As the year is coming to an end, a lot of reflection is taking place. Admittedly, there haven’t been as many negative recollections of 2017 by people online as there were for the year 2016 so it’s reasonable to assume that everyone had a pretty decent year. The following people, however, seem to have been winning all year round and shining a positive light on Africa. In no particular order, here are five Africans who have slayed the year 2017 and made us proud to be African:

All Zimbabweans

For years (30 to be exact), Zimbabweans were under the rule of former president Robert Mugabe. In the 30 years he was in power, Zimbabwe went from being known as “the breadbasket of Africa” to a country that couldn’t even use their own currency. On November 21 2017, all this came to an end. After a week of military control and the people of Zimbabwe joining forces, Robert Mugabe finally resigned. As amazing as it is to take down a dictator, that’s not the best part of the story. Zimbabweans managed to go through this entire process without a single incident of violence which is unheard of in the history of uhm…ever! Not only did Zimbabweans show the world that by standing in unity, all things are possible, they also set a precedent on solving major political issues without violence.

The Nigerian women’s bobsled team (Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga)

These three ladies made us proud this year by qualifying for the winter Olympics. As if that isn’t an achievement in itself, the ladies are the first African athletes to qualify for bobsledding in the Olympics and also the first Nigerians to ever compete in winter Olympics. Representing a country that averages at a climate of 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) for most of the year, qualifying for a winter sport is nothing short of amazing! If this isn’t proof that you can do anything you put your mind to then I’m not quite sure what is. Be sure to look out for these ladies during the South Korea winter Olympics in February of 2018.

Nancy Abu-Bonsrah

Nancy Abu-Bonsrah made history this year as the first black woman ever to gain a residency at the prestigious John Hopkins hospital in their neurosurgery department. Nancy, a 26-year-old Ghanaian woman, is one of only five people to be accepted for this program. In an interview with CNN, Nancy was quoted saying “I hope to be able to go back to Ghana over the course of my career to help in building sustainable surgical infrastructure”. She’s the perfect example of Africans going out into the world to gain knowledge that they can bring back to build a better, brighter future for the African continent. Nancy’s success is a win for the continent in more ways than one, it also shows children all over Africa that they can go out into the world, compete with the world and come out on top.

Patrick E. Ngowi

At the tender age of 15, Patrick E. Ngowi established Helvetic Group, a company which focuses on clean energy investment. The Tanzanian teen (at the time) saw a shortage in alternative energy not only in his own country but in Africa, this sparked what has now become a group of diversified companies and has been nothing but a success ever since. In the year 2017, Helvetic Solar Contractors has installed more than 2,000 solar water heating systems in government institutions and several UN projects including schools, hospitals and hotels. This is in addition to several solar power contracts the company is executing in other East African countries such as Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. With the entire world trying to find alternative ways to produce energy, it’s great to have people like Patrick leading such innovations in Africa.

Miss Universe 2017 (Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters)

This South African beauty queen represented us well at the Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas this year. Although the pageant took place in November of 2017, she’ll be serving as Miss Universe throughout the year 2018. Out of 92 countries and territories that participated, Miss South Africa came out on top.  Demi is a 22-year-old lady who is now the second South African contestant to receive the Miss Universe title. One of the questions she was asked in the final round was “What quality in yourself are you most proud of and how will you apply that quality to your time as Miss Universe?” To which she replied:

As Miss Universe, you have to be confident in who you are as an individual. And Miss Universe is a woman that has overcome many fears and by that, she is able to help other women to overcome their fears. She is a woman that nothing is ever too much to ask for and I think that is exactly who I am

Having a strong young woman with beauty and brains representing not only our country but the African continent is something we can definitely pride ourselves in.

All these people have shown us and the world that anything is possible no matter where you’re from. They’re great role models for people in our continent and hopefully will spark the light in another African child to go out there and conquer the world!

Written by Amanda Masuku

Born and raised in South Africa but definitely a world citizen. Amanda has lived in four different countries (South Africa, Nigeria, Australia and Canada) and travelled to over twenty countries around the world (most of them being African countries). With a passion and affinity for writing, she is able to share her amazing experiences through creative and brain stimulating works.
Instagram: ms_mandee_