When thinking about Liberation movements or activists that have made a significant contribution in shaping African history, we often think of names like Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan etc. These are people who could change Africa current position if they could implement their concepts or ideas for last 60 years since Africans countries beginning to gain their semi- independent from outsiders force.
Here are some names that are often overlooked but where instrumental in the fight for the liberation of the African continent. Check Top 7 African Heroes who changed the African Continent.
7. Wole Soyinka – Top 7 African Heroes
Akinwande Oluwole Babatunde Soyinka, known as Wole Soyinka, is a Nigerian playwright, poet and essayist. He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first African to be honoured in that category. Soyinka has been a strong critic of successive Nigerian governments, especially the country’s many military dictators, as well as other political tyrannies, including the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. Much of his writing has been concerned with “the oppressive boot and the irrelevance of the colour of the foot that wears it”. During the regime of General Sani Abacha, Soyinka escaped from Nigeria on a motorcycle via the “NADECO Route.” Abacha later proclaimed a death sentence against him “in absentia. With civilian rule restored to Nigeria in 1999, Soyinka returned to his nation.
In Nigeria, Soyinka was a Professor of Comparative Literature at the Obafemi Awolowo University, then called the University of Ife. With civilian rule restored to Nigeria in 1999, he was made professor emeritus. While in the United States, he first taught at Cornell University as Goldwin Smith professor for African Studies and Theatre Arts from 1988-1991 and then at Emory University where in 1996 he was appointed Robert W. Woodruff Professor of the Arts. Soyinka was one of the African Heroes in literature.
6. Patrice Lumumba
Patrice Émery Lumumba was a Congolese politician and independence leader who served as the first Prime Minister of the independent Democratic Republic of the Congo (then Republic of the Congo) from June until September 1960. He played a significant role in the transformation of the Congo from a colony of Belgium into an independent republic. Ideologically an African nationalist and Pan-Africanist, he led the Movement National Congolais (MNC) party from 1958 until his death.
Lumumba was subsequently imprisoned by state authorities under Mobutu and executed by a firing squad under the command of Katangan authorities. Following his death, he was widely seen as a martyr for the wider Pan-African movement. Patrice Lumumba is one of the few African Heroes that made an history for himself.
5. Julius Nyerere – Top 7 African Heroes
Julius Nyerere was a Tanzanian anti-colonial activist, politician, and political theorist. He governed Tanganyika as its Prime Minister from 1961 to 1963 and then as its President from 1963 to 1964, after which he led its successor state, Tanzania, as its President from 1964 until 1985. He was a founding member of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) party and later a member of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi party. Ideologically an African nationalist and African socialist, he promoted a political philosophy known as Ujamaa.
Nyerere is still a controversial figure. Across Africa he gained widespread respect as an anti-colonialist, although his government employed massive forced relocations of its people, was accused of economic mismanagement, and criticised for using detention without trial to deal with domestic dissent. He is held in deep respect within Tanzania, where he is often referred to by the Swahili honorific Mwalimu (“teacher”), and described as the “Father of the Nation”. He was recognised and called in African as one of the great African Heroes.
4. Robert Mugabe
Robert Gabriel Mugabe is a Zimbabwean politician and revolutionary who served as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe from 1980 to 1987 and then as President from 1987 to 2017. He chaired the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) group from 1975 to 1980 and led its successor political party, the ZANU – Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF), from 1980 to 2017. Ideologically an African nationalist, during the 1970s and 1980s he identified as a Marxist–Leninist, although after the 1990s self-identified only as a socialist. His policies have been described as Mugabeism.
Having dominated Zimbabwe’s politics for nearly four decades, Mugabe has been a controversial and divisive figure. He has been praised as a revolutionary African Hero liberation struggle who helped to free Zimbabwe from British colonialism, imperialism and white minority rule.
3. Kofi Annan
Kofi Atta Annan was a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, from January 1997 to December 2006. Annan and the UN were the co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. He was the founder and chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation, as well as chairman of The Elders, an international organization founded by Nelson Mandela. He was also one of the greatest African hero of his time.
The first African to be elected from the ranks of UN staff, Kofi Annan was the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations. One of his biggest contributions – what he calls his “personal priority” – is the fight against HIV/AIDS. Annan will be remembered both for his Five-Point Call to Action to combat the pandemic, and the creation of the Global AIDS and Health Fund – which eventually earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001. The fund has been instrumental in fighting HIV/AIDS and reducing its prevalence considerably through various interventions. So far, it has received some US$1.5 billion in pledges and contributions.
2. Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, peace activist, one of African Heroes and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid by tackling institutionalised racism and fostering racial reconciliation.
He flees to Johannesburg to avoid an arranged marriage. Works as a watchman and then a clerk as he pursues a degree in law. Activism knocks at his door and he joins the African National Congress, establishing a youth league with one Oliver Tambo and so begins the fight against apartheid. The man and seven defendants are brought before a judge in the famous Rivonia Trial. They escape the gallows but face life imprisonment. The man, after the sentence, says defiantly: “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.
It is an ideal that I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” He spends 27 years in a horrible prison, a former leper colony; Robben Island. He is released as apartheid crumbles. The man becomes a free South Africa’s first president. There is a Nobel Peace Prize. And lots of advocacy work. On 5 December 2013 the man dies. Only some men just don’t die.
1. Chinua Achebe
Chinua Achebe was a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic. His first novel Things Fall Apart, often considered his best, is the most widely read book in modern African literature. He won the Man Booker International Prize in 2007.
The book has sold over 12 million copies and been translated into more than 50 languages. Chinua Achebe fought colonialism and Western biases through his writing, but more importantly he sought to revive literature and to rewrite the story of a continent that had long been told by Western voices. As well as influencing African writing, Achebe’s work contained strong moral energy that captured the loss that faced many Africans as Western empires invaded and threatened their lives. He was recognised as the one time biggest heroes of Africa.