These men and women were prepared to risk all to confront the unpredictable and bring about change in Africa. Discover a list of notable African figures who have shaped the history of the continent that many of us call home, and are still well-known today.
The pursuit of development and peace on the continent was what distinguished these outstanding African leaders in history. No matter the difficulties the great brains encountered on a daily basis, they consistently prioritized equity and progress in Africa.
Without regard to order, these people collectively have a significant influence on the entire world. Get to know the birthplace of these leaders, who were trailblazers in their own right, here;
1. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
Prior to serving as South Africa’s president from 1994 to 1999, Nelson Mandela spent most of his life in the battle against apartheid in the nation. Who, however, has been Africa’s greatest leader throughout history, and who has fought for independence there the most effectively? Nelson Mandela, without a question, is who most people would name. His traditional Xhosa name is Madiba, and he was one of the most well-known African activists. He was frequently detained for his activism.
Birthplace: He was born Rolihlahla Mandela on 18th July 1918 in Mvezo, Union of South Africa. In South Africa’s Eastern Cape, close to Mthatha, is a little village called Mvezo on the shores of the Mbashe River. Nelson Mandela was born in this village. The Eastern province community is home to the Nelson Mandela Birthplace Museum which attracts thousands of visitors to learn about the country’s first president. On February 11, 2000, the Nelson Mandela Museum had its official opening as part of a celebration marking the tenth anniversary of Mandela’s 1990 release from prison. The birthplace/museum is located in the Eastern Cape near Qunu, south of Umtata, on the N2 highway.
Mvezo covers an area of 2.13 kilometers square with a population size of less than a thousand.
2. Haile Selassie
The Solomonic Empire included Ras Tafari Makonnen, also known as Haile Selassie. Between the years of 1930 and 1974, he served as the emperor of Ethiopia. While in office, he campaigned for social justice and built numerous schools with an emphasis on the general populace’s education. His ideas and ideals led to Ethiopia becoming a founding member of the UN.
Birthplace: East of Ethiopia lies the settlement of Ejersa Goro, situated in the Oromia Region’s East Hararghe Zone, a short distance from the city of Harar. It serves as Jarso Aanaa’s administrative unit. Emperor Haile Selassie I was born there on July 23, 1892, the ninth child of Woizero Yeshimebet Ali and Ras Makonnen, the then-governor of Harar. To honor the occasion, the Emperor later built Kidane Mihret (Our Lady Covenant of Mercy), present-day “Kidane Mihret Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church” in the town. When John Graham visited in 2001, Kidane Mihret was still there and still in use.
3. Kwame Nkrumah
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah is a well-known politician from Ghana who served as president from 1951 to 1966 with the goal of freeing the nation from British colonial rule. Many believe that he was the country’s founder because he led the independence charge and served as Ghana’s first president. The Africa Union, formerly known as the Organization of African Union, was founded with help from pan-Africanist Kwame Nkrumah.
Birthplace: On September 21, 1909, Kwame Nkrumah was born in Nkroful, Ghana. The little community of Nkroful is located in the Nzema region, in the far southwest of Ghana, not far from the border with the former French province of the Ivory Coast. Located close to Axim in the Nzema East Municipality of the Western Region, Nkroful is a community in the Ellembelle District, a district in the Western Region of south Ghana. As Kwame Nkrumah’s birthplace, Nkroful is well-known. Nkrumah was born there on September 21, 1909, and was raised there. He died on July 9, 1972, and was interred in his hometown. The original Nkrumah Mausoleum and Monument are at Nkroful, and they continue to draw tourists.
4. Julius Nyerere
Julius Nyerere served as Tanzania’s first president from 1961 to 1985. The Tanganyika African National Union was founded in large part because of Nyerere, who also served as its leader and pushed for independence from Britain. In 1961, Tanzania achieved self-government. In 1964, Nyerere negotiated the unification of Zanzibar and Tanganyika, creating what is now known as Tanzania.
Birthplace: One of Tanzania’s seven districts, Butiama District, is part of the Mara Region. The town of Butiama serves as its administrative hub. Butiama, where Julius Nyerere was born, is home to the Mwalimu Nyerere Museum. On July 2, 1999, Frederick Tluway Sumaye, the Prime Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania, gave the museum its ceremonial opening. Also present at the inauguration ceremony was Julius Nyerere. It houses numerous artifacts donated by Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere for public display. The items consist of gifts he received as a president. The Butiama District had 241,732 residents, according to the 2012 Tanzania National Census. Julius, who was revered as the Father of the Nation, was buried in Butiama in October 1999.
5. Patrice Lumumba
Politician Lumumba of the Congo campaigned for his nation’s independence from Belgium. In 1960, he served as the country’s first prime minister. Lumumba established the Congolese National Movement and advocated for independence using Pan-Africanist principles. In significant part as a result of Lumumba’s battles, Congo was liberated from Belgium in 1961.
Birthplace: Congo’s first prime minister Patrice Lumumba was born in Katako-Kombe in the Sankuru Province of Congo. It is an area that is a part of the Kasa region. It serves as the traditional homeland of the Tetela people. Although there hasn’t been a monumental project erected at Lumumba’s birthplace, a museum in his honor is established in the country’s capital, Kinshasa. A coffin containing a single tooth of the staunch politician after he was murdered is housed there and a magnificent statue of him is located on the main avenue of the capital.
6. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
The first notable African female leader and head of state was Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. She served as Liberia’s president from 2006 to 2018. She has received plaudits for restoring stability to Liberia following a protracted civil war. Ellen, who received the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, is also known as “Africa’s Iron Lady.”
Birthplace: Born Ellen Eugenia Johnson on October 29, 1938, in Monrovia, she was the 24th president of Liberia and Africa’s first democratically elected female president.
Johnson Sirleaf received the 2017 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership in February 2018 in recognition of her leadership of Liberia during the difficult period of transition following the nation’s disastrous years of conflict and for the productive changes that occurred in Liberia under her administration.
This list isn’t exhaustive, however, these men and women have paid their dues and deserve the recognition.