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Idris Elba and 4 More of the World’s Most Influential Ghanaians

Ghana is best known its rich natural resources like gold and cocoa, but some of the world’s most accomplished people roots in the country. Here are five of the world’s most influential Ghanaians you need to know.

RELATED: 9 Reasons to Visit Ghana

Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General, United Nations

The late Kofi Annan is regarded as one of Ghana’s most distinguished sons, largely for being the first Ghanaian to serve as the United Nations’ 7th Secretary-General, the top post of the world’s largest intergovernmental organization.

The part Fante, part Ashanti diplomat was the son of a tribal chief, and he studied economics and international relations in the United States and Europe before becoming the first Ghanaian to win a Nobel Peace Prize for his staunch advocacy of equal human rights and working to end HIV/AIDS in Africa.

When The Financial Times asked Mr. Annan in 2014 how he was able to hold the highest role for the UN, he replied, “Time and age probably have something to do with it,” adding that “I laugh a lot inside and outside, and at myself sometimes.”

Annan died peacefully in his sleep in 2018 after suffering a brief illness. He was 80.

Adwoa Aboah, Model

Born to a Ghanaian father and a British mother, Adwoa Aboah has been touted as one of the world’s most versatile models and has graced the covers of Vogue and i-D magazine and has appeared in campaigns for Versace and Alexander Wang.

Last year, the 2017 GQ Woman of the Year shot a Burberry campaign in Ghana in hopes that it would shed light on the country’s beauty.

“I want the world to see the beauty and Ghana to have that moment in the light, one that it has always deserved,” she told Teen Vogue. “I have been claimed by Ghana, told to go and show the world, make them proud. I belong. So that’s what this is, a message of love and pride to my family and the people of Ghana.”

The 26-year-old’s name, Adwoa, is a cultural West African name given to women born on Monday. Her last name, Aboah, is a name primarily given to Ghanaians from the Akan tribe.

View this post on Instagram

Never have I been more proud of something. The last part of my series with @burberry Art Directed by myself, shot by #juergenteller Styled by @poppykain. Make-Up by @celiaburtonmakeup Outfits by my Auntie Tina. Featuring my cousin @kensemah My Grandma, Auntie Mary, Auntie Tina and my skrillion @sonny_hall .Thank you to everyone who made this possible, for listening to Juergen and I when we came up with this mad idea. This is what it’s all about, do something different, think outside the box and create something iconic. #juergenxadwoa - Going home, back to the motherland. A place where I felt like an outsider but always wanted to belong. Growing up differently, never knowing the mother tongue. Patronized by the world, one sided images of famine and underdevelopment. Culturally appropriated, continuously stolen with no respect or return. The world knowing nothing about the magic that Ghana is, the beauty and chaos. Where my father was born, the other half of my British blood, Accra. Home away from home with the church and the swing and grandma and grandad, aunties, Kente cloth, fufu and buckets for washing. Memories, so many memories of 6 hour journeys to visit my other half. The last chapter and I want the world to know that there are two families, both that mean the world to me, two sides to my story. I want the world to see the beauty and Ghana to have that moment in the light, one that it has always deserved. I have been claimed by Ghana, told to go and show the world, make them proud. I belong. So that’s what this is, a message of love and pride to my family and the people of Ghana.

A post shared by Adwoa Aboah (@adwoaaboah) on

Idris Elba, Actor

Before Idris Elba became a mega superstar on the world stage, he was a young boy born and raised in meager conditions from a Ghanaian woman and a Sierra Leonean father.

The British-born actor – who proudly shows off his African roots with a tattoo on his right hand of a black star taken from Ghana’s flag – is credited with encouraging Western movies to be filmed in Africa, including the Netflix film Beasts of No Nation in which he had a starring role.

“We needed to have those people on our side to convince the [film] company that Ghana was the place to shoot,” the film’s director Cary Fukunaga told The Telegraph in 2015. “And Idris was instrumental in that.”

Adding to his long list of accolades, Queen Elizabeth awarded the Luther star with the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2016.

Edward Enniful, Editor-in-Chief, British Vogue

It is difficult to find out where to begin when it comes to Edward Enninful, a fashion luminary who attracted praised when he became British Vogue’s first African and gay Editor-in-Chief. It may seem as if his success came overnight, but behind the scenes, Enninful fought tirelessly throughout the span of over two decades to clench the throne.

“I feel what I’m doing here is really going back to the traditions of Vogue, opening up and having conversations about the world we live in, diversity of perspective, of experience,” he told Attitude Magazine shortly after beginning his new position. “I’m always curious, looking forward, trying to discover new things for myself as well as the reader.”

The Ghanaian-born editor began his fashion career at 18 when he was tapped to serve as fashion director for British magazine i-D. He held the post for over 20 years before becoming a contributing editor for Italian Vogue. Then he became fashion director for W Magazine.

And if that is not enough, Enninful has consulted advertising campaigns for the likes of Comme des Garcon, Gucci, Hugo Boss and Valentino.

“The new generation sees a lot of things that are wrong, but they believe in authenticity. What’s the truth, what are you doing to help the next generation?”

Peace Hyde, media personality, Forbes Africa and CNBC

In 2012, Peace Hyde left her role as an educator in England and moved to Ghana where her parents are from. Though the move was bittersweet it was just what she needed to reconnect to her Ghanaian roots.

Seven years later, Peace Hyde has become an international phenomenon who is the head of Digital, Media and Partnerships for Forbes Africa and has been featured on CNN and Essence.

“I still can’t even explain it,” she told LIVE FM, a local radio station in Ghana. “I’ve been saying I want to come home but I didn’t know whether to come on holidays or to move. I knew I wanted to come back, I was sitting in the classroom one day and I just got a strong feeling to go back.”

When she is not interviewing the continent’s billionaires, she spends her free time running Aim Higher Africa, a non-profit she founded that aims to equip young entrepreneurs with the skills needed to foster and transform their ideas into tangible, concrete businesses.

She has been awarded Female News Presenter of the Year by the People’s Choice Awards and was shortlisted as one of 200 leaders to be part of the inaugural class of the Obama Foundation Leaders program.

Written by Zaina Adamu

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