TIME Magazine has published its annual Most Influential People list for 2019, naming South African president Cyril Ramaphosa and sports star Caster Semenya among the world’s top influencers.
TIME has positioned its list as an assortment of people who are shaping and influencing the world around them. “It is a community of hundreds of global leaders, many of whom support and challenge one another,” the magazine said.
The 2019 iteration features top influencers from around the world across different fields and sectors – from political heavyweights like US president Donald Trump and religious leaders like Pope Francis, to world renowned entertainers like Ariana Grande and online celebrities like Twitch streamer Ninja.
Each person listed is accompanied by a write-up from another influencer or correspondent, explaining exactly why they have been featured.
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa was chosen for weathering “vicious infighting” within the ANC to tackle the unenviable task of rooting out the corruption that has come to the fore over the last decade.
“Vicious infighting in his African National Congress party leaves him vulnerable to a coup, or perhaps an ouster in elections on May 8.
“For all that, Ramaphosa has kept his characteristic chuckle and his knack for focusing on the bigger picture,” said TIME correspondent,Vivienne Walt.
South African sports star Caster Semenya also made the list in 2019 – not only for her records on the track, but also for her resilience to the politics surrounding who she is.
Semenya has broken the binary of “male” and “female” in athletics, and is fighting against moves by regulatory bodies to define athletes by their biological features and hormone levels.
“If successful, Semenya’s effort could open the door for all who identify as women to compete in track events without having to first medically lower their testosterone levels below a proposed limit,” said two-time Olympic gold medalist, Edwin Moses.
“However it is addressed, Semenya will have already made a singular historical contribution to our understanding of biological sex.”
Other South Africans to make the list in previous years include Daily Show host Trevor Noah in 2018, South African medical doctor and AIDS researcher, Glenda Gray in 2017, and professor Lee Berger and Wits scientists for their work on homo naledi in 2016.
You can read the full TIME influencer list here.