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10 Greatest African Leaders & Their Notable Achievements


Africa has been hailed as a continent of greatness and has been the home and origin of several great leaders. Today, we take a look at a culled list from AfricaRanking, that takes a look at 10 of the greatest African leaders.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 greatest African leaders of all time.

10) Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf


Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is the 24th and current President of Liberia. She is Africa’s first elected female head of state. She won the 2005 presidential election and assumed the office on 18 January 2006.

Many people have praised her for bringing stability back to Liberia after years of civil war. She was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. Under her able leadership, people of Liberia can expect a glorious future for their country.

9) Samora Machel


Samora Machel was the first President of Mozambique. He served the country as its president from the time it gained its independence in 1975 till he died in 1986. He was a military commander and a revolutionary socialist.

He was a thoughtful leader and was respected by the people of Mozambique. His actions and ideology are helping many people of Mozambique even today. He died mysteriously in a plane crash.

8) Jomo Kenyatta


Jomo Kenyatta was the first President of Kenya. Kenya gained independence in 1963. Jomo Kenyatta served as the leader of Kenya from the time it became independent till his death in 1978. He was the Prime Minister between 1963 and 1964, and President between 1964 and 1978.

He brought stability and economic growth to Kenya. He pursued a pro-Western, anti-communist economic philosophy and foreign policy. He also oversaw his country’s admission to the UN.

7) Thomas Sankara


Thomas Isidore Noel Sankara served as the President of Burkina Faso between 1983 and 1987. He seized power in 1983 at the age of 33 in an endeavor to eliminate corruption and the dominance of the former French colonial power.

Many people call him “African Che Guevara.” He was a military captain, pan-African theorist, Marxist revolutionary and feminist. He was an icon for many young Africans in the 1980. Even today he is a hero for many people in Burkina Faso. They praise his integrity and selflessness. Sankara was assassinated by an armed group on October 15, 1987.

6) Patrice Lumumba


Patrice Emery Lumumba founded the mainstream Mouvement national congolais (MNC) party. He played a major role in campaigning for independence from Belgium. He was the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Congo.

This Congolese independence leader called for national unity and overall African independence. After the nation fell under the control of military leader Joseph Mobutu, this great leader was arrested and taken to Katanga, where he was killed on 17 January 1961. Unfortunately United Nations did not intervene to save him.

5) Julius Nyerere


Julius Kambarage Nyerere is one of Africa’s most respected figures. He was the first President of Tanzania and held the office from 29 October 1964 to 5 November 1985. He voluntarily stepped down in 1985. He was premier when Tanganyika was granted internal self-government, and was made president on independence in 1961.
In 1964 he successfully negotiated the union of Zanzibar and Tanganyika, resulting in today’s Tanzania. This great leader guarded himself against corruption. He was respected by many world leaders of his time.

 4) Haile Selassie


Haile Selassie was a member of the Solomonic Dynasty. He served Ethiopia as its regent from 1916 to 1930 and as its emperor from 1930 to 1974. He fended off an invasion by Italy. In 1936, at the League of Nations, he condemned the use of chemical weapons by Italy against his people during the Second Italo-Ethiopean War.

He played a significant role in starting the Organization of African Unity. His views resulted in Ethiopia becoming a charter member of the UN.

3) Alpha Oumar Konare


Alpha Oumar Konare served as the President of Mali for two terms between 1992 and 2002. During his tenure as president, he boosted the country’s economy and fostered democracy. He was the chairperson of African Union between 2003 and 2008.

He relentlessly worked for peace and integration in the West African region. He served as the president of ECOWAS in 1999 and UEMOA in 2000.

2) Kwame Nkrumah


Kwame Nkrumah was the leader of Ghana and its predecessor state, the Gold Coast, from 1951 to 1966. He was the first Prime Minister of Ghana.

He was one of the founding members of the Organization of African Unity, which later became African Union. He was an outspoken advocate of Pan-Africanism.

1) Nelson Mandela


Nelson Mandela is best known for his involvement in South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, this leader of international repute directed a campaign of peaceful, nonviolent defiance against South African government and its racist policies.

Later he served as the President of South Africa from 10 May 1994 to 14 June 1999. Today he is regarded as a symbol of global peace and he is considered the best leader in the history of Africa. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He passed on in 2013.



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  1. Stop your biasnes why Nyerere no 5 and no3 president of Mali what so far Kapore did on the contnent which takes him to that number? Nyerere champions the liberation struggle towards the continent then then your coming with your bias imfortion I remember one day you have posted here two jets and said they are Ethiopian Jets while they are for Tanzanian and the one who was inside was our lovely president then as usual today come again with nonses are you European watch dog?

  2. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is an accomplice to the war in Liberia according to Charles Taylor. She worked closely with Charles Taylor to organize, finance and promote the nasty war in Liberia. It’s the West that promoted her to become president. She must not therefore be named as one of Africa’s greatest leaders.

  3. How do you leave out Kenneth Kaunda and Muammar Gaddafi and yet you add a person like Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf? Lets be serious with our criteria for such articles.

  4. How did Nelson become one of the greatest African leaders? He brought his people no justice in 5 years. You must really be a European watchdog as one person stated.

  5. Kenneth Kaunda paid for liberation of most Southern African states. He was one of the first long serving heads of states to embrace democracy and hand over power peacefully to a democratically elected president Fredrick Chiluba without resistance.

  6. Kenneth Kaunda paid for liberation of most Southern African states. He led Zambia to independence and ruled from 1964 to 1991. He was one of the first long serving heads of states to embrace democracy and hand over power peacefully to a democratically elected president Fredrick Chiluba without resistance.

  7. What about Prime Minister Meles Zenawi former PM of Ethiopia and spoke person of Africa. No one can deney that Meles Zenawi was a real African and Ethiopian hero. You leave a lot of heros who contribute a curicial role in independence of Ethiopia and Africa as well.

  8. How about Dr. John Garang De Mabior of South Sudan, who has fought the longest war in Africa, brought freedom to his marginalized people. i think your ranking has based on whom you know not the best they had done.

  9. Frankly writing,Kwame Nkrumah and J.K Nyerere should be competing for the first two positions. What they did plus their ideologies were amazing​,, Nyerere helped so many African countries free themselves from the brutal colonial rule including Angola, Mozambique and South Africa itself,to mention a few.How can someone underestimate the contribution of this late father over Africa? His contribution towards Independence of African states can’t be put aside,. What’s​ so special with Mandela to deserve such a special honour which puts him above Nyerere?

  10. This list is total rubbish. How can my grandfather, Hastings Kamuzu Banda, be left out? This list was compiled by a Communist. Please accept that it is a failed and long dead ideology. Let the right people compile a well balanced list that is logically representative.


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