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Binyavanga, Ory Okolloh named Time’s most influential people

Friday April 25 2014

Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina and Ory Okolloh, Founder and Executive Director of Ushahidi. Photos/FILE

Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina and Ory Okolloh, Founder and Executive Director of Ushahidi. Photos/FILE 

MUGAMBI MUTEGI
By MUGAMBI MUTEGI
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Two Kenyans have been named by a top US magazine among the 100 most influential people in the world.

Time magazine on Thursday named author Binyavanga Wainaina and former Google executive Ory Okolloh alongside wealthy and influential individuals from across the world in its annual “The 100 Most Influential People” list.

Ms Okolloh, a former Google Africa policy manager, was named on account of her continuing quest to improve the continent through fighting corruption and promoting entrepreneurship. (READ: Kenyan lands key Google post)

The holder of a law degree from Harvard University, Ms Okolloh is renowned for co-founding Ushahidi, a pioneering free open source platform for crowd-sourcing crisis information.

SUCCESSFUL WOMAN

“Ory makes it her mission not to give aid but to support African entrepreneurs and citizens in building their own societies,” Esther Dyson, founder of non-profit firm HICCup wrote of Ms Okolloh in Time.

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“To the extent that Ory’s integrity and courage reflect Africa’s society, we should all stand up and cheer.”

In 2012, Forbes magazine named Ms Okolloh — who is currently the investment director at South Africa-based Omidyar — as the most successful woman in Africa for her impact on society, business and technology.

Mr Wainaina made it to the honour roll for publicly declaring that he was gay in conservative Africa, starting a conversation that has given him airtime on international publications. (READ: Binyavanga drops gay bombshell)

Following his announcement, the winner of the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story Discovering Home has received both praise and backlash in equal measure.

BLOW THE WHISTLE

“By publicly and courageously declaring that he is a gay African, Binyavanga has demystified and humanised homosexuality,” wrote Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian writer.

The two Kenyans were named alongside famous people like popular US musician Beyonce and tennis player Serena Williams.

The list also has business magnates such as Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote and America’s Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com.

Edward Snowden made it to the list on account of his decision to blow the whistle on the US government’s spying network.

Also on the list are actors Kerry Washington and Seth Meyers, US President Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s Finance minister.