Time magazine just unveiled its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world on Thursday, featuring record numbers of 45 women and 45 people under the age of 40.
The list, broken into five sections—pioneers, artists, leaders, icons and titans—features a diverse group of Africans in each category.
“The TIME 100, always a reflection of its moment, looks quite different than in the past,” Time Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal wrote in a letter explaining how the magazine chose the 100 people on the list. “Influence increasingly knows no single zip code and no minimum age.”
Zimbabwe’s president Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, who took office following the ousting of Robert Mugabe, is listed alongside political figures such as President Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Jeff Sessions, Robert Mueller and Kim Jong Un.
The magazine paired guest contributors to write about each of the 100 people on the list. Former US president Barack Obama comments on how he draws inspiration from the Parkland, Fla., teenage survivors turned activists who organized the March for Our Lives rally against gun violence. Obama, who has mentioned that his greatest frustration as President was the failure of commonsense gun-safety laws, says, “They have the power… to reject the old constraints, outdated conventions and cowardice too often dressed up as wisdom.”
Kenyan anti-female genital mutilation activist Nice Nailantei Leng’ete, who escaped the cut—her culture’s ritualized female genital mutilation as a Maasai child in Kenya—also made the list. By going further to negotiate with village elders, who traditionally do not work with women, and convince them that alternative coming-of-age ceremonies will be healthier for girls and better for communities, her work as a project officer with Amref Health Africa has saved an estimated 15,000 girls around Kenya from the cut, as well as from child marriage.
“Nice is an extraordinary example of young African girls standing up for themselves. After the loss of her parents, she could have given up and followed the norm, knowing that challenging attitudes in male-dominated communities can get you cast out,” writes Jaha Dukureh, CEO and founder of Safe Hands for Girls. “Instead, she fought to get an education so she could help change the sociocultural structures that continue to impede women’s lives and well-being..FGM and child marriage will end in Africa because of the likes of Nice.”
Commenting on Trevor Noah, Comedian and The Daily Show host, who also made the list, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o says, “when I think of Trevor Noah, the first image I see is from his brilliant memoir, Born a Crime, of Trevor’s mother throwing him out of a moving vehicle while he’s asleep in order to save his life.” Nyong’o further describes him as a fantastic storyteller and one who has always been a defier of rules, which he became simply by being born biracial in apartheid South Africa.
Marvel’s Black Panther made a big splash on the list with both actor Chadwick Boseman and director Ryan Coogler making the cut in the artists category, alongside Kehinde Wiley, the artist who drew former American president Obama’s portrait.
Oprah Winfrey, making her ninth appearance, also appeared on the list with comedian Tiffany Haddish, expressing her admiration for her rise up from an unimaginably rough childhood. “She made her dreams come true,” Haddish writes. “And because I watched her, I did too.
Among the 45 women recognised are activist Tarana Burke, who founded the #MeToo movement; Jennifer Lopez; Issa Rae; Cardi B; Nicole Kidman and Lena Waithe, who took control of their narratives both on and off screen. Also on the list is Chloe Kim, who is shredding barriers in snowboarding; congresswoman Maxine Waters, who gave us all much needed reminders on reclaiming our time; astronaut Peggy Whitson, who recently logged her 665th cumulative day in space—more than any other American and Millie Bobby Brown, The Stranger Things actress who at 12 is the youngest person on the list.
Jacinda Ardern—New Zealand’s new Prime Minister who, at 37, is the youngest female head of government on the planet, was also seen on Justin Trudeau‘s profile saying, “There will be a few names globally that will become etched in our history books. They will be the names that mark the shift in our political landscape, when younger politicians took the reins and heralded a different type of politics. Justin Trudeau will be one of them.”
The list is not a measure of power or a collection of milestones but is instead, according to Felsenthal, “a designation of individuals whose time, in our estimation, is now.”
Or, in other words: “Was this their year?”