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10 Former African Presidents And Their Lives After Leaving Office

In the wake of leaving the most noteworthy office in their nations, one might ponder what some of Africa’s ex-presidents, especially the recent alumni, have been doing? A few, obviously, have plans of coming back to politics, however for others, nothing objective is on their minds. There are likewise unlimited open doors for these previous African leaders and numerous have started exploiting them.

Here are 10 past African leaders and what they are doing after leaving office.

Jerry Rawlings – Ghana

Ghana’s former president, who is currently focused on writing his memoirs, is globally admired for his patriotism, charisma, and his anti-corruption ideals. He remains politically active both locally and internationally. Not too long after leaving office in 2001, Rawlings volunteered time and was committed as an Eminent Person for the United Nations International Year of Volunteers 2001. He engaged himself in the fight to contain HIV/AIDS in various African countries including Botswana, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Swaziland and Tanzania. In October 2010, the African Union appointed Jerry John Rawlings as the AU High Representative to Somalia to “mobilize the continent and the rest of the international community to fully assume its responsibilities and contribute more actively to the quest for peace, security and reconciliation in Somalia.” The 70-year-old is still instrumental in Ghana’s social justice, political and socio-economic development.

Joyce Banda – Malawi

Malawi’s first female president and the only second woman to lead a country in Africa took over power following the death of 78-year-old President Bingu wa Mutharika, who died in office. Banda has not been in her country since 2014 when she lost her re-election bid. Many have attributed this to attempt by her opponents to implicate her in a multimillion-pound “Cashgate” corruption scandal.

The former Malawian president is now a member of Club de Madrid, an assembly of former presidents and prime ministers who continue to support and foster democratic values and leadership. She has, basically, gone back to her activist roots, and this is what she has been pursuing since she left power.

John Kufuor – Ghana

The former leader who governed Ghana from 2001 – 2008, is currently the first Chancellor of the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) at Tarkwa in the Western Region. He had, before this appointment been engaged in several international speaking engagements. In 2009, Kufuor contributed his expertise to the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation’s poverty reduction work. The Freemasons member, in September 2009, spoke in the Netherlands at a Dutch government event to mark ’60 years of development aid’ at the invitation of Dutch Minister Bert Koenders. On 20 September 2011, he inaugurated the John Agyekum Kufuor (JAK) Foundation with a ceremony for the JAK Centre for Leadership, Governance and Development at the University of Ghana. Kufuor has, since November 2011, been the first high-level Chair of the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) partnership.

Olusegun Obasanjo – Nigeria

Even after 10 years of stepping down, many are still concerned about what the former Nigerian leader has been doing. This is because the 80-year-old still divides opinion in the country and continues to enjoy significant influence within the politics of the country. For instance, as the country approaches the 2019 elections, many have already been questioning who Obasanjo will support. But the former leader who has intervened in elections in Zimbabwe, and in the release of some of the Chibok girls who were kidnapped by terrorist group Boko Haram, recently took to writing and publishing. His recent book, Making Africa Work, describes itself as “a guide to improving Africa’s capacity for economic growth and job creation”. Co-written with Greg Mills, Jeffrey Herbst and Dickie Davis, it also talks about various political and economic challenges facing the continent. He recently graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the National Open University of Nigeria.

José Eduardo dos Santos – Angola


After staying in power for 38 years, the former Angolan leader stepped down in August 2017. Even though it is not certain what he is doing now, many, however, believe that he would be taking care of his family business. What is known to all and sundry is that dos Santos would continue as president of the MPLA until at least 2021. This grants him considerable powers, including power to choose parliamentary candidates. What is also known is that dos Santos will still exercise control in matters of national security in Angola, following parliament’s decision to pass a legislation safeguarding dos Santos’ picks at the head of the defence and intelligence services.

Robert Mugabe – Zimbabwe

Mugabe, who had been president of Zimbabwe since 1980 resigned from office in November 2017 to avoid being impeached after what can be described as a military coup. At age 93, many have been wondering what the former leader could do after stepping down. His aide, however, told The Times that Mugabe plans writing his memoirs and to go into a dairy business with his wife. The aid further disclosed that a university may be established in his name.

Yahya Jammeh – The Gambia

The former Gambian leader who ruled the West African country for 22 years, ceded power to current President Adama Barrow in January 2017. Right after flowing out to Equatorial Guinea, where he is in exile, speculations were rife that he could take to farming just like his other former colleagues. This was followed by pictures of him on a farm in the Central African country clearing the land. He was seen walking, weeding and observing the farm. It is, however unclear if he would go back to full-time farming and what type of farming he would venture into.

Thabo Mbeki – South Africa

The former president of South Africa agreed to step down after the country’s ruling party formally requested his resignation over allegations that he misused his power. He is currently the Chairperson of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel for Sudan, which has the task of facilitating the end of the conflict in the Republic of Sudan. The 76-year-old also heads the AU-UN High-Level Delegation on Illicit Financial Outflows from Africa. Mr Mbeki has before this facilitated peace negotiations in various African countries, including Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He established the Thabo Mbeki Foundation in 2010, of which he is the Patron. One of the Foundation’s flagship projects is the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute(TMALI), a partnership with the University of South Africa. Mbeki is also the Chancellor of the University of South Africa (UNISA), a position to which he was inaugurated in February 2017.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia, addresses the 2008 United Methodist General Conference on April 29 in Fort Worth, Texas. Sirleaf is a United Methodist and the first female head of state in Africa. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose. Photo #GC0380. April 29, 2008.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – Liberia

The former Liberian leader, before handing over to the current president George Weah in January 2018 stated that she would step away from local politics after the handover. The 78-year-old former joint Nobel Peace Prize laureate told South Africa’s Mail and Guardian in an interview that she plans to get into lecturing, farming and reading. She further indicated that she was considering an offer of a fellowship from the Georgetown University in the United States “to make sure I stay alert, intellectually alert, professionally alert.” Even though Sirleaf has plans to go back to farming, she is also hoping to read and sleep more. Her comments should perhaps give all and sundry an idea as to what she will be up to now.

Jakaya Kikwete – Tanzania

The 66-year-old served as president between December 2005 and November 2015 before handing over power to the current president, John Pombe Magufuli.

He has currently taken to farming. In a recent Twitter post, the former Tanzanian leader said he is enjoying quality time with his family, cattle and farm. Kikwete was in 2016 appointed the AU’s (Africa Union) Special Representative to Libya. He recently had a meeting with Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar to talk about the future of the North African country after the violent overthrow of the former leader, Muammar Gaddafi.


Written by How Africa

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