Compiling a list of 12 Young social activists to watch out for in 2012 was an herculean task. As much as possible, we wanted a list that would demonstrate reach, focus on young people who have had a track record of contributing to development in their societies and who are poised to make much more contributions in the coming year. We dug deep into existing networks on the continent, read through the profile of several young men and women and sough recommendation from adult allies who have worked with amazing young people on the continent. From an initial list of 31, we pruned down and settled on the final 12, their records and achievements speak for them.



Nmachi Jidenma


Nmachi Jidenma currently works at Google where she is working to drive technology and internet usage in African Universities. She is founder of Celebrating Progress Africa, a new online crusade to reshape the Africa conversation. She started by blogging about progressive things happening in Nigeria on her Facebook page and has now grown the platform to a full website that has attracted more than 18,000 likes on Facebook.  She has gained working experience at JPmorgan and at Accenture and has written extensively for The Next Web, Reuters, and Next Newspapers. She bagged a Masters in Applied Economics & Management from Cornell University, New York.





Patricia Jumi


Patricia is the Managing Director of GrowthAfrica Capital, which assists small business owners and entrepreneurs grow their businesses into strong and profitable companies through mentorship, training, and patient capital. GrowthAfrica has helped over 1,500 clients, and hopes to expand their training-of-trainers program across East Africa to reach 5,000 entrepreneurs annually. Patricia has worked at Metrocomia International and also as the Vice President of AIESEC Uganda. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Makerere University and an MBA from Copenhagen Business School. Patricia believes that the next level of change in Africa is coming from Youth and she has a clear vision of being a role model to young business women in Kenya. Patricia is a member of the African Youth Panel and recently bagged the prestigious Acumen Fund East African Fellowship.





Dabesaki Mack-ikemenjima



Dabesaki Mac –Ikemenjima is currently a post-graduate researcher at the University Of East Anglia and also engaged as co-editor of the Open Society Institute’s anthology on Youth Policies and the African Youth Charter. He was born in Nigeria, educated at Rivers State College of Education. Dabesaki worked as one of two consultants who developed the African Youth Charter and worked extensively with the African Union Youth Department towards its adoption by the African Union Heads of Government. He was listed as one of 15 Nigerian Youth on the world stage and received the Commonwealth Innovative Initiative award in the same year. He has travelled to, worked-in and made presentations in 28 countries around the world, especially in Africa.  Since 1999, Dabesaki has been engaged in various initiatives within the development and youth movements.


toyosi akerele


Toyosi Akerele is a youth advocate and education expert. She is the Executive Director of a RISE Group, a fast growing company with interests in publishing, printing, library, media and youth events. She started the RISE business academy in July 2008 to add value to young career people. She is a law graduate from the University of Jos and University of New Hampshire. Toyosi’s RISE summit has attracted huge crowd across Nigeria and her seminar have been estimated to reach 100,000 young people across Nigeria. Toyosi has won numerous awards including the Nigerian Youth Leadership Award, the Future Awards and most recently was selected for the Women in Distinction award (Thisday awards) by the Thisday Newspapers. She was one of a handful of African young women who had an audience with Michelle Obama on her recent visit to South Africa.



Maureen Agena


Maureen Agena is a new media enthusiast, trainer, youth activist, Digital Native and a trained citizen Journalist. She currently works as a program Manager at Text to Change a Mobile for Development Company. Prior to this, she worked at Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) for 3 years as an Information & Communications Officer. She holds an Msc in Information Systems from St. Mary’s university in Halifax. Maureen was recipient of Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship and an ARDYIS 2010 East African award winner. She is passionate about ICT4D, mobile technology and Gender issues in Technology. Maureen runs a blog where she chronicles her experience as a Citizen Journalist

Ibrahim Ceesay


Ibrahim Ceesay is the Chairperson of the Youth Advisory Council for the Youth Section at the Gambia National Commission for UNESCO. Ibrahim is a social justice campaigner, climate activist and independent film?maker from Gambia. He holds leadership positions with several youth led regional and international organizations. Prior to his current position, he worked with the Gambia National Commission for UNESCO as Administrator/Secretary General of the National Federation for UNESCO Clubs and Centres. He has facilitated and was involved in several youth led processes at the African Union, UN and other International Organizations, as a youth expert at all level. Ibrahim is currently the Chairman of the African Youth Panel, a network of youth leaders from the 5 regions in Africa and also the Coordinator of the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change




Zied Mhirsi

Zied Mhirsi is a 33-year-old Tunisian radio host, doctor and global health professional. Zied hosts a weekly radio program:  Netshow , on Express FM, a popular Tunisian radio network. The show explores political trends and social media and was the only program that brought forward the voices of the Tunisian bloggers prior to the revolution. For more than six years, Zied has had one of the most popular blogs in Tunisia called Zizou From Djerba. Since the revolution, Zied has worked extensively with English-speaking media, helping to produce shows and acting as a spokesman for Tunisia’s young people. Zied was profiled on 60 Minutes, walking Bob Simon and the audience through the Tunisian revolution, examining the role that new media played and elaborating what lay in store for Tunisia’s future. He has also worked with CNN, CBS News, BBC, Al Jazeera English, Australia Channel 9, and ETV in South Africa. Zied is a doctor by training and has worked in senior positions with the Tunisian HIV/AIDS Association and the Tunisian Medical Students Association. He holds two masters degrees in public health from the American University in Beirut and the University of Washington. He is a Fulbright Alumni and previously served on the faculty of the University of Washington. Zied is also a co-founder of Tunisia Live (



Victor Ochen


Victor Ochen has spent 20 out of his 28years amidst war. Shaking off that bitter experience, Victor established AYINET as a youth led organization to deliver life-saving health assistance and to promote tolerance, reconciliation, forgiveness, and development in Uganda. AYINET strongly believes that justice for the victims is necessary to prevent new atrocities in the future. His achievements in the last 10 years clearly prove that Mr. Victor Ochen is one of Africa’s vibrant youth leaders. Victor has worked closely with the United Nations on Peace and Reconciliation effort on the African Continent and he travels widely contributing to peace processes and efforts at ensuring that young people live a normal and productive life after going through a conflict. You can read more about Victor Ochen in his interview with Youthhubafrica here



Olivia Mukam

Olivia Mukam is President and founder of Harambe Cameroun. She graduated from the High-Ranked John Hopkins University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations in January 2009. She has been an intern for UNICEF and has received four Awards and Honors for her hard work and pieces/journals she wrote or co-wrote. While at John Hopkins University, she became one of the 8 worldwide Pioneer member of the Harambe Endeavour Alliance. In November 2009, Olivia founded Harambe Cameroon, a private, apolitical and legally Cameroonian organization led by the bright minds of Cameroon in the Diaspora and in the country. As Founder of Harambe Cameroun, Olivia initiated the country’s first Social entrepreneurship program, providing an opportunity zone for Camerounian university students to translate their ideas into actions, as they propose business enterprises to solve local problems. Olivia has successfully leveraged partnership with the private sector, Government institutions and international organizations to provide support for Camerounian youth through Harambe Cameroun. Prior to Harambe, Ms Mukam initiated a couple of projects to solve critical problems in some communities in Cameroon. In 2007, the alarming health conditions of children in the village of Bamendjou-West Cameroon suffering from water-borne diseases prompted her to start a water addition and sanitation project in collaboration with the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) of the University of Delaware. After 5 years of implementation, the project has provided access to clean water to about 5,000 people in the village, reducing the risk of diseases in the village.


Robert Kasenene

Robert Kasenene is currently the head of CAD Blog Editorial team at CoDe Services Tanziana Ltd. He has worked within youth development for over seven years across the continent (base in Tanzania), and has established and helped run a number of youth run institutions in Tanzania and consulted on a number of national and international development processes pertinent to young people. He has also been involved with other young activists in different parts of the continent in numerous campaigns to push for the recognition of Youth Led Development as an important concept and tool to address the youth employment challenge on the continent and push for youth engagement in national development processes. Robert consults regularly for the African Union, and the United Nations amongst several other institution on documentation, Organisation development and Development Communications.





Julius Malema

Julius Malema (born 3 March 1981, in Seshego) is a South African politician, and the former president of the African National Congress Youth League. He was elected the regional chairman of the Youth League branch in Seshego in 1995. In 1997, he became the chairman of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) for the Limpopo province, and was elected as the national president of that organization in 2001.Malema occupies a notably controversial position in South African public and political life. He has been described by both Jacob Zuma (President of South Africa) and the Premier of Limpopo Province as the “future leader” of South Africa. He seems to have fallen out with the African National Congress following his recent suspension from the party, but Malema remains a popular figure in South African politics.


Alaa and Manal

Alaa and Manel Abdel Fattah were living and working in Johannesburg, South Africa when the revolution in Egypt broke out. The left their work, boarded the plane and joined Egyptains in Tahrir Square to call in the ‘now famous’ Egyptian revolution. Alaa is an Egyptian blogger, software developer, and political activist. Alaa along with his wife Manel Hassan, co-founded The Egyptian blog aggregator “Manalaa” and “Omraneya”, the first Arab blog aggregators that did not restrict inclusion based on the content of the blog. In 2005 the “Manalaa” blog won the Special Reporters Without Borders Award in Deutsche Welle‘s Best of Blogs competition. He has been active in developing Arabic-language versions of important software and platforms. Recently, Alaa was detained by the Military in Egypt over allegations that he incited the public against the army. He was initially detained for 15days and his detention was later extended. While in custody, his son Khaled was born, named after Khaled Said, the slain blogger who had become a symbol of the Egyptian revolution. Alaa refused to appear before a Military trial and his case was later transferred to a civilian court. He was released from detention on December 25, 2011

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Rotimi Olawale, co-founder of is a youth development expert. For more than six years he has been involved in leading youth advocacy efforts mainly around the Millennium Development Goals. In 2006, he represented Nigeria as a youth ambassador at the United Nations Global Youth Leadership Summit held at the UN Headquarters in New York. Rotimi has held several global leadership positions including; member, UNFPA Global Youth Advisory Panel for 2 years; member, African Youth Panel. Rotimi is currently involved in shaping local, national and global policies to benefit youth and also leverage opportunities for young people. He was listed by the Nigerian government as one of 15 Nigerian youth on the world stage in 2008.