2020 has been a year! All of us made our way into it with different goals and aspirations, sure it was going to go just as we planned. But life had cards up its sleeves. Of course we’re talking about the coronavirus, how it changed all of our realities, taught us new lessons about life and living.
It would be disingenuous to not mention how difficult the year has been. So many of us have lost loved ones, jobs, opportunities, sunk financially. But through it all has been the silver lining, the little wins: the insistence on a shared humanity. See the protests, for example: the #EndSARS protests, the Black Lives Matter and #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd protests, and all the protests across Africa—all of them showing that people across the world weren’t just going to sit and take injustice, that we were all ready to fight for what’s right, for a better life, even while a global pandemic reshaping the world.
So, today, just like we do on the last day of every year, we have come to celebrate, to clink glasses and make merry about those silver linings, those little joys we snatched. And, of course, we’re here to celebrate you, for sticking with us through it all, continuing to make this place your home. Thank you. Thank you.
So please, join us as we raise our glasses, as we celebrate our notable moments of 2020:
- In March, Uche was named one of Forbes Africa’s 50 most powerful women in Africa.
Vanguard named Uche one of the Top 10 Nigerian CEOs under 40.
- In January, Desola taught participants at the REDx Bootcamp how to create viral content on social media.
Uche was one of Avance Media 100 Most Influential Women in Africa 2020.
- Mercy hosted the Africa Teens Summit launch, engaging teenagers with questions about the future, career, talent and passion.
- Desola was a part of the second cohort of Poynter Institute’s 2020 Leadership Academy for Women In Media.
- Isoken organised and hosted the Black Girl Profit skincare session.
- Mercy’s phenomenal year with the TEDxLagos Conversation series: Responding to the pandemic; the TEDxLagos virtual gathering where she worked with major partners like Union Bank; and collaborating with TEDWomen International New York.
- IK graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Centre For Social Impact Strategy after completing his Executive Program in Social Impact Strategy.
- Isoken was a speaker at the Path to Profitability Summit and was the Costume Design and Associate Producer of The Smart Money Woman TV show.
- Uche Pedro attended Tommy Hilfiger’s TommyNow show in London and interviewed Mr Hilfiger himself.
- Desola was a moderator at the TEDx Lagos workshop hosted by BellaNaija and tagged, “Storytelling for our Future History Books.”
- Uche shared some wisdom at the inaugural Harvard Kennedy School Alumni Association of Nigeria, Africa Policy Dialogue Series.
- BellaNaija successfully ran the Facebook and BellaNaija success story campaign which spotlighted 6 thriving business owners across West Africa.
- Mary jetted off to Milan at the beginning of the year where she attended the biggest textile exhibition and shopped till she dropped!
- For the 5th year running, BellaNaija gave back to the community with the #BNDoGood campaign.
- #BNxDubai Tourism: Tomi and Motunde got to explore the City of Gold (Dubai) for 3 days.
- BellaNaija ran the Living in Bondage campaign which went on to win several awards and became a reference point for a lot of brand campaigns.
- BellaNaija had an exclusive partnership with the producers of Rattlesnake: The Ahanna Story and Nneka the Pretty Serpent, two of the biggest Nigerians movies this year.
- Rose took Jamaica in December, giving us a glimpse into how much of a beauty life on the island is.
- BellaNaija continued its years of partnership with MAC Cosmetics, with a lovely campaign run by BellaNaija Style.
- Desola attended the Americanah night of fun and laughter hosted by Chimamanda.
- Desola was one of the panelists for @emmanuelikubese’s @kyaddala private screening and panel discussion at the US Embassy.
- #BNInNamibia: Rose traveled to the sleepy and beautiful country of Namibia for 9 days.
- Superstar Desola moderated not one but two! #SMWLagos sessions hosted by BellaNaija.
- Niyi spoke and answered questions at the Social Media Week session – Creating Stories that Connect with your Audience.
- In December, Runor had a two-day solo exhibition tagged “Oyibo Juju & The Frames of My Mind.”
Causes Actively Supported and Promoted
- #EndSARS: While Nigerian youths went out en masse to protest police brutality in the country, BellaNaija consistently documented the protests, encouraging protesters to exercise their rights peacefully.
- Active citizenry: In a year that saw so many youths wake to active citizenry, BellaNaija encouraged people to go out to vote, sharing details about candidates and explaining how to carry out the one’s civic duty: voting.
- This year, BellaNaija took a break from publishing in honour of Tina, Uwa, and everyone facing injustice in the world.
- BN Weddings ran free ads for vendors worldwide during the difficult first wave of the pandemic.
- Black Lives Matter: As the world fought against racial discrimination and the killing of unarmed black people in America, we lent our voices to the fight against racism in the world.
- During Alopecia Awareness Month, BellaNaija had a discussion with Tolulope Jasmine Oguns who is creating a community for Africans living with Alopecia.
- Committed to ensuring equal access to comfort and joy for everyone in a post-COVID world, BellaNaija, on the International Day of People Living with Disabilities, taught how we may build a better, more disability-inclusive world.
- African Movements: As many Africans took to the streets to demand better in their various countries, BellaNaija amplified those voices to ensure they are heard and that action is taken to ensure a better African future.
- With #BNShareYourHustle, we spotlit several entrepreneurs and helped promote their businesses.
- As a brand intent on equality, we supported institutions that promote inclusivity across the world, including WARIF, HDI and NAACP.
- BellaNaija Style ran free ads for vendors worldwide during the protests.
BellaNaija Features throughout 2020 brought to you the latest literacy scoop, opinion pieces, and contributions from every part of Africa. And in a year where we saw several movements across the world, pieces trying to make sense of this cultural shift were abound on BellaNaija Features.
This year, BellaNaija Features churned out over 200 essays, just for you. From lending our voices to the Black Lives Matter movement, talking about the #EndSARS protests, insecurity in Nigeria, what’s happening in other countries, living with disabilities, Biafra, love and sex, COVID-19, BN Features came through for all BellaNaija readers, as usual.
At BellaNaija, we recognise that people who have lost their lives through insurgency in Nigeria were humans who had dreams and wanted to make the world better the little way they could. They have left behind people who loved them greatly. BN Features came up with In Loving Memory to give people the opportunity to eulogize their loved ones and humanize their stories
This year, we brought you the story of Tom who was misgendered at birth, Thelma who is intersex, Vivian who is living with a disability, the Pink Panther, and many other interesting Living Your Difference stories.
Every year, BN Features invite BNers to talk about their year and 2020 was no different. This year, as one big family that went through a difficult year together, BNers shared their wins, joy, pain, losses, successes and lessons through it all.
Our Amazing Contributors
See, our contributors are simply the best! We love and appreciate y’all. From dishing out enlightening and highly educating content to lending their voices to important issues in Nigeria and beyond, we say a special thank you to every one of you, from Nimi Akinkugbe of Money Matters with Nimi, to Oris Aigbokhaevbolo, Firecracker Toyeen, Laetitia Mugerwa, Temi Olajide, Uzezi Agboge, Mfonobong Inyang, and many more contributors we haven’t mentioned, we say a mighty thank you. We can’t wait to read from you in 2021. Bring it on!
Who among us doesn’t get doe eyed when confronted with a love story? Thankfully, the weddings team was committed to bringing us love stories even in a year that tried hard to separate couples.
- BellaNaija Weddings hosted 12 conversations with 12 incredible vendors across 6 cities.
- BN Weddings got new contributors!
- BellaNaija Weddings Freshers’ Week where wedding vendors who had never featured before on the BN Weddings platform were given the spotlight for a full week.
- #AtHomewithBN: From hearing amazing love stories to spotlighting your favorite couples, BNers enjoyed every bit of the Love Stories Series.
- #AtHomewithBN: The Wedding Party Series was lit! BellaNaijarians had an amazing time awwing to Johnny Drille‘s music or vibing to the latest Owambe jams.
- BellaNaija Style hosted #BNSDigitalSummit 2020!
- Mary represented BN at the biggest textile fair in Milan – Milano Unica.
- Mary was a speaker at The LagosMums P.O.W.E.R Training in partnership with the Department of State’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs’ Providing Opportunities for Women’s Economic Rise (POWER) Initiative and U.S.Consulate Lagos.
- Mary trained 35 young media practitioners at the REDx Training Bootcamp alongside X3M Media founder Steve Babaeko, CNN Africa’s digital head Stephanie Busari and more.
- BellaNaija Style partnered with MAC Cosmetics Africa for the 3rd year in a row for their MAC Loves Lips Campaign #BNSxMACLovesLips
- BN Style launched BNStyle LIVE during the lockdown, a series of Instagram LIVE sessions with key industry players on navigating the new normal.
- BellaNaija Style hosted a panel at the Social Media Week Lagos with Mary as the moderator.
- Our exclusive interviews with Nigerian stars working in the diaspora, including David Oyelowo, Weruche Opia of I May Destroy You, and Folake Olowofoyeku of Bob Hearts Abishola.
- You had to have followed our (if we do say so ourselves) impressive coverage of the BBNaija Lockdown season, including the exclusive interviews with BBNaija stars, Laycon, Nengi, Ozo, Erica, Dorathy, Tolanibaj, Brighto, and everyone else.
- Oluwadunsin with (so many!) fire essays on everything ranging from politics to book reviews.
- IK‘s unbelievable consistency with 104 entries for BellaNaija MCM and WCW.
- Our exclusive interviews with established stars Beverly Naya, DJ Cuppy, Toolz, and Simi.
- More exclusive interviews, this time with rising Nollywood star Stan Nze, budding singer Mavin’s Crayon, and first time filmmakers The Equality Hub on their movie, Ife.
- Damilola giving us back to back with #BNRSVP – Virtual Events this Week, making sure that even during the lockdown we’re still not missing out!
- Runor making sure all our content gets the right attention with his fire graphics.
- Mercy and Tomi making sure we don’t stay deprived of love, bring those sweet stories in from every corner.
- Shoutout to the social media and editorial team for their timely coverage of events like the Grammys and the AMVCAs.
- The #EndSARS movement was nothing like Nigerians had ever seen before or even thought possible; thanks to the Features and Editorial teams for helping us make sense of it.
- Rose and Motunde keeping it together in the business department during a pandemic!
- Ah, imagine forgetting our Chief Whip and Oga at the Top, Julian, who during the lockdown saw to the mental health of the team with lovely check-ins and food deliveries.
- BellaNaija online Instagram page grew by 400,000 followers this year (from 1.2m at the beginning of the year to 1.6m now)
- Our Twitter grew by 100,000 followers (from 1.6m to 1.7m)
- Our Facebook page grew by over 120,000 followers to about 800,000 followers.
- BN Weddings is now at a whooping 4.7 million followers on Instagram.
- Our #AtHomeWithBN series during the lockdown had almost 8.5m Twitter Impressions, over 600,000 video views and over 38 hours of insightful and impactful video hours across health & wellness, family, entrepreneurship, fashion/style, entertainment segments among others.
The BN Team
The super-brilliant and amazing BellaNaija team had a lot to say about how the year 2020 went for them professionally and personally, and what they look forward to in 2021.
Uche – Founder and CEO of BellaNaija says:
This year was definitely not what we all expected but I’m still super grateful. I’m thankful for everyone reading this. Our BellaNaija community was our bedrock this year. I am so inspired by everyone who used their voices to drive change.
In the midst of all this, I graduated with a Master degree and as a Mason fellow from the Harvard Kennedy School. It was super emotional because going back to school in my 30s and as a mum took a lot of sacrifice and tons of support from my amazing family. A moment I will treasure forever is being the recipient of the Josephine S Vernon award during the Mason fellowship graduation ceremony, it was totally unexpected and I will be forever grateful.
So, thank you 2020, dear 2021, please be kind to us all.
Julian – Chief Whip and Oga at the Top says:
2020! The year we persevered. I’ll like to just say “thank you”. “Thank you” for staying with BellaNaija and being our “ride or die” “Thank you” for choosing life. “Thank you” for being kind to yourself. And “thank you” for being hopeful for a better 2021. A year to dream big and celebrate your little wins.
Here’s to a better future in love, life, growth, and great vibes
Mercy – Editor, BellaNaija Weddings says:
2020 was a year of growth and gratitude!
Tomi – Team Member, BellaNaija Weddings says:
2020 has been an interesting year. It came along with sweet, sour, and spicy moments and of course a pandemic. In all, I’m super grateful that I am here better and stronger. Thankful for the experiences and learnings. Looking forward to a brave 2021.
Osas – Team Member, BellaNaija Weddings says:
2020, for me, started with a lot of uncertainty, and it really went on to be “that year.” But beyond that, 2020 is that year that I’ll forever be grateful for, as one where my journey to self-discovery really began. And it came with a lot of lessons too.
The most profound of these lessons for me is that anything is indeed possible and beautiful things can come out of the most gloomy situations.
This time last year, all I could think of was being able to do what I love and find fulfillment from it, and 2020 availed me that opportunity. I can’t be thankful enough for the opportunity I’ve had, to learn and grow. I am super excited for the most amazing team.
I’m totally looking forward to the new year. 2021 is for more growth and learning and to rid me completely of self-doubt and embrace the idea of endless possibilities.
Runor – Creative Team Lead says:
2020 showed me the importance of having support in whatever you decide to do and just life in general. This was one hectic year but I’m super grateful for the wins, especially for my first solo exhibition.
Rose – Adsales Team Lead says:
It’s been a very interesting year. One thing I have learned is the amount of tenacity we all have in us. The desire to move forward and make the best out of any situation. I am looking forward to a beautiful 2021 and to accomplishing more goals.
Motunde – Team Member, BellaNaija Ads says:
My 2020 has been a mixed-feeling year. Starting smooth and along the line, taking a turn for us all. However, in this mix, I was able to weigh my strengths and count my blessings. Firstly, I was given the responsibility to train and being able to achieve this amidst the pandemic made me know success is within; it only depends on how you are able to let it show. Also, representing the brand on an international trip was a major highlight. Mostly, I’m thankful for my life, family, friends, and BN.
Adaugo – Team Member, BellaNaija Ads says:
2020 reminded me that people are more important than things. Looking forward to 2021 and the growth it offers.
Olushola – Team Member, BellaNaija Ads says:
2020! Phew! Irrespective of how the year went, I’m super grateful to be alive and well. I earnestly look forward to a nose-mask-wearing-free 2021.
Adesola – Head of Content and Digital Ventures says:
If I have anything to say about 2020, it’d be about the importance of having amazing support in everything you do from your professional to your personal life because 2020 was THAT kind of year. And so, I’m looking forward to a 2021 that I can also conquer. Because, hey, I survived a pandemic and actually thrived. 2021 has to be a piece of cake (no jinxing).
IK – BN Social Media Boss says:
2020! It’s been a roller-coaster, really. A lot of highs and lows, however, I’m grateful for the wins, especially completing an Executive Education program at the University of Pennsylvania. In all, I’m grateful.
Olatunji Oluwadamilola – Editorial team member says:
It’s no doubt that 2020 has been full of world-shifting events, but I survived through it all. I am thankful for my relatively good health, family, friends and the BN Team. For me, 2020 has been a year of self-reflection, gratitude and growth.
Good old fashion phone calls have gone up this year, and I appreciate that someone is always on the other line to give me advice, listen to me vent, or help me work through a challenge.
I am wishing everyone a happy and safe 2020 holiday season!
They said we shouldn’t overhype 2021, but I’m looking forward to a bright year, more opportunities, much bigger achievements and milestones.
Lee Ada’Eze – Editorial team member says:
Even with the pandemic and all that has happened in the unforgettable 2020, this year has been about growth, consistency and gratitude for me.
I decided to start writing last year to avoid going crazy. One year later, I’m on the BellaNaija team and I don’t even understand how I got here so quickly. I’m grateful to God for life, growth, the so supportive BN team, my filmmaking career, friends, family, and everything in-between.
I’m super positive and excited about 2021 and all that it has in store.
Niyi – Features Team Lead says:
It’s been a year, hasn’t it? We started out with so many plans, but so many of those had to be overhauled, the coronavirus coming and teaching us that the status quo, life as we lived it, was a privilege and not a right. Still, one has to be thankful for all the wins one was able to snatch. Becoming Features Editor of this hallowed publication was a huge deal, particularly in a year that demanded we make sense, with essays, the happenings around us. And so many happenings—the #EndSARS protests, other youth-driven movements across Africa; I’m proud of the work BellaNaija Features has done, together with our wonderful and consistent contributors, to make sense of and document all of them. On a personal note, it’s been a happy year for me, mostly because I was accepted into the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Sad that I wasn’t able to resume in August (thanks, again, to the coronavirus), but I’m excited to begin in January, start 2021 anew.
Oluwadunsin – Team Member, BellaNaija Features says:
2020 was a mixture of the good, the bad, the awesome, and everything in between. From joining the editorial team of a new literary magazine to my story being featured in one of the magazines I admire, 2020 was definitely good to me, although it could be better. I hope 2021 will be a year of career advancement, personal development, and financial stability. Special shoutout to all #EndSARS protesters, doctors, nurses, and everyone fighting the Coronavirus, y’all are the real MVPs.
Isoken – Editor-at-large, BN Style says:
2020 was a year of firsts for us and for many of our BellaStylistas across the globe. Even if we had major upsets like Lagos Fashion Week and most of the cultural/arts season being cancelled due to Covid-19. I’m thankful and focused on what we did achieve including our inaugural BN Style Summit, growing our audience on the site and social media and welcoming new contributors and emerging voices . We laid the groundwork for major growth in 2021 and even though it’s neither sweet, as this marks my last year with BN Style. I’m happy and super proud of what we have achieved and I look forward to passing the baton on. I’m so excited for the future!
Mary – Fashion Babe at BellaNaija Style says:
2020 taught me to never take any person, moment, or experience for granted and that’s the energy I’m taking into the new year. It was a year of failures and successes, wins and losses but I’m grateful for it all. If you’re reading this, Welldone, You survived 2020. Here’s to a brighter 2021!
Sandra – Team Member, BellaNaija Style says:
My major achievement has to be getting a job at BellaNaija and working with the style team. I am grateful for the opportunity that came my way this year. 2020 taught me resilience, hard work and the power of consistency, and I am ready to take all that I have learned into the next year.
To all our lovely BellaNaijarians, we say thank you for following us, sharing our content and engaging with us. We wouldn’t have come this far without you. Thank you for being a part of the BN Family and contributing to our success. We cannot wait to sail through the new year with you.
Let’s do this together!