Most globally recognized Nigerians right now – living and dead

Nigeria has produced many individuals who have gained global recognition for their contributions in various fields, including literature, music, film, sports, and activism.

How we came up with our list

Measuring global recognition can be complex as it involves both quantitative and qualitative factors. To come up with this list, we took a lot of factors into consideration, top of which include:

  • Media Coverage: We tracked how often the individual is mentioned in international news outlets, magazines, and online platforms. The number of appearances on international TV, radio, and podcasts was also taken into account.
  • Awards and Honors: We counted the number and prestige of international awards and recognitions received. Instances of being shortlisted or nominated for major global awards were also considered even if the person did not win.
  • Influence and Impact: This is a more qualitative factor. Here, we tried to measure and analyse the person’s impact on international policies, regulations, and industry standards. We also tried to analyse cultural impact by assessing their contributions to global culture, including the arts, fashion, literature, and music.
According to our in-house study, here are the current most globally recognized Nigerians:

These individuals have made significant contributions in their respective fields and have helped to place Nigeria on the global stage. Their achievements reflect the talent, resilience, and cultural richness of Nigeria and its people.


  1. Chinua Achebe: Known as the father of African literature, Achebe’s seminal work, Things Fall Apart, is one of the most widely read books in African literature and has been translated into numerous languages.
  2. Wole Soyinka: The first African to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986, Soyinka is renowned for his plays, poetry, and essays that address themes of oppression, tyranny, and the struggle for human rights.
  3. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: A contemporary novelist and feminist, Adichie has gained international acclaim for her novels such as Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah. Her TED Talk “We Should All Be Feminists” also received widespread recognition, including earning her a collaboration with singer Beyoncé.


  1. Fela Kuti: The pioneer of Afrobeat music, Fela Kuti is celebrated not only for his musical innovation but also for his political activism against the Nigerian government.
  2. Burna Boy: A modern Afro-fusion artist, Burna Boy has gained international fame, winning a Grammy Award for his album Twice as Tall and collaborating with numerous global artists.
  3. Wizkid: One of Nigeria’s biggest music stars, Wizkid has achieved international success with hit songs and collaborations with artists like Drake and Beyoncé.


  1. Genevieve Nnaji: Nnaji is a leading actress and filmmaker in Nollywood, Nigeria’s film industry. Her directorial debut, Lionheart, was the first Nigerian film to be acquired by Netflix.
  2. Chiwetel Ejiofor: Although primarily based in the UK, Ejiofor, of Nigerian descent, is an acclaimed actor known for his roles in films such as 12 Years a Slave, for which he received an Academy Award nomination.


  1. Hakeem Olajuwon: A retired professional basketball player, Olajuwon is considered one of the greatest centres in NBA history and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
  2. Kanu Nwankwo: A former professional footballer, Kanu is one of Nigeria’s most famous athletes, known for his time with Ajax, Arsenal, and the Nigerian national team.

Activism and Social Impact

  1. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: An economist and international development expert, Okonjo-Iweala made history as the first woman and first African to become the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
  2. Amina J. Mohammed: Serving as the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mohammed is a prominent advocate for sustainable development and gender equality.


  1. Peter Obi: The only politician on this list, Peter Obi served as the Governor of Anambra State in southeastern Nigeria from 2006 to 2014. While his tenure was often praised for significant improvements in infrastructure, education, and healthcare within the state, it is his running in the 2023 elections as the presidential candidate for the Labour Party (LP) where he garnered massive support, particularly among younger voters and urban dwellers, that elevated his international stardom, earning him a spot on this list.
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