Cyril Ramaphosa is a politician and the current president of South Africa. Also the president of South Africa's popular political party African National Congress (ANC), Ramaphosa played a key role during the nation's transition to democracy during which he served as ANC's chief negotiator. He also played a crucial role in ending apartheid and was considered Nelson Mandela's political heir.
Mobutu Sese Seko was a Congolese military officer and politician. From 1965 to 1997, Mobutu served as the president of Zaire. During his long reign as the president, Mobutu garnered notoriety for nepotism and corruption. His life and work inspired Belgian filmmaker, Thierry Michel, to make a three-part documentary titled Mobutu, King of Zaire.
Ugandan politician, Yoweri Museveni, has been serving as the president of Uganda since 1986. He played a key role in a series of rebellions that overpowered Ugandan political leaders Idi Amin and Milton Obote before capturing power in the 1980s. Under his presidency, Uganda has achieved significant success in fighting HIV/AIDS. The country has also experienced relative peace under Museveni.
The incumbent Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta is the leader of the Jubilee Party of Kenya. Son of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, he was dragged into a controversy after sweeping the 2017 re-elections by winning 98% of the total votes. However, a Supreme Court ruling dismissed all charges against him.
William Ruto is a Kenyan politician and the current Kenyan deputy president. Between 6 and 8 October 2014, Ruto served as the acting president when President Uhuru Kenyatta was in the Netherlands at the International Criminal Court. Apart from being a politician, William Ruto also owns an interest in several real estate developments, including the Weston Hotel in Kenya.
Robert Mugabe was a Zimbabwean revolutionary. He played a major role in the Rhodesian Bush War, which eventually led to the Lancaster House Agreement, resulting in the creation of the Republic of Zimbabwe. Subsequently, Mugabe served as the first prime minister of Zimbabwe and later as its president. A controversial figure, Mugabe is also often criticized for his tyrannical ways.
Muhammadu Buhari is a Nigerian politician and the current president of Nigeria. Since becoming the president, Buhari has introduced many social welfare programs that address unemployment and poverty. The programs were mainly introduced to help increase economic development in the country.
Jacob Zuma is a South African politician and fourth president of South Africa. During his presidency, which lasted from 2009 to 2018, Zuma was accused of racketeering and corruption which ultimately led to his resignation. Apart from being a politician, Zuma also runs the Jacob Zuma Foundation, which aims at building houses for the poor and sending children to school.
Canaan Banana was a Zimbabwean politician, theologian, and Methodist minister. In 1980, Banana became the first president of Zimbabwe, a position which he held until 1987. Ten years later, he made the headlines when he was involved in a highly publicized trial after being accused of being a homosexual. He served six months in prison after being convicted of sodomy.
José Eduardo dos Santos is an Angolan politician. Having served as the president of Angola from 1979 to 2017, dos Santos is Africa's second-longest-serving president. An influential and powerful man, dos Santos also served as the Angolan Armed Forces' commander in chief throughout his presidency. In 2014, he was named Man of the Year by Africa World magazine.
Kenneth Kaunda is a Zambian former politician. He served as the first president of Zambia from 1964 to 1991. A major figure in Zambia’s struggle for independence from British rule, he became the first president of independent Zambia. As the president, he implemented many educational and economic reforms to accelerate the rate of modernization in the country.
Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe was a Nigerian political leader and statesman. From 1963 to 1966, Azikiwe served as the first president of Nigeria. Often referred to as the Father of Nigerian Nationalism, Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe played an important role in Nigeria's struggle for independence. He is also credited with establishing the University of Nigeria (UNN).
Sudanese rebel leader Salva Kiir Mayardit became the first president of South Sudan. In 2020, he signed an agreement with opposition leader and current vice president Riek Machar to share power and create a unified government, putting an end to a brutal civil war that has seen mass rapes and murders.
Somali military general Siad Barre became the country’s president after overthrowing the existing republic in 1969. His dictatorial rule witnessed the imposition of “Scientific Socialism” and a new Roman alphabet. He was forced into exile in Nigeria after a rebellion ousted him from power and launched a civil war.
Mwai Kibaki is a Kenyan politician. From 2002 to 2013, Kibaki served as the president of Kenya. Before being elected as the third president of Kenya, Kibaki served as the vice-president of Kenya from 1978 to 1988. Apart from being a politician, Kibaki is an avid golfer and is one of the most important members of the Muthaiga Golf Club.
Nana Akufo-Addo is a Ghanaian politician and the current President of Ghana. An important politician, Akufo-Addo also served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1 April 2003 to 1 July 2007. In 2017, Nana Akufo-Addo was honored by the Africa-America Institute with the prestigious National Achievement Award.
Samuel Doe led a violent coup against Liberian president William Tolbert, executing him. Doe then led as the country’s military leader and later became its president. He was eventually brutally tortured and killed by INPFL Prince Y. Johnson’s men, and the killing was taped and showcased in news reports.
Mozambican military leader and politician Samora Machel had humble beginnings and grew up facing racism. Though he initially trained as a nurse, he later got involved in the Mozambican struggle for independence against the Portuguese. He died in a mysterious plane crash in northeastern South Africa.
Paul Biya is a Cameroonian politician and the current president of Cameroon. Serving as Cameroon's president since 1982, Biya is Africa's second-longest-ruling president. He is also Africa's oldest head-of-state and the world's longest-ruling non-royal leader. Despite claims that most of his presidential elections were rigged, Paul Biya continues to serve as president of Cameroon.
The first president of Equatorial Guinea, Francisco Macías Nguema transformed his nation into what critics called the Dachau of Africa, killing or exiling about a third of its population and declaring himself the president for life. He was eventually executed after a coup by his own nephew.
Léopold Sédar Senghor was a Senegalese cultural theorist, poet, and politician. He was Senegal's first president, a position in which he served from 1960 to 1980. Widely regarded as one of the 20th century's most prominent African intellectuals, Senghor is credited with founding the Senegalese Democratic Bloc party. Senghor received many awards, including the African Studies Association's Lifetime Achievement Award.
People have often compared Jean-Bédel Bokassa to the tyrannical Roman emperor Nero. The Central African military leader who later took over as the president and emperor of Central Africa, had opened the country to foreign investors, while he allegedly fed his rivals to crocodiles and lions in his personal zoo.
Umaru Musa Yar'Adua became President of Nigeria after winning the highly-controversial 2007 presidential election as candidate of PDP. He earlier served as Governor of Katsina. He went to Saudi Arabia in November 2009 to receive treatment for pericarditis. He was never seen in public again and although he returned to Nigeria in February 2010, he died in May that year.
An Oxford graduate, Nigerian military leader and politician C. Odumegwu Ojukwu started his career as an administrative officer. He later reigned at the governor of the Eastern Region in Nigeria and became the 1st president of Biafra. He won many accolades, including the honorary title of the Ikemba of Nnewi.
Sahle-Work Zewde is an Ethiopian diplomat and politician. In 2018, she became the first woman to be elected to the president's office in Ethiopia and has been serving as the president of Ethiopia since then. Sahle-Work Zewde has been featured on Forbes magazine's World's 100 Most Powerful Women list.
Somalian president and Peace and Development Party founder Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud came to power in 2012, marking the end of the Somalian civil war. He has also been a professor and a consultant. He has been the target of several violent attacks, most notably in a Mogadishu hotel in 2012.
The president of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio had previously been a brigadier general with the country’s army. He is one of the 35 children of Sherbro Paramount Chief Charlie Bio II. After multiple military coups, Bio became an SLPP member. His main focus is on healthcare and renewable energy.
The great-grandson of a leader who founded his village, Nigerian politician Shehu Shagari served as the 6th president and the 1st democratically elected president of Nigeria. Initially a teacher, he joined politics as the secretary of the Northern People's Congress. He strengthened the economy of Nigeria and deported countless West African migrants.
Former Haitian president Henry Christophe also declared himself the king of northern Haiti as Henry I. Apart from spending lavishly on building palaces for himself, he also restored soldier peasants and gifted plantations to military leaders. He eventually committed suicide by shooting himself, fearing a coup against him.