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List Of The Greatest African Leaders You Should Know

Africa has been hailed as the land of greatness, abundance and the home to some of the world’s most remarkable leaders. Although some of them have come and gone, their memory lives on as we still enjoy the fruits of their exemplary leadership. Leadership is an integral docket in every society. This averment will gain credence once we discuss the top 10 greatest African leaders and some of their achievements in the article.

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Africa has produced some of the greatest leaders. Most of them are revered for fighting against colonial oppression and bringing together the African people in their respective countries. These leaders exhibit values such as perseverance, humility, courage, loyalty and last but not least, assertiveness. Some people are born into leadership. However, as we will, later on, find out, most of the popular and most embraced African leaders are called into serving the people.

Top 10 greatest African leaders

One cannot be a leader if at all they do not have in them the value of selfless service. For one to be considered a leader, they ought to be able to serve their citizens wholeheartedly. The following article enlightens us on Africa’s greatest leaders of all time, and some of their outstanding achievements.

  • Nelson Mandela
  • Kwameh Nkrumah
  • Alpha Oumar Konare
  • Haile Selassie
  • Julius Nyerere
  • Patrice Lumumba
  • Thomas Sankara
  • Jomo Kenyatta
  • Samora Machel
  • Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is regarded as a symbol of peace world over and is considered as the greatest leader ever seen in the history of Africa. His exemplary leadership saw him brave torture and detainment at the hands of the colonial masters so as to deliver his people from the apartheid regime.

He started the anti-apartheid movement which was a peaceful campaign against the South African government’s racist policies. After years of campaigning and torture, his efforts did pay off when racial segregation and other forms of discrimination were brought to an end.

Besides being the most popular and most embraced African leader, Nelson Mandela is also a Nobel Prize Laurate. He won this prize back in 1993. He served as South Africa’s head of state from 10th May 1994 to 14th June 1999. Although he is deceased, his memory still lives on.

Kwameh Nkrumah

Every time there is a mention of Pan-Africanism, Kwameh Nkrumah should be the first thing that rings in mind. He spearheaded the Pan-African movement in Africa among many other movements. Kwameh served as the leader of Ghana as well as its predecessor state formerly known as Gold Coast, between the years 1951 and 1966.

Besides that, Nkrumah also served as the first Prime Minister of Ghana. His exemplary leadership saw him be among the founding members of the Organization of African Unity which later on became the African Union. His outspoken nature saw him advocate for equal rights for Africans as well as their independence from the colonialists.

Calling him a mere leader is an understatement. His exemplary leadership and achievements qualify him as one of Africa’s greatest leaders of all time.

Alpha Oumar Konare

Alpha Oumar Konare served as Mali’s head of state for two consecutive terms which commenced in1992 and ended in 2002. His shrewd and astute leadership skills saw a boost in the country’s economy during his tenure as president. It also fostered democracy and abhorred corruption. Alpha also campaigned tirelessly for peace and integration among West African states.

His other achievements include chairing the African Union between 2003 and 2008 and serving as the president of ECOWAS in 1999.

Haile Selassie

Every time Haile Selassie is talked about, the attribute wise has to be used to describe him, among other positive attributes. This leader was a member of the Solomonic Dynasty which strived to ward off colonialists and also set up laws that governed the leadership of Ethiopia.

Haile Selassie served as Ethiopia’s regent from 1916 to 1930. He, later on, held the highest position of leadership as emperor from 1930 to 1974. His greatest achievement which he is famed for was fending off an invasion from Italy, which was trying to colonize the people of Ethiopia.

He also managed to champion against the use of chemical weapons by Italy during the Second Italo-Ethiopian war at the League of Nations. His outspoken and open-minded nature saw him play a paramount role in the founding of the Organization of African Unity.

Last but not least, Haile Selassie’s witty views and opinions saw Ethiopia becoming a charter member of the United Nations.

Julius Nyerere

Julius Nyerere is one of Africa’s most iconic leaders. He was Tanzania’s first head of state from1964 until 1985 when he voluntarily stepped down. He fought for Tanzania’s self – government when he was the Prime Minister. He became Tanzania’s president on independence. Thus his efforts paid off tremendously.

His tenure as president is praised for lack of corruption as well as promotion and preservation of democracy. Other achievements that qualify him as one of the greatest African leaders was his negotiation that saw Zanzibar and Tanganyika unified to form today’s Tanzania.

Patrice Lumumba

This Congolese leader is known for spearheading the campaign for independence against Congo’s colonizers, the Belgians. Patrice Lumumba was the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Congo. He played a major role in advocating for national unity among states and African independence from the colonialists.

Unfortunately, when Congo fell under the regime of military leader Joseph Mobutu, he ordered for the capture and execution of this great leader. However, his legacy still lives on.

Thomas Sankara

Thomas Isidore Noel Sankara served as Burkina Faso’s head of state from 1983 to 1987. His main objective when he seized power was to eliminate corruption and dominance of the French colonialists in the country.

He is remembered for being a military captain, a staunch Pan-Africanist, a Marxist Revolutionary and last but not least, a great feminist who advocated for equal rights for women. He is praised for his integrity, selflessness and exemplary leadership. He met his demise at the hands of assassins on October 15th, 1987. But truth be told, Thomas is one of Africa’s greatest leaders of all time.

Jomo Kenyatta

Jomo Kenyatta was the first president of the Republic of Kenya. He served in that capacity between the years 1964 and 1978. During his leadership, he oversaw Kenya’s admission to the United Nations. His leadership policies also brought about political and economic stability as well as economic growth.

Jomo Kenyatta also pursued an anti-communist economic philosophy which embraced capitalism. He also founded the MauMau movement which fought for Kenya’s independence from the British colonial masters. His son is the fourth and the current president of Kenya.

Samora Machel

Samora Machel was the first president of Mozambique. Besides that, he was also a military commander and a social revolutionist. He served as Mozambique’s head of state from the time it gained its independence back in 1925 until he died mysteriously in a plane crash in 1986.

His leadership is greatly revered to date by the people of Mozambique. He was very wise, thoughtful and self -driven.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

Ellen Johnson is the first-ever female president of Liberia. She was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for bringing peace and stability in Liberia after many years of civil strife and political instability. Her ability to bring calm to a state that was once full of anarchy and bloodshed makes her one of the popular and most embraced African leaders of all time.

Ellen is the 24th and the current president of Liberia. She has been in office since she was elected back in 2005. Despite the fact that her regime has been marred by allegations of corruption, her achievements surpass the faults in her leadership.


Africa has experienced all sorts of leaders. From the corrupt to the power hungry and the war mongers. But in the same vein, Africa has seen some of the best leaders who have served their citizens wholeheartedly, bringing peace and stability and independence from the hands of their colonial masters. The aforementioned top 10 greatest African leaders serve as a good example in support of the aforesaid averment, that they brought peace, stability, and independence.

Were it not for the struggle and resilience that some of them had to go through, Africa would not be the way it is today. We would probably still be servants of the crown.

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