Top 10 Greatest African Leaders Of All Time (2024)

Africa and Africans have seen several leaders that have got various beliefs, status, and charisma, at different times in history.

Many of these leaders were able to, through different means and mediums, adequately energized those following them, and they have made a positive impact in the lives of tons of their followers via their exploits. We present the ten greatest African leaders of all time.

Top 10 Greatest African Leaders Of All Time 

  • 1. Nelson Mandela

As expected, Nelson Mandela is the first on the list. Almost everyone agreed he remains the greatest African leader of all time. He is a pride of South Africa, and a hero the country won’t forget for a very long time. Nelson gave his all to ensure the eradication of apartheid in the country. 

He had followed the path of India’s Mahatma Gandhi, and he indulged in peaceful campaigns that are devoid of violence, just to see to it that the government of those times quit its racist policies and allow everyone enjoys equal rights in South Africa. Well, his struggles yielded positive fruits. 

Nelson Mandela also served as the President of his country from 1994 to 1999. Interestingly, even though he has the charisma to rule for more than one term, he decided to leave the scene as soon as he finished his tenure. Mandela was honored with the Noble Peace Prize in 1993 and considered as the best leader the continent has ever produced. Prior to his death, Mr. Nelson is seen as a symbol of global peace, and indeed, he is a lover of peace. 

  • 2. Haile Selassie

The next is Haile Selassie, another great African leader from Ethiopia. A member of the Solomonic Dynasty, Haile has a special place in African history. A big hero who ensured Ethiopia won’t fall into the hands of the colonialists when other African countries were being taken, Haile was a brave leader that stopped an invasion by Italy. 

Before becoming the country’s emperor in 1930, he first served as its regent (from 1916). About six years after becoming the emperor of Ethiopia, the African leader condemned the usage of chemical weapons by Italy against Ethiopians during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War at the League of Nations. He was pretty much influential that his country was made a charter member of the United Nations. Additionally, Haile played a big role in starting the Organization of African Unity back then. 

  •  3. Kwame Nkrumah

Next is Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. He was the leader of the country (the First Prime Minister) from 1951 to 1966, and he left huge marks. Kwame played a big role in the creation of the Organization of African Unity (now African Union). He was a great African leader that inspired several people in several ways; an outspoken advocate of Pan-Africanism and considered a hero by several people. 

  •  4. Alpha Oumar Konare

Alpha Oumar Konare is a great African leader from Mali who did his best to transform the fortunes of his country. He was their President between 1992 and 2002 (he served for two terms), and it is on record that Konare boosted the economy of Mali before leaving the seat of power. 

Apart from his exploits in terms of boosting his country’s economy, he also did his best to foster the democracy of the country. His exploits were not just limited to his activities in Mali alone, but he also served as the chairperson of the African Union for some time, as well as President of ECOWAS (where he worked hard to ensure peace and integration). 

  • 5. Julius Nyerere

Julius Kambarage Nyerere is another great leader from Africa. He is well respected for his exploits, particularly for his country Tanzania (he was the country’s first President). He served as President from 1964 to 1985. 

One of the things he did that earned him admiration was when he willingly stepped down from the seat of power in the year 1985. Before becoming the President, and before the birth of the independent nation of Tanzania, Julius was premier when Tanganyika was granted internal self-government. He is known for his stance against corruption and was respected by various important persons around the globe. 

  • 6. Patrice Lumumba

This man established the mainstream Mouvement National Congolais (MNC) party, and he pushed greatly for the independence of the people of Congo from Belgium. 

After the independence of his country, Patrice became the first-ever democratically elected Prime Minister of the young nation. One thing he did was to encourage national unity. Apart from the steps he took within Congo, he also ensured that he pushed for the independence of other African countries. 

Unfortunately, he was murdered in 1961 after Joseph Mobutu (a military leader) snatched power, and that was his end. 

  • 7. Thomas Sankara

Thomas Isidore Noel Sankara is next on the list, as he is one of the greatest African leaders of all time (he is from Burkina Faso). He ruled the country from 1983 to 1987.

Sankara is one of the young leaders that ruled in Africa during the 1980s (he became his country’s head back then in 1983 as a 33-year-old). He did his best to discard corruption in the country, and he also pushed away from the dominance of the then colonialists in Burkina Faso (the French). 

Sankara was a military captain, Pan-African theorist, and also a Marxist revolutionary. Since he was carrying out a lot of exploits even as a very young chap, many young Africans made him their hero. In fact, until this moment in his country, he is still loved for his integrity and love for his nation. 

Unfortunately, he was assassinated on October 15, 1987, and was not allowed to fulfill his full potentials. Nevertheless, he remains one of the best leaders Burkina Faso has ever had, and one of the greatest leaders Africa has ever seen. 

  • 8. Jomo Kenyatta

Jomo Kenyatta is also a great African leader, very influential during his time on earth. He was a Kenyan who served as the country’s first President. After Kenya was granted independence by the British in 1963, Jomo became the country’s Prime Minister, for a year. He eventually became President in 1964 and sat on the seat of power till his death in 1978. 

Kenyatta did a lot for his country while he was in power. He ensured stability in the country, and he pushed Kenya’s economic status to an improved spot. 

  • 9. Samora Machel

From Mozambique, Samora Machel is next on the list. Here is the man who first served as the President of Mozambique and brought a lot of developments into the country. 

Samora was a military commander who became the country’s leader after her independence in 1975, and he served in that capacity till his death in 1986 (he died in a plane crash). 

  •  10. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

Finally, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is next – the only female on the list. She served as the 24th President of Liberia and became the first elected female head of state in the continent of Africa. Her reputation made her a model for many people (especially young women) in different parts of the continent. 

Ellen won the 2005 presidential election impressively and became the President on 18 January 2006. She worked tirelessly to restore stability back to her country after years of civil war. Her exploits were not only applauded within the African continent alone, but she was also given various accolades on the global platform. For instance, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in the year 2011 (which is an Award only a few leaders can grab). Indeed, she keeps passing the message that if more African countries will give more females a chance in political leadership, things will get better for everyone. 

In conclusion, here are the ten greatest African leaders of all time, and we expect other African leaders to keep learning from them, and ensure the progress of the continent. 


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