: 2019 Africans Rising Activist of the Year Nominees

Africans Rising selects 10 Young Africans for 2019 Activist of the Year Award

The Africans Rising Activist of the Year award will be presented to an outstanding individual who has demonstrated sterling leadership in their work as a selfless advocate for the rights of people on the continent. Read the biographies of the final 10 candidates below and then cast your vote for who you think should be named the 2019 Africans Rising Activist of the Year.

More information about the award can be found here.

Daniel Nii Ankrah | Ghana | Organisation: Activista Ghana

Daniel Nii Ankrah is a social activist in policy, advocacy and governance with over a decade’s experience. He is the co-founder and national coordinator of Activista Ghana, a youth movement that works with local organizations and youth leaders. The movement has grown from 35 founding members to over 1,500 members across Ghana working for a just, equitable and sustainable world in which every person enjoys the right to a life of dignity through partnerships with local communities and organizations. Since 2016, he has liaised with Activista International, ActionAid Ghana, Activista members, and local partners to successfully facilitate workshops on leadership, young women, youth, and underrepresented groups’ participation in governance and democratic discourses.
Daniel has a proven record of facilitating community activities, forums, outreaches and projects from gender, SRHR, fighting inequality, political participation, and artistic activism. He was the Africans Rising focal person at ActionAid Ghana and helped commemorate the launch of Africans Rising in Ghana, interlinking local to regional and global on the Agenda 2063 and the SDGs 2030 in a way that is both empowering and liberating to Africans Rising members in Ghana.
He is a lead capacity development expert on The Africa We Want project. He provides critical support in capacity development and campaigns on ‘The African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance’ within The Africa We Want project framework across West African countries. His academic background is in political science and English, where he holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Ghana, Legon.

Tânia Tovela | Mozambique | Organisation: Women’s Empowerment and Leadership Movement

Tânia Tovela (born on January 15, 1994, in Maputo, Mozambique) is a motivational speaker, social activist, human rights promoter, author, relationship manager (FNB), journalist, jurist, poet, and founder of the Women’s Empowerment and Leadership Movement in Schools. Tania began her social activism journey in 2007 as part of the National Organization of Teachers in Mozambique and went on to develop social intervention programmes through the elaboration of articles, poems, television programs and radio programs, where she advocated for the cause of girls and women, justice, equality, and respect for women’s rights.
In 2018, she was a member of the Youth Parliament of Mozambique and appointed as Young Leader by UNDP-Africa – Regional Youth Konnected Fellowship. In 2011, she founded an informative newsletter named ‘Informative Journal’ in a local school and was CADE’s (Comunidade Académica para o Desenvolvimento) minister of communication and academic relations. In 2012, she was a member and founder of UNE (União Nacional de Estudantes) and became a member of OJM (Organização da Juventude Moçambicana). She is a member of the Youth Parliament and a senior member of the National Association of Young Bankers and Community and Volunteer for Save the Children. She was recently chosen as the Mozambique ambassador for Womenice – an integrated platform to support women empowerment with inspiration, information access, leadership tools, training, and interaction. She was recently selected by Africa ChangeMakers Fellowship Program, Cohort 3, 2019 from a highly competitive pool of 2157 outstanding applications from 47 African countries.

Jean-Marie Kalonji | DRC | Organisation: André Blouin Pan-African School

From an early age, Jean-Marie Kalonji has been concerned with the suffering of his fellow compatriots. He entered into activism through the “Ambitious Youth Group”, an organization he created to awaken the consciousness of pupils about their civic responsibility at school.  In 2011, Jean-Marie led a youth NGO called Alliance pour l’Universalité des Droits Fondamentaux to educate the masses and popularize the laws of the land. During this same period, he founded Quatrième Voie so that Congolese and other African youth could rally together. From 2014 to 2016, Jean-Marie’s mobilising capacity earned him the title of “Youth National Coordinator” in the Canaan Missionary Church. In 2015, while former President of the Republic Joseph Kabila was holding on to power beyond his constitutional mandate, Jean-Marie intensified his community mobilization to resist the installation of another dictatorship in the Congo. Jean-Marie’s activism around this national question caught the attention of the Kabila regime.

In an effort to further expand his reach and impact, Jean-Marie launched “It is time/DRC’’ to invite Congolese people to stand up against the continuation of the Kabila regime. Squarely in the crosshairs of Kabila’s intelligence services, Jean-Marie was disappeared by Kabila’s security forces on two occasions, tortured and brutalized, and released after national and international demands were made for his liberation. Jean-Marie is the founding director of the Andree Blouin Pan African Center which trains Congolese youth in Pan-Africanism, civic responsibility, and grassroots organizing and mobilization. He has presided over the training of nearly 500 youth. 

Fatou Jagne | The Gambia | Organization: Network Of Girls Against Human Trafficking

Fatou Jagne is a survivor of human trafficking, working with  Network Of Girls Against Human Trafficking as the founder and president. She holds a higher national diploma in pharmacy dispensing assistant from the University of the Gambia.  Fatou is a human right activist with a proven track record of working with women and girls to fight against all forms of injustice including human trafficking. Her network consists of survivors of human trafficking who were trafficked in the Middle East. 

Her experience as a survivor motivated her to become an exemplary leader in her network, to ensure that trafficking is abolished in the Gambia and Africa at large. Since she returned home in 2017, she has dedicated her life to fighting against human trafficking, irregular migration and other human right abuses against women and girls. She wants to ensure that all perpetrators of human trafficking are brought to justice. Fatou volunteers with youth organisations such as Africans Rising, Activista, Network Against Gender-Based Violence, and the National Youth Council, where she works to ensure that young women and survivors realise their full potential and become great leaders in the future.

Isildo Tito Marques | Angola | Organisation: Together We Can Move Angola

Isildo Tito Marques is a young Angolan university student and social activist. From an early age, he embraced the mission of fighting for youth empowerment at the level of his community, through workshops and engagements with young people, as he encouraged them to be active parts of their country’s development. He implemented the ITM (Isildo Tito Marques) project in his neighborhood, with the aim of motivating young people to leave the drug world, encouraging them to read and participate in lectures, academic, and civic activities.

With his social project Together We Can Move Angola he travels around the country to talk to young people  about youth’s positioning in society, women’s productive roles and so many other themes through the campaign “Minha Comunidade em 1°Lugar”. In the context of social activism, Isildo has carried out some demonstrations and marches against unemployment, against the implementation of tuition in public higher education and some cleaning and awareness campaigns at the community level. He is also a partner of the Padre Horácio Host Center, which aims to motivate young residents in the institution to understand that, regardless of their situations, they are also members of the society, as well as facilitate their process of social reintegration. As a result of his struggle and contributions, he has been invited to address various topics of social interest on radio and television. He recently received training in civic leadership and social project management at the University of South Africa through the YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative) program.

Fiona Emali Keya | Kenya | Organisation: Young Women Generations

Fiona Emali Keya is a youth leader, mentor and community trainer based in Eastland, Nairobi, Kenya. She is a human rights defender and community grassroots activists. She is the Founder of young women generations and chairperson Makadara Youth Network. Over the years she has gained solid experience in youth leadership, group dynamics, digital media activation, research, and movement building, as well as a passion to work in different aspects and areas when a need arises. She is a gender activist and advocates for the rights of women and young girls who are sexually violated.

She is a strong believer in quality education for all. She advocates for better and conducive learning institutions for our children. For over 12 years, She has volunteered with different organizations. She has learned and mastered interpersonal skills, building and interlinking social groups and organizing and coordinating activities at local and national platforms. One of her recent projects was to sensitize women and girls on issues of leadership, governance and sexual reproductive health rights. She is result driven with an urge for excellence. Her community experience and educational background afford her pertinent real-world community proficiency for this locus.

Caryn Dasah | Cameroon | Organisation: Social Justice Activist & Blogger

Caryn Dasah is a social justice activist and a recognized dynamic youth leader. She has frontline experiences implementing campaigns and advocacy initiatives advancing women’s rights, gender equality, and peace. She started her journey into advocacy when she was an adolescent living in a rural community where she witnessed the lack of gender parity first hand. Women were subjected to violence and she was determined to change the tides. Her work focuses on women’s leadership and promoting human rights. Seeing progress in these areas is her passion, therefore she makes constant strides to ensure they are embedded in society. Caryn sees conflict and inequality as an opportunity for social change and she is driven by the hope and transformation that she sees in the lives of the women she serves.

Her work contributes to providing a safe environment for women and girls living in conflict areas under the strict restriction of civic space through the provision of life and leadership skills to excel in times of crisis. She created a campaign to engage rural women in peace processes called “the HerPlace Project.” She is passionate about her work and believes she can be the change she wants to see. Caryn believes she is mandated to build the power of voice to drive social change for women and young girls. Her two paramount qualities are her indomitable enthusiasm and her determination to live a life of humane purpose which often leads her to take risks and be willing to face the challenges.

Achraf Aouadi | Tunisia | Organization: IWatch

Achraf Aouadi is a Tunisian activist and the founder of iWatch, a watchdog anti-corruption organization founded after the 2011 revolution. iWatch works to organize and advocate for increased government transparency and fight against corruption. I WATCH has been the organisation behind the arrest of media mogul and Tunisian presidential elections frontrunner Nabil Karoui in a corruption case.

Enduring huge smearing and intimidation campaigns, iWatch is considered as one of the prominent organizations in North Africa in anti-corruption and Transparency. Being at the top of the organization, Mr. Aouadi was chosen to represent the Tunisian civil society at the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. Achraf is also a Stanford University democracy fellow and has also been selected as an Ashoka fellow. In recognition of his great efforts in his field of work, Achraf was awarded the POMED’s 2019 Leaders for Democracy Awards.

Nadin Elsir | Sudan | Organisation: Association of Young Sudanese Women

Nadin Elsir joined the African youth movement to support the dreams and aspirations of all young Sudanese women. Her commitment to the issues of women and young girls who played a key role in the Sudanese revolution, resulted in her work to establish the “Association of  Young Sudanese Women” as well as the al Harsat organisation in partnership with leading Sudanese women’s activists. Both organisations have an interlinked aim to support the revolutionary movement in Sudan focusing on women within the movement to ensure that women play a key role in Sudan’s transition to democracy. The aim of the young women leaders project is to support the implementation of the security council resolution 1325 focusing on women’s empowerment. Nadin’s role was to support marginalised groups on the peripheries of Sudan on advocacy, trainings, and awareness raising.

Nadin is also a member and contributor to several cinema associations. She directed three films focusing on women’s rights, recycling, environmental issues, child labour, and street children. Nadin’s passion is to contribute to ensuring the role of women and girls in the new Sudan. She understands that the role of women in Sudan has always been an integral one, and seeing inspiring figures such as the first female doctor and parliamentarian in the Arabic speaking world motivated her own aspirations to become a member of the new parliament and represent the women and young girls of Sudan. 

Gatwal Yul | South Sudan | Organization: YEI South Sudan

Gatwal Yul studied (MBChB) at Kampala International University and is co-founder and executive director of Young-adult Empowerment Initiative (YEI). He is also a founding member of Sudds Enterprise Development Co. Ltd. In February 2017, Gatwal participated in President Barack Obama’s signatory program, The Young African Leaders Initiative, a four-month leadership incubation at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya. He also participated in the US Institute of Peace (USIP) Programs as a USIP – His Holiness the Dalai Lama 2017 fellow. On October 25, 2018, Gatwal received the Tomorrow Peacebuilders’ Award (TPA) from Peace Direct at PeaceCon2018 in Washington, DC, USA on behalf of YEI. In 2019, Gatwal was named TPA-2019 Jury Member. He is an Obama Foundation Fellow, a DAFI scholar, and a Western Union Global Scholar.

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