The Elite Africa Project is a global network of scholars working to shift how Africa and its elites are understood.

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The Elite Africa Project

is a Canadian-based global network of scholars working to challenge predominant understandings of Africa and its elites.

Both in academia and in wider public discourse, African elites have either been ignored or depicted as grasping and self-interested. This framing perpetuates negative depictions of the continent and its peoples and draws on a simplistic understanding of what power is and how it is wielded. Our work aims to counter these perceptions by initiating global conversations about “who leads” in Africa and how they do so.

We seek to disrupt and renew both academic and public discussions of African leadership, refocusing attention on a wider, qualitatively different set of elites from those that have predominated in the past (such as the parasitic “Big Men” of neo-patrimonial politics).

Burna Boy, Nigerian musician, rapper and songwriter; in 2021, his album Twice as Tall won the Best World Music Album at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, and he enjoyed back to back Grammy award nominations in 2019 and 2020.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigerian economist, fair trade leader, environmental sustainability advocate, human welfare champion, sustainable finance maven and global development expert. Since March 2021, Okonjo-Iweala has been serving as Director-General of the World Trade Organization.

This project focuses on Africa’s elites, defined as those who operate at the highest level across a range of domains, wield significant power, and possess expert knowledge, skills, and personal strengths that are deployed in strategic, creative, and generative ways. While elites are those who possess the most consequential and powerful agenda-setting and decision-making capacity, Africa’s elites have either been sidelined in many of our analyses or rendered monotonal. When we switch frames to consider the continent as embodying and projecting new, generative forms of power, it changes our view of Africa. It may also change how we understand power itself.

We look at six domains of elite power, from the political to the aesthetic, and ask how we might shift how we think about and study Africa, and how this shift would impact our conceptualization of power and its exercise. Our goal is to contribute to popular conversations about Africa and to highlight the achievements of the astonishing new generation of leaders for a broader public audience.

This website will serve as a hub for collaborative activity by scholars, activists, and practitioners working on Elite Africa and house a searchable database of primary and secondary materials on African elites.

Kofi Annan (1938-2018), Ghanaian-born diplomat, trained in economics, international relations and management; was the first UNSG to be elected from within the ranks of the UN staff itself and served in various key roles before becoming Secretary General.

Namwali Serpell, Zambia award-winning novelist and writer; Recognised early on with the Caine prize, her numerous subsequent awards include the Windham–Campbell Literature Prize, one of the world’s richest literary prizes.

Mohammed "Mo" Ibrahim, Sudanese billionaire businessman. He worked for several telecommunications companies, before founding Celtel, which when sold had over 24 million mobile phone subscribers in 14 African countries.

The Elite Africa Project

is a Canadian-based global network of scholars working to challenge predominant understandings of Africa and its elites.

Both in academia and in wider public discourse, African elites have either been ignored or depicted as grasping and self-interested. This framing perpetuates negative depictions of the continent and its peoples and draws on a simplistic understanding of what power is and how it is wielded. Our work aims to counter these perceptions by initiating global conversations about “who leads” in Africa and how they do so.

We seek to disrupt and renew both academic and public discussions of African leadership, refocusing attention on a wider, qualitatively different set of elites from those that have predominated in the past (such as the parasitic “Big Men” of neo-patrimonial politics).

This project focuses on Africa’s elites — those who operate at the highest level across a range of domains, wield significant power, and possess expert knowledge, skills, and personal strengths that are deployed in strategic, creative, and generative ways. When we switch frames to consider the continent as embodying and projecting new, generative forms of power, it changes our view of Africa. It may also change how we understand power itself.

This website is the hub for collaborative activity by scholars, activists, and practitioners working on Elite Africa and will house a searchable database of primary and secondary materials on African elites.

ELITE AFRICA PROJECT DATABASE

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Ozwald Boateng

Fashion House/Fashion designer

London, UK
Contact: 30 Savile Row
London
W1S 3PT
Telephone: +44 0207 437 2030
Email: store@ozwaldboateng.co.uk
Website: www.ozwaldboateng.co.uk

Boateng Ozwald

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Fashion House/Fashion designer, London-UK

Aesthetic

Veekee James

Award winning fashion designer/Creative Director

Nigeria
Contact: veekee@veekeejames.com
Website: veekeejames.com

Veekee James

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Fashion designer/Creative Director, Veekee James

Aesthetic

Veekee James

Fashion House(Clothing)

Contact: +2348155407621/veekee@veekeejames.com
Website: veekeejames.com
Founded in 2018, Veekee James inspires creativity, elegance and class amongst women globally by crafting unique pieces for all seasons.

Veekee James

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Veekee James, Nigeria

Aesthetic

Wear Ghana

Fashion (Clothing)

Location: Accra, Ghana
Address: Anigye House, Haatso, Accra
Contact: (+233)59 856 5420/ (+233)59 824 8984/info@wearghana.com
Website: wearghana.com
WEAR Ghana was co-founded by friends and university roommates Awura Abena Agyeman (left) & Angorkor Nai-Kwade (right). The pair were passionate about fashion and freedom, and dreamt of using it as a tool to contribute to the development of their community and elicit pride in Ghana-made products. While everyone else was shopping common, overpriced, boutique looks, they were two young ladies creating a style that represented The New African. In 2013, they quit their jobs in banking and telecommunications to focus on this dream… and WEAR Ghana was born.
Throughout their long-standing partnership, Awura Abena and Angorkor have continuously complemented and pushed each other, resulting in covetable pieces in beautiful fabrics, memorable prints, and bold colors. After a lot of trial and error and a decade of learning & relearning, they’ve inspired a perfection of the standout GIGI collection: a unisex and stylish collection that encapsulates the magic of the people who wear them. Today, WEAR Ghana is made up of a team of young African enthusiasts focused on achieving world-class standards and global significance.
Source: wearghana.com

Wear Ghana

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Wear Ghana, Accra - Ghana

Aesthetic

Duaba Serwaa

Fashion House

Accra, Ghana
Address: Duaba Serwa Artisanal Design Studio No 1 Goodwill Avenue, E Legon - Trasacco Estate Rd GD-213-4098
Contact: (+233)507339556)/info@mysite.com
Website: duabaserwastudios.com
Founded by designer, Nelly Hagan Deegbe in 2011, Ghanaian women’s wear brand Duaba Serwa offers sophisticated pieces that are characterized by modern influences and contemporary sensibilities. The brand employs luxurious fabrication, a vibrant color palette and our signature triangular origami pleat to create innovative pieces that combine intricate details, tactile textures and structural construction. It works with highly skilled women in Ghana and Burkina Faso to create woven fabrication to keep traditional weaving techniques that are becoming extinct, alive through its collections.
Source: duabaserwastudios.com

Duaba Serwaa

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Duaba Serwaa, Accra - Ghana

Aesthetic

Hakim Adi

Author/Activist/Historian (History of Africa and the African Diaspora)

Website: hakimadi.org

Adi Hakim

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Historian (History of Africa and the African Diaspora), UK.

Political
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