Welcome to Elite Africa!

Antoinette Handley

Why, when we think about Africa’s elites, are we more likely to think about Idi Amin than about the environmental activist, Wangari Maathai? Or the award-winning banker, James Mwangi? Or the globally prominent artist, El Anatsui?

This project was born from two observations:

  • That, across a host of activities, the number of Africa’s elites and their global reach and influence has exploded over the past two decades. Africans are achieving, excelling, and leading like never before.
  • Yet, these achievements often don’t receive the recognition they deserve. And when Africa’s elites are covered in the popular media, harmful tropes and stereotypes about Africa and Africans more broadly are often not far behind.

All of this ignores the talents, skills, and immense creativity that is deployed by a host of women and men across fields as diverse as medical technology, civic activism, fashion, IT, music, and architecture. We think it’s time to recognize that leadership—how Africans are exerting influence at regional and global levels—and to think hard about what that means for how we understand power—and Africa itself.

Welcome to the Elite Africa Project website where you will find updates on the project, thoughts and reflections, as well as our database of resources on Africa’s elites.

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you would like to learn more about what we are doing or pursue a partnership or collaboration.

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Our distinctive typeface, Format-1452, was designed by Frank Adebiaye, a French-Beninese type designer and founder of the experimental Velvetyne Type Foundry.