Made by Africa, Loved by the World: Inspiring the Next Generation of Women Leaders through Creative Expression and Cultural Preservation

In celebration of Africa Day 2024, Meta shines a spotlight on four women who are preserving and promoting the diverse culture of the continent through entertainment, music, sport, and more.

Not too many years ago, it may have felt like a stretch to think that so much talent from the African continent would be taking up this much space in the context of the global stage. On this year’s Africa Day, Meta is placing some remarkable women on their rightfully earned pedestals; women who are cultivating a lane of their own and exporting their culture from Africa to the world. As we dive into their influence and achievements, we celebrate four forces in the vanguard of this transformation.

Understanding the digital age and the access we have to information at our fingertips has undoubtedly reimagined how we, as a society, engage with our online platforms. Enter the metaverse — platforms like Instagram have the potential and power to completely shift the trajectory of one’s journey for the better. Oluwasola Obagbemi, Corporate Communications Manager, Sub-Saharan Africa, Meta, expands on how Africans can continue to showcase what the continent has to offer to the world. “We see Africans across the continent and around the world using Meta’s family of apps to share their stories, express themselves, bring people together, speak out, build communities, make economic and social impacts, and create movements,” she explains. “We need to continue telling our African stories for the world to see. The stories of these spotlighted women exemplify how we are showcasing African culture to the world”. In this case, it has certainly served such a purpose. More than that, it has empowered the following women to cement themselves as cultural icons while simultaneously elevating the continent and promoting what it looks like to be unapologetically African.

To tell the African story is to tell a story rooted in its rich soil. For Bontle Moloi, previously Modiselle, that story began decades ago. Through dance and choreography, which she credits for helping her find her identity, she started to make a name for herself in South Africa’s evolving entertainment landscape. Now, she is considered a leader of dance and dance culture in Africa as a whole. Her career began in the early 2000s, when she established herself as one of the continent’s most prominent performers, taking home titles at one of South Africa’s biggest dance competitions at the time, Masters of Rhythm. By 2015, she had made her film debut in none other than a dance-inspired film aptly titled “Hear Me Move.” Today, The Bontle Modiselle Dance Studio successfully operates in the heart of Johannesburg, South Africa – cultivating fresh talent in the home of dance, fitness, performance, and creativity.

The official Instagram page that regularly garners millions of views, showcasing Moloi’s routines and classes is but a small testament to how the platform has completely catapulted her global reach. With distinctly South African choreography, her contemporary style celebrates the culture and attitude of its unique dance scene, that many around the world have failed to duplicate. As it stands, the fast-growing and traveling Amapiano movement has created mass interest in the country’s entertainment scene. On that note, she also set the Guinness World Record for the Largest Amapiano Dance in 2022. Moloi’s art rightfully places her at the heart of that.

As she continues to evolve as a performance artist, she remains faithful to the versatility of her craft. The blend of culture and tradition is evident in the way she uses dance as a medium to represent the versatility Africa has to offer to the world. On what the intersection of the world of dance and social media has done for her, she embraces both as a continuous form of identity and self-expression. “Dance was always a way for me to express myself, but back then, there was no social media”, she affirms. “It was a time when success pretty much looked American because that’s all we saw on TV and traditional media and it was a time when I felt quite isolated and unseen”. Refreshingly, that is no longer the case. “Finally, I had a breakthrough; I began to be seen not only by Africans but by the entire world.”

To accept how culturally diverse South Africa is as a country is to understand exactly why fields like dance reflect such diversity. Dance is a form of communication that expresses the African story through women like Moloi; women who loudly and proudly celebrate their identity, history, and heritage.

As we embark on a brief journey to Kenya, we come across one of its best-kept treasures — Victoria Kimani. While Afrobeats continues to transcend cultural borders as a genre, the songstress continues to collect fans like infinity stones from all over the world. Born in Los Angeles to Kenyan parents, Kimani ultimately returned to African soil by setting foot in Nigeria, where her career began to take off and reach massive heights. As the first female artist signed by the recording label Chocolate City back in 2012, her first single, “Mtoto,” was the tip of the iceberg with regards to what was yet to come.

Highlighting the immense power of collaboration is an important topic of conversation. Fusion, as it has been described by others, is indeed the future. This mentality can transcend boundaries by introducing diverse cultural influences to one another — creating truly unique and impactful sounds. Eventually returning to Kenya, Kimani’s sound really began to reflect her roots at the inception of the Afrobeats wave. What’s more impressive is her commitment to collaborating with other artists from all over the continent. One of her more notable singles, “Wash It,” features Ghanaian superstar Sarkordie. The West African rapper is also a frequent collaborator of hers. When artists are intentional about coming together to collaborate, they bring their unique sounds, perspectives and experiences to the table, resulting in them pushing the boundaries of their own artistry.

Before the advent of social media, music from the continent was arguably less palatable outside of Africa. Platforms like Instagram have played a crucial role in popularizing Afrobeats and the artists responsible for the sound. In doing so, they have also helped women like Kimani share their stories with a global audience, which importantly amplifies their voices. More than that, they have connected them to their core audience and introduced them to new audiences.

Known as the Wayne Rooney of women’s sports in her prime, football broadcaster and former player Eniola Aluko maintains a formidable presence where sports and culture collide. During a period when women’s football was gaining popularity in the UK, Aluko not only competed in but won multiple leagues as one of Chelsea’s top scoring players before moving to Italy to play for Juventus. While the list of her accomplishments is virtually endless, her more impressive feat is what she stood for then and continues to stand for today.

Aluko prides herself on preserving and promoting women, more specifically African women in spaces where they might otherwise be discriminated against. Today, the British-Nigerian athlete allows further access into her world through her very active online platforms, where she shares commentary, sporting insights and even glimpses into her personal life. In this day and age, Instagram is a valuable tool to connect people and provide knowledge on subjects that may not feel as easily accessible within the confines of physical borders. As she continues to build a brand for the future and inspire women across the globe, she remains proof that anything is possible if you risk putting yourself out into the world.

The city most famous for housing the Giza Pyramids and one of the Seven Wonders of the World contains yet another wonder of the world; Tasneem Elaidy, the singer and songwriter from Cairo, is internationally recognised. It was only a matter of time before she started going viral after releasing a number of cover songs as well as original music across social media platforms. Today, she has a growing audience of nearly 2 million followers on Instagram, 3 million on TikTok, and over 100 million combined views for her music.

Her country’s rich and diverse heritage contributes to why it is considered one of the world’s oldest and most influential civilizations. It is this same heritage that continues to influence and inspire those who hail from the land of the pharaohs. “My Egyptian heritage is very inclusive. Our culture is highly collective and extremely far from being individualistic,” she explains. “We move in families, tribes, and groups, which has made a distinctive impact on how I make my decisions and influence the people on my platforms. Every opinion, decision, or move always needs to consider those around you, and this is why I’m very aware of the music I write and the influence it could have on the people around me.”

This mentality would result in her making inclusive music for her families around the world. She sings in English and Spanish for the renowned Spanish football league, La Liga. “Representing the La Liga club Celta de Vigo in Spain was a significant moment for me,” she explains. “Being chosen as an Egyptian hijabi woman to represent a global club made me firmly believe that I could achieve anything I set my mind to and that every limitation and obstacle was only in my head.”

As it stands, she has also released an EP titled “Blue Shirt” featuring three original compositions. Based on the power of the internet, Elaidy has been extended the opportunity to connect with her fans and showcase her creativity while also growing a personal brand and becoming a household name. When asked what legacy she hopes to leave behind, she is confident that she currently represents future generations who aspire to embark on a similar path.

Because every woman above has a history that circles back to the motherland, they have made the continent proud by not only exposing Africa’s richness to the world but also inspiring those within African borders to the possibilities at large. As there are growing global and cultural shifts in creative, sporting, and musical fields, African stories certainly deserve to be told and celebrated around the world now more than ever.

To view each short film, follow the four women featured on Instagram or via the Meta Africa Facebook Page.