It would take an entire book (or several books) to describe all the famous people of Africa. Below you will see a list of many of these personalities followed by a description of them. Some of the people listed are from the past and some are still alive. The list includes presidents, religious leaders, warriors, and kings.

List of famous people of Africa

  • Nelson Mandela
  • Desmond Tutu
  • Shaka (Zulu King)
  • Cetewayo (Zulu King)
  • Kofi Annan

Nelson Mandela

Of all the famous people of Africa perhaps Nelson Mandela is the most known. This great leader helped free his nation from apartheid. He was born in the South African town of Transkei in 1918. Outraged when the National Party which supported racism came to power in South Africa he became active in fighting for equal rights for all people in South Africa. He founded the military wing of the African National Congress which was involved in sabotaging government installations. He was put in prison in 1990 and stayed there for twenty seven years. During his time in prison his popularity grew. He organized political education classes in jail and continued his fight against apartheid. After being released from jail he became the first democratically elected president of South Africa. He died in December of 2013.

Desmond Tutu

Winner of the Noble Peace Prize in 1984 Bishop Desmond Tutu is a world renowned religious leader who has fought diligently against apartheid, xenophobic violence in South Africa and other violence against human beings both black and white. He was born in South Africa in 1931 and has been honored with many awards. He has also served many high post, including General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches, Dean of Saint Mary's Cathedral in Johannesburg, and Bishop of Lesotho.


Shaka was a famous African Zulu king and warrior. He was born in 1786 and was the son of the Zulu chief Senzangakona. At the age of twenty six his father died and left Shaka's brother as king. As a prime example of his ruthlessness, sometime around 1820, he killed his brother and became king. He would become famous for his brutality. Shaka was a military genius training his warriors in special military tactics and in the use of modern weapons. Under his rule the Zulu people became a powerful nation numbering over one million. His troops were feared by enemies and his motto was "Death or victory".


Cetewayo ruled over the Zulu kingdom from 1872 to 1879 and was the king during the Anglo-Zulu War. In 1879 his army defeated the British at the battle of Isandlhwana in Zululand South Africa. This was the worst defeat the British would ever experience against an African enemy. However the British eventually regrouped and Cetewayo was captured and imprisoned. Three years later Queen Victoria granted him a pardon and he returned to his home land. In 1884 he died from what was believed to be a heart attack but may have been a poisoning.

Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan was the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, serving from 1997 to 2007. In 2001 he won the Nobel Peace Prize. He was born in Kumasi, Ghana on April 8th, 1938. He influenced world politics in a positive manner and worked diligently at resolving conflicts between nations in a peaceful manner.

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