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6 Iconic Speeches Of African Independence Leaders Caught On Video

Kwame Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah


Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or even Whatsapp were not conceived in the late 20th Century – a period in history where African countries gained independence – but there were few moments in that era that captivated great minds and spurred people on to greatness.

Through the speeches and strong-worded activism of political leaders during or before independence in Africa, people were encouraged to fight for freedom from the oppression they faced under the rule of the colonial masters.

There must have surely been more than enough of such inspiring speeches, but here are 6 speeches from leaders of African independence that were captured on video.

President Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana

Kwame Nkrumah helped Ghana to gain independence in 1957, making it the first country south of the Sahara to achieve such a feat from its colonial masters.

He ruled the country from independence in 1957 until he was overthrown by a coup in 1966. Born September 1909, at Nkroful, Gold Coast [now Ghana] he died on April 27, 1972, Bucharest, Romania.

He is reported to have died of prostate cancer with no family member by his side after months of failing health following the mysterious death of his cook in Conakry, Guinea, where he was exiled after his overthrow in 1966.

The cause of his death has been an issue of contention as Nkrumah himself believed he was not safe from Western intelligence agencies and had suspicions of being poisoned.


President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, South Africa

Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa in 1994 and ruled until 1999. The global icon he was, Mandela is well-known as a nonviolent anti-apartheid activist, politician and philanthropist.

Becoming actively involved in the anti-apartheid movement in his 20s, Mandela joined the African National Congress in 1942. For 20 years, he directed a campaign of peaceful, nonviolent defiance against the South African government and its racist policies.

Beginning in 1962, Mandela spent 27 years in prison for political offenses. His release paved the way for his election into the high office as president.

President Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya

Jomo Kenyatta was a leader in the Kenyan independence movement, a strong supporter of a Kenyan government controlled by native Africans, and the nation’s first prime minister as well as its first president. For Kenya, he was Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and Paul Revere all rolled into one. To many Kenyans, he was Kenya.

His son, Uhuru Kenyatta, who he mentored later in his life, is the country’s current president.

President Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria

Nnamdi Azikiwe (1904-1996) was one of the foremost Nigerian and West African nationalists and the first president of Nigeria. He was popularly known as “Zik” or “Zik of Africa”.


Before taking the position of the President of Nigeria, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe took the position of the country’s Governor-General in 1960. Azik was in the Gold Coast from 1934 to 1937, where he became a mentor to Kwame Nkrumah, who would later become the president of Ghana.

President Patrice Lumumba, DRC

Patrice Lumumba, the first legally elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), ruled until January 17, 1961, when he was assassinated.

He led the Democratic Republic of Congo to independence after the country was passed on from King Leopold II, who took control of it as his private property in the 1880s, to Belgium in 1908 as a colony.

The independence celebrations of the Democratic Republic of Congo on June 30th, 1960 particularly left a very well deserved bitter taste in the mouth of the Belgian King Baudouin.

After his speech praising Leopold II, under whose reign an estimated ten million innocent Congolese perished, Prime Minister Lumumba countered with a rather unexpected and damning speech humiliating King Baudouin and condemning the atrocities committed by the Belgians on the people of Congo.


President William Tubman, Liberia

William V. S. Tubman, Liberia’s first president, ruled for 27 years. His rule constitutes the longest tenure in that office in the history of Africa’s first republic (proclaimed in 1847).

He was responsible for numerous reforms and social policies, including the enactment of suffrage and property rights for all female residents of 21 or older; authorization of direct participation in government by all tribes people, who comprise about 80 percent of the population; and the establishment of a nationwide public-school system.

Born November 29, 1895, Tubman died on July 23, 1971, in London.


President Léopold Sédar Senghor, Senegal

Before he was the president of independent Senegal in 1961, Léopold Sédar Senghor was an academic. A poet who captured the daily and rare occurrence of life, he is credited as one of the biggest African intellectuals.

Born in 1906 in Jaol, Senegal, Senghor had a dream to become a teacher-priest.  He, however, abandoned priesthood when he turned 20, leaving the seminary for the Lycee secondary school in Dakar.

He was a Minister in France before his country’s independence was proclaimed. Elected on September 5, 1960, Mr. Senghor presided over the just-born Republic of Senegal. He is the author of the Senegalese anthem, the Red Lion. He resigned from office before the end of his fifth presidential term, in December 1980.


Written by PH

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