Dear BellaNaijarians, it’s that time of the year again! The time where we clink our glasses and say cheers to a year well spent.
2021 has been that year! Phew. After the COVID-19 pandemic that almost brought the world to its knees in 2020, many people started 2021 with a less optimistic view of how the year would be. Would a vaccine be created? Would it work? How fast would it work? Will the world ever be free of COVID-19?
We’ll be dishonest if we do not mention how difficult the year has been for so many people: some lost their loved ones, lost their jobs, investments went down the drain, relationships went sour, economies sunk, uncertainties hung thickly in the air and fear stuck to the helms of many people’s garments.
But through it all has been the silver lining: in the midst of so much injustice is an insistence on our shared humanity; as the pandemic raged on, African innovators stepped up to mitigate the risks of the the pandemic in their countries; as economies sunk, people extended a helping hand to others and helped them stay afloat; in the midst of so much helplessness, people showed up and fought for those who have been unjustly murdered or harmed.
It is probably safe to say that 2021, for many, has been a year of recovery. A year of picking up the pieces our lives had become, coupling them together and forging ahead. A year of grit and resilience, peace and tranquility, innovation and creativity, humanity and shared values, love and the fight for justice.
So, today, like we do every year, we are focusing on the beautiful moments we’ve had this year, popping our champagne and raising our glasses to these silver linings. We’re also celebrating you, BellaNaijarians, for making BellaNaija your home, sticking with us through this year, engaging with and sharing our content. We’re also raising our glasses to your wins, to moments that made you throw your heads back and laugh, to moments your eyes softened in love or moments you pushed further and stretched yourself.
So please join us as we celebrate our notable moments of 2021:
- In April, Uche was named, in the category of media-preneurs, as one of YNaija’s 100 Most Influential People in Media list for 2021.
- BellaNaija won ‘Blog of the Year’ award at The Beatz Awards 2021
- Uche joined the advisory board of Africa No Filter.
- Uche joined the Harvard Kennedy School Fund Executive Council.
- Mary Edoro represented BellaNaija at the ARISE Fashion Weekend in Dubai.
- Damilola spoke at a webinar organized by 9to5Chick on the topic: How to Write a Media-Worthy Thought Leadership Content.
- Mary Edoro was interviewed on various media outlets including SilverBird TV, TVC News, Lagos Talks FM and Smooth 98.1 FM where she sparked a conversation about championing the BellaNaija Style Declutter & Donate Campaign, an ongoing project that aims to promote sustainable fashion in Africa, and discussed BellaNaija Style’s latest initiatives.
- Uche had an IG Live conversation with the COO of Meta (formerly Facebook).
- BellaNaija Style joined the International Women’s Day through the BNS Women’s Month Digital Festival.
- BellaNaija Style, through the BNS Declutter Donate Campaign, promoted the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.
- Uche met the Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, at the Reykjavik 2021 Global Leaders Forum
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Adaugo, Osas, and Damilola participated and graduated from the McKinsey Forward Program.
Adaugo hosted her first Writing Class 1.0
- Uche was listed among the French African Foundation Young Leaders of 2021, in the media industry.
- BellaNaija successfully completed the #AfricaMovesInnovation project by spotlighting the stories of remarkable innovators in Nigeria, Burkina Faso and South Africa in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s 2021 Goalkeepers Report.
- BellaNaija Style in the news: The BellaNaija Style Digital Summit was featured on BusinessDay and got a full-page feature on the October 16th edition of ThisDay Newspapers.
- Uche Pedro talked about Wizkid and Afrobeats in Wizkid’s 10-episode docuseries titled “A Superstar Made in Lagos“.
- BellaNaija was mentioned in Arese Ugwu’s Smart Money Woman Series.
- Uche was mentioned in Kemi Adetiba‘s King Of Boys (2)
Causes Actively Supported and Promoted
- For the International day of the Girl Child, BellaNaija joined in the #VowForGirls campaign by VOW to stand up for the rights of girls around the world.
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- With #BNShareYourHustle, we spotlit several entrepreneurs and helped promote their businesses.
- Through the 16 Days of Activism Against gender-Based Violence, we posted a quote a day to enlighten people about the campaign, its importance, and why we should all join in the fight against GBV.
- During the mental health awareness month, we hosted conversations on mental health via tweet chats.
- For #worldcancerday, we wrote the stories of Solumkolia and Abigail; 2 women who won the fight against cancer.
- As a brand intent on equality, we supported institutions that promote inclusivity across the world, including STER, DonateNG and Slum2School, and many more.
- We shared content and wrote an essay in remembrance of lives lost during the 2020 #EndSARS nation-wide protests.
- We joined in the Olympic spirit by celebrating all our Nigerian athletes at Tokyo 2020 with ‘BN Celebrates Olympics Excellence‘.
- BellaNaija Weddings hosted the first and second edition of the BellaNaija Weddings Freshers Week.
- BellaNaija Weddings, in collaboration with Union Bank, hosted the #Afreeunion proposal and the #Afreeunion wedding.
- Through the month of March, BellaNaija Weddings in collaboration with Golden Penny celebrated the longevity of happy marriages with NewlyNearly.
- BN Weddings introduced the How I knew she was the One Series
- BN Weddings, in collaboration with BellaNaija Features told the stories of couples who have been married for 20 years and above with the Ever After Series.
- BN Weddings introduced the What Happened to the Dress series
- BN Weddings Gratitude Month.
- In March, BellaNaija Style hosted the #BNSWomensMonth21; a 4-week event dedicated to celebrate the remarkable achievements of women in our industry, learn about their extraordinary contributions and uplift each other.
- BellaNaija Style successful had the 2nd edition of BellaNaija Style’s Digital Summit which received wide acclaim.
- BellaNaija Style launched the Declutter & Donate Campaign to encourage our audience to think better about their fashion choices.
- Hosted the BellaNaija Style x SUNLIGHT sustainably fashionable gathering for key stakeholders and influencers in the fashion industry to deliberate on fostering sustainability through a general mindset change on the re-rocking of clothes.
- Launched the first set of BNStyle Exclusives: A series of video interviews and owned BNS content with fashion and beauty industry leaders including Ruth E. Carter, Simone Cipriani, Idia Aisien, and more.
BellaNaija Features, throughout 2021, brought to you the latest literacy scoop, opinion pieces, and contributions from every part of Africa.
This year, BellaNaija Features churned out over 100 essays, just for you. From bringing you stories of cancer survivors to talking about governance, politics, insecurity, BN Features came through for all BellaNaija readers, as usual.
At BellaNaija, our prophets are being honoured right here and we give creatives their flowers while they are still alive. That’s why, in March, we introduced the BN Creatives’ Corner series to throw the spotlight on creatives in Africa, recognise their struggles, and acknowledge the amazing art they are feeding our souls with.
From trending topics on social media to controversial conversations on Twitter, this year, we gave you back-to-back hot and sizzling weekly articles with the BN Hot Topic.
Every year, BN Features invites BNers to talk about their year and this year 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.
This year, the BN Features team joined the BellaNaija Weddings team in celebrating love. Wiun!
Listen, when it comes to money matters, many of our youngies are having it rough – there’s one cousin here that needs money, one sister there needs her school fees paid. This year, we spotlit stories of young people who have the heavy weight of black tax on their shoulders, and how they are navigating through it all.
Our Human-Interest Stories
We are super proud of our human-interest stories this year. At BellaNaija, we focus on telling the stories that truly matter and we did just that in 2021. From Solumkolia and Abigail to Tunde Onakoya, John Amanam, Oluwafunke Oni, and many more, we brought you real, unfiltered and unfettered stories of people.
Our Amazing Contributors
Our contributors are super amazing. No cap! 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 ofMoney Matters with Nimi, to Oris Aigbokhaevbolo, Firecracker Toyeen, Laetitia Mugerwa, Akanna Okeke, Uzezi Agboge, Mfonobong Inyang, Titilayo Olurin, Adefolake Ayotunde-Salami, and many more contributors we haven’t mentioned, we say a mighty thank you. We can’t wait to read from you in 2022. So bring it on!
- Damilola, Lilian, IK, and Desmond gave us back-to-back exclusive interviews with stars including Idris Elba and Regina King for The Harder They Fall, RMD for Castle & Castle 2, Kemi Adetiba and the casts of King of Boys the Return of the King, Made Kuti, Chinedu Ikedieze and Osita Iheme (Aki and Paw Paw), DJ Zhinle, and so many others.
- Shoutout to the BBNaija team for their timely coverage of events impressive coverage of the BBNaija Shine Ya Eye season, including the exclusive interviews with BBNaija stars: Whitemoney, Pere, Maria, Arin, Angel, JMK, Liquorose, Nimi, Queen, Saga, Jaypaul and everyone else.
- This year, we introduced the BN Meet The Star where we spoke to the star actor of a buzzing movie, and got to know more about them and the movie they starred in.
- This year, we also re-introduced all the rising stars with the Discover with BN series.
- More shoutout to the social media and editorial team for their timely coverage of events like the #EndSARS memorial.
- Damilola giving us back to back with #BNRSVP; your go-to list for all the exciting events each weekend.
- Runor making sure all our content gets the right attention with his fire graphics.
- Oluwadunsin with fire essays on everything ranging from human interest stories, series, book reviews, and many more.
- Tomi and Osas making sure we don’t stay deprived of love, and bringing those enthralling love stories in from every corner.
- Omotunde and the business team ensuring that we keep making that dough at BN.
- We cannot forget our Clubhouse sessions hosted by Omotunde, Sandra, Oluwadunsin and Damilola.
- This year, we partnered with Global citizens, Goalkeepers 2021 Report, and many more.
- How can we forget our ever-serious HR, Pamela, who ensures that we are all taken kiaroff?
- Tiri gbosa for our COO and oga at the top, Julian, who keeps everything running smoothly.
We cannot forget our money-making, cash team; Motunde, Olusola, Adaugo, Collette, and Vivian who kept it together in the business department. This year, we had loads of partnerships with Leap Africa (YDOS), Lagos Cocktail Week (Lagos Cocktail Weekend), AMAA, Trace, Diageo x BBnaija), Glover App, YouTube (on its new feature called ‘Youtube shorts’ A cool way in creating short and fun videos), Playnetwork (for Aki and Paw Paw’s new movie), and so many more – all thanks to them.
- BellaNaija Weddings Instagram moved from 4.7 million to 5.1 million followers.
- BellaNaija Online Instagram page grew with 200,000 followers this year (from 1.6 to 1.8million)
- Our YouTube grew from 18k to 21k followers.
The BN Team
The super-talented and brilliant BellaNaija team had a lot to say about how the year 2021 went for them professionally and personally, and what they look forward to in 2022.
Uche – Founder and CEO of BellaNaija says:
At the beginning of 2021, we made a commitment to ‘do things that we’ve never been done before’ – game-changing experimental projects, we also decided to amplify our Pan-African social impact and finally – to have FUN!
We’ve had a phenomenal year, at different moments, we’ve had to pause in awe – it’s mind-blowing that all this happened in a calendar year.
I’m so thankful to God, our team, advisors, collaborators, partners and clients. Thank you.
Julian – COO says:
Excellence is not a personality, it is an attitude and it is built. This is what is made up of the BN team and we’ve all worked hard to be excellent, we make it look so effortless. My team made my 2021 exceptional, my team pulled through it all – the projects, the experiments, and so on. I can’t wait to do this again with the team in 2022. Go team BN.
Pamela – Human Resource Manager says:
“Love yourself enough to create an environment in your life that is conducive to the nourishment of your personal, spiritual, mental and professional growth. Allow yourself to let go of the people, thoughts, and situations that poison your well-being. Cultivate a vibrant surrounding and commit yourself to making choices that will help you release the greatest expression of your unique beauty and purpose.” I tweaked Steve Maraboli’s quote a bit to suit me, because this is the summary of 2021 for me.
IK – Content Lead says:
2021 was really good to me. From stepping into new terrain and working with the best team ever, I have been stretched in more ways than one. There’s been a lot of highs and lows, but each time, I am reminded of the amazing work we do at BN, and the impact we are making across the country and continent.
In all, I’m grateful and excited about stepping into the year 2022.
Damilola – Senior Content Associate, BN Editorial, says:
2021 was the year. The year of visibility, crossing off my goals, receiving congratulations notes, and so much wonderful news. I experienced my fair share of Imposter Syndrome and Accomplishment Amnesia, but thanks to my cheerleaders (family, friends, and the BN Team), I was able to get back on course, reflect, stay optimistic, and win. The Editorial team has had so many accomplishments, from successfully covering BBNaija’s ‘Shine Ya Eye’ edition to interviewing celebs like Idris Elba, Regina King, DJ Zinhle, Kemi Adetiba, RMD, and so many more, and I can boldly and proudly say, we taking over in 2022 (Y’all keep an eye out). Cheers to 2022!
Lilian – Team member, BN Editorial, says:
2021 was my year of clarity. Understanding the difference between what I can and should do. Processing my realities, learning what roads to take and walking away from beautiful distractions. With all the wins this year, from interviews with RMD, Stephanie Coker, Bunmi Ajakaiye, Yin, to being a major part of #BBNaija6 and Lagos Fashion Week, I can only be thankful for direction, opportunities and the amazing BN Team. 2022 is all about moving out of my comfort zone, walking that talk, doing more, sprinkling my magic everywhere, being intentional, going all out and creating the beauty I love to see. I’m ready, see you there!
Oluwadunsin – Senior Content Associate, BellaNaija Features, says:
In 2021, I stretched myself a lot and every single time, I scaled through. I have so much to be grateful for and I am excited about the stories I’ll tell in 2022, the projects I’ll work on, and generally doing more.
A huge shoutout to African innovators mitigating the risks of the pandemic in Africa and beyond, to my BellaNaija fam, and to everyone who has made it this far. Y’all rock!
Omotunde – BellaNaija Ads team lead says:
The light at the end of the tunnel is a reward for only those who keep moving. Be kind, cherish important moments, show up for those that matter, be committed and don’t forget to allow yourself “relax and be taken kairoff”, because as for me and my household, any money wey I get, na enjoyment!
Olusola – BellaNaija Ads team member says:
2021 was full of discoveries. I’m super grateful for family, friends and an amazing Team! 2022, we go again, knowing it can only get better!
Adaugo – BellaNaija Ads team member says:
We are miracles!
Collette – BellaNaija Ads team member says:
Be kind, be bold, be brave, take giant strides and most importantly, take good care of yourself because problem no dey finish!
Vivian – BellaNaija Ads team member says:
When the going gets tough, know that as long as you keep up the speed you will definitely get to where you want to be. I have also learnt that putting yourself first after God, will take you wherever you want and dream to be. Believing, Trusting, Loving,Nuturing,Teaching yourself is the best gift you will ever be to yourself. It’s good to trust people but always have an open mind to overcome disappointments as everyone in the world is hustling for ‘self’ and that is totally okay!
Mary – Head of Content, BellaNaija Style says:
2021 was my main character year!And that’s the energy I’m taking in 2022. I’ll be honest, this year started off really slow and looked bleak to me. I was plagued with imposter syndrome, social anxiety, and zero motivation to be or do anything. Through grace, self-motivation, lots of coffee, constant inspiration from the BN team, and of course support from our dear #BNers and #BellaStylistas, I decided to shame the devil. The BellaNaija Style team has grown and achieved a lot this year and I’m very proud of myself and my amazing team. It’s only up from here. Cheers to 2022!
Sandra – Team member, BellaNaija Style, says:
2021 was a year of firsts for me. I’ve gone from hosting my first Instagram live to hosting a clubhouse session and covering Lagos Fashion Week 2021. I am grateful for the opportunities that came my way this year. I’m super positive and excited about 2022 and all that it has in store.
Tomi – BellaNaija Weddings team lead says:
2021 was a year of discovery and embracing new opportunities. Thankful for support, growth and an amazing team. The BellaNaija Weddings team made great strides this year and I am looking forward to more wins! 2022, we go again, stronger and better!
Osas – Team member, BellaNaija Weddings, says:
2021 choke but I still dey breet! 2021 has been a bumpy ride but I’m grateful for the growth and I can boldly say I’m not where I used to be.
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. Thank you for being a part of the BellaNaija story, we cannot wait to bam bam and roll with you again in 2022.
Let’s do this together!