MEDIA personality Luis Munana said it was an honour to be featured on Forbes Africa’s ’30 Under 30′ list for 2019.

Munana, in an interview with The Namibian yesterday said he could not contain his excitement when receiving the accolade.

“I was very shocked when they said ‘we are putting you on the list’. I didn’t think I would achieve such a feat at 27.” He has been selected as the only Namibian on Forbes Africa’s ’30 Under 30′ list for 2019.

The Rundu-born 27-year-old was placed among 29 others in the ‘creative’ category for his work in Namibian media, including his role as a children’s television show founder. Every year, Forbes Africa, a South Africa-based entrepreneurship magazine, does extensive research to find Africans below the age of 30 who are excelling in the business, technology, sports and creative industries.

Forbes Africa’s Karen Mwendera, who worked on this year’s catalogue of pioneers, outlined the selection process. “If we’re looking at someone like Munana and how he was considered for the list, we had to go through the impact of what he does. That was looking at ‘Waka Waka Moo’, the programme he has for children, and how it has translated into all the different Namibian languages. It has quite a wide reach,” Mwendera said.

Apart from the show, Forbes Africa zoomed in on other projects Munana undertook in his career.
He has previously modelled on international shows in London and New York, co-founded Voigush Africa, a lifestyle magazine programme which showcased the J&B Met and Windhoek Fashion Week, and was selected in the Namibian Business Hall of Fame in 2015, among other feats.

“The first thing I asked is ‘should I get on the list? Are you going to disclose my net worth?’ They said no. The point of the list is to highlight African potential earners who are making a change, not only in their country, but around Africa,” Munana said.

His children’s programme ‘Waka Waka Moo’ was launched in 2018, and is aimed at four to 12-year-olds. It features prominent Namibian personalities who narrate educational messages and folk tales through the show’s puppet characters.

‘Waka Waka Moo’ airs every Wednesday at 15h30, and repeats on Saturday at 07h30 on NBC1. Because of ‘Waka Waka Moo’, Munana attended the Marché International des Programmes de Télévision (MIPTV) at Cannes, France, in April last year. MIPTV is an annual event that strives at striking distribution and co-production deals and networking with key players in the global entertainment industry. The show also screened at the Cannes film festival in the same year. Munana has likewise partnered with Namib Mills’ Sugar King brand to empower and uplift children around the country by promoting the show’s characters on the packaging.

Munana believes the Forbes Africa achievement has raised the bar in his career. He shares the list with South African athletics star Caster Semenya; Mohammed Dewji, the youngest billionaire in Africa; and South African media personalities Boity Thulo and Thando Thabete. Munana added that it is time the spotlight shone on people from small towns such as Rundu.

“I’m glad I could change the narrative of the people of Rundu because usually, people there aren’t considered. We are sidelined a lot. That’s just the reality of it. I aim to stop this. I aim to do even more; this is just the beginning for me,” Munana mused.

SELECTING AFRICAN STARS

Forbes Africa uses a strenuous elimination process to establish a list of luminaries for their highly anticipated ’30 Under 30′ list.
“The first part is people submitting applications. They either nominate someone or themselves. From there, we vet the applications,” Mwendera explained.

In the second round of the process, candidates submit documents, including photos, details of their finances, as well as statistics which support the impact of their ventures or career earnings, particularly for the sports and creatives categories.
“What we look at apart from the earnings is whether you’re someone who’s a role model, or if you’ve got a huge impact on the community. Are you employing people? Are you creating jobs?”
Once this is done, curators such as Mwendera select the final list for each category, which is presented to the editor and subeditor. They give the go-ahead, and the group is further vetted by judges outside of the company.
“If you’re in the financial, business and tech categories, your finances also get vetted by a private partner, SNG Grant Thornton,” Mwendera said, adding that growth margins, sustainability, employees and other aspects are looked at.
“Your social media counts for something. We don’t just contact the people you give us as referees, we contact outside people to say ‘how is this person changing their country or community?’”

Forbes Africa previously recognised beauty brand KiyomiSandz founder, Sandra Mwiihangele, and water purification company Anticor managing director Thomas Duncan on their ’30 Under 30′ lists.

-The Namibian, 2019

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