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L-R: Otosirieze Obi-Young, Arit Okpo, Olutimehin Adegbeye, Richard Akuson, and Kiki Mordi.

Brittle Paper’s Deputy Editor Otosirieze Obi-Young has been named one of the “100 Most Influential Young Nigerians” in 2019 by leading PR and rating firm Avance Media. Obi-Young, who received the inaugural The Future Awards Africa Nigeria Prize for Literature last year, is placed in the “Personal Development and Academia” category. He is the only name on the list working solely in literature. Also making the list are the journalist and TV presenter Arit Akpo, who last year became the new host of CNN’s African Voices, and the journalist and media personality Kiki Mordi, who did the investigation in the BBC’s #sexforgrades documentary, both in the “Media” category. In the “Leadership and Civil Society” category are the lawyer and LGBTQI rights activist Richard Akuson, founder of A Nasty Boy, and the writer, speaker and activist Olutimehin Adegbeye, who won the 2019 Gerald Kraak Prize.

Currently in its fourth year, Avance Media’s “100 Most Influential Young Nigerians” list is meant to highlight the work of young Nigerians under 40 around the world and to inspire change. It is compiled in partnership with Reset Global People, VIPI State, Jagari Designs, Surge Studios, WatsUp TV and Cliq Africa. Voting is open to the public to determine its overall ranking. The 2018 list was topped by the pop stars Davido and Wizkid, ranked Nos. 1 and 2 respectively, and includes the novelist Tomi Adeyemi at No. 56. The 2017 and 2016 lists were topped by the footballer Victor Moses and the actress Funke Akindele, respectively. The firm organizes similar rankings in Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania, and Kenya.

Otosirieze Obi-Young.

Otosirieze’s short stories have appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He joined Brittle Paper in 2016 and became a judge for the Gerald Kraak Prize in 2018 and for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2019. Named one of the “top curators and editors from Africa” by The Witsprouts Project, the 25-year-old is also an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, and the founder of The Art Naija Series anthologies. Most recently, he was profiled on Literary Hub for his advocacy for LGBTQ+ visibility in literature. He has completed a short story collection and is working on a novel.

OluTimehin Adegbeye. Image from her Twitter.

OluTimehin Adegbeye’s work focuses on gender, women’s rights, sex, sexuality and sexual violence, urban poverty, and sustainable development. Her TED Talk, “Who Belongs in a City?”, was chosen by TED Lead Curator Chris Anderson as one of the ten most notable talks of 2017. Her writing has appeared in Latterly Magazine, Open Democracy, Premium Times, This Is Africa, StyleMANIA, Essays Magazine, Klassekampen, and Women’s Asia 21. An alumna of the inaugural Writing for Social Justice workshop organised by AWDF in collaboration with FEMRITE, the Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop, and the BRITDOC Queer Impact Producers Lab, she is a Carrington Youth Fellow and a Women Deliver Young Leader. She is currently working on her first collection of essays.

Richard Akuson. Image from Bella Naija.

Richard Akuson is a lawyer, essayist, and queer rights activist. He founded A Nasty Boy, a fashion magazine that used provocative photography to push the boundaries of the portrayal of masculinity. In 2017, he was shortlisted for The Future Awards Africa Prize in New Media. In 2019, Akuson was named one of Forbes Africa‘s 30 under 30 entrepreneurs. This year, he announced a successor to his editorship role at A Nasty Boy.

Arit Okpo. Image from Guardian Nigeria.

Arit Okpo is also a documentary filmmaker, producer, and voice-over talent. She was, up until her announcement as the new host of CNN’s “African Voices,” the voice on the programme. Okpo, who worked with Richard Quest on his visit to Nigeria for his CNN programme Quest Business Traveller, has been a producer and presenter for EbonyLife TV, and hosts the web talk show Untold Facts, produced by The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERS).

Kiki Mordi. Bella Naija.

Kiki Mordi is also a filmmaker and writer. In 2016, she won Outstanding Radio Program Presenter (South-South) at the Nigerian Broadcasters Merits Awards. She made waves when, in 2019, working as an undercover reporter for BBC Africa Eye, she exposed a “sex for grades” practice in Nigerian universities. She is at present the head of presenting at WFM 91.7.

Brittle Paper congratulates Olutimehin Adegbeye, Richard Akuson, Arit Okpo, Kiki Mordi, Otosirieze Obi-Young, and the rest of the honourees.

Click here to see the full list of nominees and their profiles.

Click here to vote for your favorite nominees.

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Chukwuebuka Ibeh is a Staff Writer at Brittle Paper. An alumnus of the Purple Hibiscus Trust Creative Writing Workshop, his work has been published in McSweeneys, Clarion Review, Charles River Journal and elsewhere. He was longlisted for the Awele Creative Trust Award in 2017 and was a finalist for the 2019 Gerald Kraak Award. In 2019, he was named by Electric Literature as 'One of the Most Promising New Voices of Nigerian Fiction' in a feature introduced by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. He is a regular contributor with the New England Review of Books and lives in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

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