O'Plérou Grebet is an Ivorian artist, graphic designer and illustrator known to have designed more than 365 free emojis that portrays West African culture.[1][2][3][4][5] He was named in the Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 list.[6]

O'Plérou Luc Denis Grebet

(1997-11-07) November 7, 1997 (age 23)
EducationBachelor's degree in Graphic design
OccupationGraphic designer, Illustrator
Years active2018–present
Known forIllustration
Notable work
AwardsForbes Africa 30 Under 30 (2020)

Early life and educationEdit

O'Plérou Luc Denis Grebet was born on November 7, 1997, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. He was frequently drawing to spend time as a child.[3][7] He went to the Fine Arts School of Abidjan for one year, then studied graphic design and web development at the Institute of Sciences and Communication Techniques.[8]

Zouzoukwa ProjectEdit

In September 2017, O’Plérou learned to make emojis by watching a YouTube tutorial. He launched his project "Zouzoukwa", on January 1, 2018, for which he aimed to design and publish every day on Instagram a new Africa related emoji till the end of the year. His main goal was to share the Ivorian culture with the world through social media.[7][9] Within the first week of starting this project, he gained 2,000 new followers.[10]

In December 2018, he incorporated all 365 emojis into an app to make his emojis usables as stickers on WhatsApp and iMessage.[11][12][13]

He won the Young Talent Award at Africa Digital Communication Days (Adicom Days) at Abidjan, Ivory Coast, the meeting place for digital actors in French-speaking Africa[14] for his project. In the process, he collaborated with the French channel Canal +, which uses some of his "made in Ivo" emoticons on social networks during the football World Cup in June and July. He collaborated with an Ivorian brand of clothing and accessories, Imalk Concept, with his emojis on tote bags.[15]


  1. ^ "This 21-year-old Ivorian has created over 350 downloadable African emojis". www.pulse.ng. October 24, 2019. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  2. ^ "Les émojis africains Zouzoukwa disponibles sur Playstore | Life Magazine" (in French). Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Salaudeen, Aisha. "The student creating African emojis to change the story of Africa from poverty to beauty". CNN. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  4. ^ "Video experience headlines". BBC News. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  5. ^ "Ivorian student creates African emojis". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved January 20, 2020.
  6. ^ Mwendera, Karen (April 2, 2020). "Forbes Africa #30Under30 List: Leading The Charge". Forbes Africa. Retrieved April 3, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "O'Plérou Grebet's new emojis allow "Africans to communicate more accurately using instant messaging"". www.itsnicethat.com. Retrieved January 20, 2020.
  8. ^ Turcan, Marie (January 11, 2018). "Chaque jour, cet artiste ivoirien crée un nouvel emoji issu de la culture africaine — et on a hâte de pouvoir les utiliser". Business Insider France (in French). Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  9. ^ "Les " zouzoukwa ", des smileys à la sauce ivoirienne" (in French). October 24, 2018. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  10. ^ Hawgood, Alex (December 11, 2019). "A Student Who Makes African Emojis". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  11. ^ "Drawing West Africa, one emoji at a time". Christian Science Monitor. December 10, 2019. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved January 20, 2020.
  12. ^ "The Emoji Designer Who's Bringing African Culture To Smartphone Keyboards". NPR.org. Retrieved January 20, 2020.
  13. ^ P3. "Ele cria "stickers" da cultura africana — para a fazer chegar a todos os teclados". PÚBLICO (in Portuguese). Retrieved January 20, 2020.
  14. ^ Hierro, Lola (March 1, 2018). "Un emoji africano para cada día del año". El País (in Spanish). ISSN 1134-6582. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  15. ^ "Collab' mode : les tote bags inspirés des émojis africains". www.elle.ci (in Polish). Retrieved November 3, 2019.

External linksEdit