4. Joseph Kabila (29 years old), DR Congo
Joseph Kabila was born and raised in a remote part of the Democratic Republic of Congo while his father, Laurent, led his rebel forces, waging war against the government of DR Congo’s (then Zaire) strongman Mobutu Sese Seko.
He would later spend part of his childhood growing up in Tanzania, where he completed his primary and secondary education.
After high school, Kabila received military training in Tanzania and at Makerere University in Uganda. He would later join his father’s Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (AFDL) army in 1996 and fight in the campaign to oust Mobutu from power; records reveal that he commanded a kadogo (child soldier) unit in the battle for Kinshasa.
In 1998, at age 26, his father appointed him deputy chief of staff of the AFDL, and by 2000, he had risen to the position of chief of staff of the DR Congo’s Land Forces.
By the age of 29, Kabila was sworn in as the leader of the DR Congo in January of 2001, 10 days after his father was assassinated. Kabila later contested and won the DR Congo presidential election in 2006.
He was again re-elected in 2011 for another 5-year term.