Featuring 11 people from around the world, including pop stars The Weeknd and Ariana Grande, TIME describes Farida as “Kano’s Jane Austen.
Some of the leaders’ profiles below:
At 24, Ariana Grande is one of the biggest pop stars in the world, and she’s coming out with new music two years after her last album, the blockbuster Dangerous Woman. Her latest single is called “No Tears Left to Cry.”
Hou Yifan, aged 24, remains the world’s greatest female chess player—she has won multiple world titles since graduating from high school—and is also an accomplished student; she holds a degree in international relations from Beijing’s prestigious Peking University and is pursuing a master’s degree in public policy at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. That a child prodigy chose not to dedicate herself full time to the game bewildered her coach and the wider chess community.
Farida Ado’s novels reflect the daily concerns and preoccupations of her contemporaries: how to get along with the multiple step-siblings from your father’s several wives; how to deal with a new, younger wife in your home; how to maintain family harmony while striving for independence; and what to do (or not do) about a husband’s infidelity. The novels are prescriptive on purpose, says Ado. “Every positive example [the reader] gets on how to solve her problems is a plus to society.”
Her recent series, The Block of Ashes, was inspired by a neighbor who went to a Nigerian juju priest hoping dark magic could help with her marital problems, to devastating results. “I try to reflect the reality of society in my stories,” she says. “These juju doctors had become a menace in many homes.”
Ado’s books, printed locally on cheap pulp, are not likely to be translated into English anytime soon. But to Nigeria’s Hausa-speaking population of 30 million, Kano’s Jane Austen has many more stories to tell.
Abel Tesfaye, better known to the public as the Weeknd, has made a career out of hiding in plain sight. When he began releasing music in 2010, he kept his persona intentionally vague, building buzz primarily via the Internet; fans grew to love him without knowing if he was a band or a solo singer.
Now Tesfaye is a budding superstar, with a string of No. 1 hits (“The Hills,” “Can’t Feel My Face,” “Starboy”) and a new album, My Dear Melancholy,that tallied more than 25 million streams on Spotify and Apple Music, respectively, during its first 24 hours of release—among the best digital debuts of all time. In April, he headlined Coachella, opposite Beyoncé.