OkayAfrica (stylised as okayafrica) is a digital media platform dedicated to African culture, music and politics. Founded in 2011 by Vanessa Wruble and Ginny Suss as a sister site to The Roots frontman Questlove’s Okayplayer, the site has become a popular destination for Africans on the continent and in the diaspora. Today, OkayAfrica is the largest US-based website focusing on new and progressive music, art, politics, and culture from the African continent.
In an interview with One Magazine, OkayAfrica Vice President Ginny Suss, stated,
We realized that there is no place on the web that acted as a hub for all the new [African] music, culture, art and politics and the amazing culture that was being generated on the continent that was really relevant to youth culture today. We came up with the concept of creating a one-stop shop, interactive community where our main focus is new progressive African music and also feature culture, film, art and lifestyle.
OkayAfrica created a digital space for modern African music and culture. In an interview with Black Enterprise Magazine, CEO Abiola Oke underscores the sites popularity as a sign that African entertainment and music culture is going through a golden age online. At the age of 34, he was appointed CEO of OkayAfrica.
OkayAfrica is one of the few websites that predominantly cover and center modern Afrobeats.
OkayAfrica is also an event promoter and producer. On July 29, 2016, OkayAfrica organized Okayafrica: Afrobeat x Afrobeats, a concert headlined by Nigerian pop star Davido and Brooklyn-based Afrobeat band Antibalas at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors, America’s longest running free outdoor festival. This was the first time in history that African musicians had headlined the festival.
Since its founding in 2011, OkayAfrica has gained a strong following with Afropolitans, particularly those in the diaspora. The term is used to describe OkayAfrica’s target audience, a new generation of Africans who are creative, politically aware, multicultural, and with roots firmly on the African continent.
Today, the site attracts 1 million unique page views a month, mostly from the USA, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. Additionally, the site offers different editions, covering all 54 countries in Africa to cater to the complexity of the continent.
In 2017 okayafrica created a platform to highlight 100 leading leading African women. The list has been published each year since then. The list is assembled in ten categories STEM, media, music, literature, TV and film, sports and wellness, style and beauty, business and economics, politics and activism and art. The 2019 list was dedicated to youth culture and it was announced at the BAMcafe featuring Moonchild Sanelly. The emphasis was to find women who were disrupting their own local culture whilst at the same time demanding equal access to the global stage.
Accolades from African writers and intellectuals
The site has received praise from African artists and intellectuals. Nigerian sociologist Oreoluwa Somolu notes that one of the biggest selling points is that it's made by Africans for Africans. She believes OkayAfrica allows Africans to exercise control over their own narratives in mainstream media. Congolese Author, Alain Mabanckou writes that platforms like Okayafrica are important because they promote accessibility to information and participation in cultural, political, and social dialogue. Cameroonian Intellectual Achille Mbembe praised OkayAfrica at the Goethe-Institut’s African Futures Festival in Johannesburg for promoting knowledge production amongst African youth.
- "Young & Disrupting: Okayafrica CEO Talks Journey From Wall Street to Emerging Culture Brand". Black Enterprise. Retrieved 2017-01-15.
- "Rethink Africa Party | Yale Greenberg World Fellows". worldfellows.yale.edu. Retrieved 2017-01-15.
- "Okayafrica: Staying in touch with youth culture in Africa". ONE. 2013-06-27. Archived from the original on 2017-01-18. Retrieved 2017-01-15.
- "Africa: Okay Africa Wants to 'Project African Talent to a Global Audience in a Different Way' - Online and Video Site With a Million Uniques and Live Events". Digital Content Africa (London). 2016-08-22. Retrieved 2017-01-15.
- "NYC Will Never Forget 'Okayafrica: Afrobeat x Afrobeats' with Davido + Antibalas at Lincoln Center Out of Doors". OkayAfrica. 2016-09-09. Retrieved 2017-01-15.
- "OKAYAFRICA - 100 WOMEN". OKAYAFRICA's 100 WOMEN. Retrieved 2019-10-22.
- "South African Women Shine On OkayAfrica's 100 Women List". HuffPost UK. 2018-03-05. Retrieved 2019-10-24.
- "Moonchild Sanelly". BAM.org. Retrieved 2019-10-24.
- Somolu, Oreoluwa (2007-01-01). "'Telling Our Own Stories': African Women Blogging for Social Change". Gender and Development. 15 (3): 477–489. JSTOR 20461231.
- Mabanckou, Alain; Thomas, Dominic (2008-01-01). "New Technologies and the Popular: Alain Mabanckou's Blog". Research in African Literatures. 39 (4): 58–71. JSTOR 30135303.
- "Discussing African Futures With Achille Mbembe". OkayAfrica. 2015-11-09. Retrieved 2017-01-15.