List of Pan-Africanists. Pan-Africanism, the idea that peoples of African descent have common interests and should be unified. Historically, Pan-Africanism has often taken the shape of a political or cultural movement. There are many varieties of Pan-Africanism. In its narrowest political manifestation, Pan-Africanists envision a unified African nation where all people of the African diaspora can live. (African diaspora refers to the long-term historical process by which people of African descent have been scattered from their ancestral homelands to other parts of the world.) In more-general terms, Pan-Africanism is the sentiment that people of African descent have a great deal in common, a fact that deserves notice and even celebration.
Pan-Africanism is a worldwide movement that aims to encourage and strengthen bonds of solidarity between all indigenous and diaspora ethnic groups of African descent. Based on a common goal dating back to the Atlantic slave trade, the movement extends beyond continental Africans with a substantial support base among the African diaspora in the Americas and Europe.
Pan-Africanism can be said to have its origins in the struggles of the African people against enslavement and colonization and this struggle may be traced back to the first resistance on slave ships—rebellions and suicides—through the constant plantation and colonial uprisings and the “Back to Africa” movements of the 19th century. Based on the belief that unity is vital to economic, social, and political progress and aims to “unify and uplift” people of African descent.
At its core, pan-Africanism is a belief that “African people, both on the continent and in the diaspora, share not merely a common history, but a common destiny”. Pan-Africanist intellectual, cultural, and political movements tend to view all Africans and descendants of Africans as belonging to a single “race” and/or sharing cultural unity. Pan-Africanism posits a sense of a shared historical fate for Africans in America, West Indies, and on the continent, itself centered on the Atlantic trade in slaves, African slavery, and European imperialism.
Pan-African thought influenced the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union) in 1963. The African Union Commission has its seat in Addis Ababa and the Pan-African Parliament has its seat in Johannesburg and Midrand.
Pan-Africanism stresses the need for “collective self-reliance”. Pan-Africanism exists as a governmental and grassroots objective. Pan-African advocates include leaders such as Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Haile Selassie, Julius Nyerere, Robert Sobukwe, Ahmed Sékou Touré, Kwame Nkrumah, King Sobhuza II, Robert Mugabe, Thomas Sankara, Kwame Ture, Dr. John Pombe Magufuli, Muammar Gaddafi, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, grassroots organizers such as Joseph Robert Love, Marcus Garvey, and Malcolm X, academics such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Anténor Firmin and others in the diaspora.
Founding Fathers of the OAU 1963 and OAU Charter
The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was established on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with 32 signatory governments. One of the main heads for OAU’s establishment was Kwame Nkrumah. It was disbanded on 9 July 2002 by its last chairperson, South African President Thabo Mbeki, and replaced by the African Union (AU). Some of the key aims of the OAU were to encourage political and economic integration among member states, and to eradicate colonialism and neo-colonialism from the African continent. Although it achieved some success, there were also differences of opinion as to how that was going to be achieved.
At the 2001 OAU summit meeting of African presidents in Libya, the leaders committed themselves to the idea of developing an African Union to replace the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). In 2002 the OAU was dissolved and was replaced by the African Union (AU).
25 May, now celebrated as Africa Day, marks the beginning of a quest for the unity of the continent and for the political and economic emancipation of its people as well as co-operation among them.
Here is a List of Founding Fathers of the OAU in 1963
#1. Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
Sir Abubakar Tafawa BalewaKBE PC (December 1912 – 15 January 1966) was a Nigerian politician who served as the first and only Prime Minister of Nigeria upon independence
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was born in December 1912 in modern-day Bauchi State, in the Northern Nigeria Protectorate. Balewa’s father, Yakubu Dan Zala, was of Gere ethnicity, and his mother Fatima Inna was of Gere and Fulani descent. His father worked in the house of the district head of Lere, a district within the Bauchi Emirate.
#2. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah
Kwame NkrumahPC (21 September 1909 – 27 April 1972) was a Ghanaian politician, political theorist, and revolutionary. He was the first Prime Minister and President of Ghana, having led the Gold Coast to independence from Britain in 1957. An influential advocate of Pan-Africanism, Nkrumah was a founding member of the Organization of African Unity and winner of the Lenin Peace Prize from the Soviet Union in 1962
Nkrumah was an ardent promoter of pan-Africanism, seeing the movement as the “quest for regional integration of the whole of the African continent”. The period of Nkrumah’s active political involvement has been described as the “golden age of high pan-African ambitions”; the continent had experienced rising nationalist movements and decolonization by most European colonial powers, and historians have noted that “the narrative of rebirth and solidarity had gained momentum within the pan-Africanist movement”. Reflecting his African heritage, Nkrumah frequently eschewed Western fashion, donning a fugu (a Northern attire) made with Southern-produced Kente cloth, a symbol of his identity as a representative of the entire country. He oversaw the opening of the Ghana Museum on 5 March 1957; the Arts Council of Ghana, a wing of the Ministry of Education and Culture, in 1958; the Research Library on African Affairs in June 1961; and the Ghana Film Corporation in 1964. In 1962, Nkrumah opened the Institute of African Studies
#3. His Majesty Haile Selassie I
Haile Selassie I (Ge’ez: ቀዳማዊ ኀይለ ሥላሴ, romanized: Qädamawi Häylä Səllasé, Amharic pronunciation: [ˈhaɪlə sɨlˈlase] ; born Tafari Makonnen; 23 July 1892 – 27 August 1975) was Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. Prior to his coronation, he had been the Regent Plenipotentiary of Ethiopia from 1916. He is a defining figure in modern Ethiopian history, and the key figure of Rastafari, a religious movement in Jamaica which emerged shortly after he became emperor in the 1930s. He was a member of the Solomonic dynasty which claims to trace lineage to Emperor Menelik I, supposedly the son of King Solomon and Makeda the Queen of Sheba.
In 1963, Haile Selassie presided over the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the precursor of the continent-wide African Union (AU). The new organization would establish its headquarters in Addis Ababa. In May of that year, Haile Selassie was elected as the OAU’s first official chairperson, a rotating seat. Along with Modibo Keïta of Mali, the Ethiopian leader would later help successfully negotiate the Bamako Accords, which brought an end to the border conflict between Morocco and Algeria. In 1964, Haile Selassie would initiate the concept of the United States of Africa, a proposition later taken up by Muammar Gaddafi.
On 4 October 1963, Haile Selassie addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations referring in his address to his earlier speech to the League of Nations:
Twenty-seven years ago, as Emperor of Ethiopia, I mounted the rostrum in Geneva, Switzerland, to address the League of Nations and to appeal for relief from the destruction which had been unleashed against my defenceless nation, by the fascist invader. I spoke then both to and for the conscience of the world. My words went unheeded, but history testifies to the accuracy of the warning that I gave in 1936. Today, I stand before the world organization which has succeeded to the mantle discarded by its discredited predecessor. In this body is enshrined the principle of collective security which I unsuccessfully invoked at Geneva. Here, in this Assembly, reposes the best – perhaps the last – hope for the peaceful survival of mankind
#4. Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein
Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein (/ɡəˈmɑːlæbdɛlˈnɑːsər/; 15 January 1918 – 28 September 1970) was an Egyptian politician who served as the second president of Egypt from 1954 until his death in 1970. Nasser led the 1952 overthrow of the monarchy and introduced far-reaching land reforms the following year. Following a 1954 attempt on his life by a Muslim Brotherhood member, he cracked down on the organization, put President Mohamed Naguib under house arrest and assumed executive office. He was formally elected president in June 1956.
After years of foreign policy coordination and developing ties, Nasser, President Sukarno of Indonesia, President Tito of Yugoslavia, and Prime Minister Nehru of India founded the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in 1961. Its declared purpose was to solidify international non-alignment and promote world peace amid the Cold War, end colonization, and increase economic cooperation among developing countries. In 1964, Nasser was made president of the NAM and held the second conference of the organization in Cairo.
Nasser played a significant part in the strengthening of African solidarity in the late 1950s and early 1960s, although his continental leadership role had increasingly passed to Algeria since 1962. During this period, Nasser made Egypt a refuge for anti-colonial leaders from several African countries and allowed the broadcast of anti-colonial propaganda from Cairo. Beginning in 1958, Nasser had a key role in the discussions among African leaders that led to the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963
#5. Ahmed Ben Bella
Ahmed Ben Bella (Arabic: أحمد بن بلّةAḥmad bin Billah; 25 December 1916 – 11 April 2012) was an Algerian politician, soldier, and socialist revolutionary who served as the first President of Algeria from 1963 to 1965.
In international relations, he had to maintain connections with the former colonial master France, and also accepted economic aid from both the U.S. and the Soviet Union, as each sought to move his regime into its orbit and into opposition to the other. At the same time, Ben Bella wished Algeria to become a leader of Third World liberation movements and of the Third World itself.
In order to strengthen relations with other colonies and former colonies, Algeria joined the Non-Aligned Movement under Ben Bella’s regime, and he forged links with such African leaders as Gamal Abdel Nasser, Kwame Nkrumah, Modibo Keita and Sekou Toure to aid rebel movements throughout Africa. He also established good relations with Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and Cuba; after his 1962 visit, Cuba sent a health mission to Algeria, with doctors and medical help, and later sent weapons and soldiers as aid during the Sand War against Morocco. He was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union on 30 April 1964.
#6. Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke
Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke (Somali: Cabdirashiid Cali Sharmaarke, Arabic: عبد الرشيد علي شارماركي) (June 8, 1919 – October 15, 1969), also known as Abdirashid Shermarke, was Prime Minister of Somali Republic from July 12, 1960, to June 14, 1964, and President of Somali Republic from July 6, 1967, until his assassination on October 15, 1969. He was the father of Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke.
Sharmarke was born in 1919 in the town of Harardhere in the north-central Mudug region of Somalia. His father hailed from the Majeerteen Osman Mohamoud clan and his mother from the Habar Gidir (Sacad Siciid) clan.
Raised in Mogadishu by his mother, Sharmarke attended Qur’anic schools and completed his elementary education in 1936. He then embarked on a career as a trader and later as a civil servant in the Italian colonial administration.
In 1943, the year of its inauguration, Sharmarke joined the incipient Somali Youth League political party. He entered the British administration’s civil service the following year.
While still a civil servant, Sharmarke completed his secondary education in 1953. He earned a scholarship to study at the Sapienza University of Rome, where he obtained a BA in Political Science. In 1960, his son, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, who would later become Prime Minister of the Somali Transitional Federal Government, was born.
#7. Apollo Milton Obote
Apollo Milton Obote (28 December 1925 – 10 October 2005) was a Ugandan political leader who led Uganda to independence from British colonial rule in 1962. Following the nation’s independence, he served as prime minister of Uganda from 1962 to 1966 and the second president of Uganda from 1966 to 1971, then again from 1980 to 1985.
He was overthrown in a coup d’état by Idi Amin in 1971, but was re-elected in 1980 a year after Amin’s 1979 overthrow. His second period of rule ended after a long and bloody conflict known as the Ugandan Bush War, during which he was overthrown a second time by another coup d’état in 1985, prompting him to live the rest of his life in exile.
#8. Ahmadou Babatoura Ahidjo
Ahmadou Babatoura Ahidjo (24 August 1924 – 30 November 1989) was a Cameroonian politician who was the first President of Cameroon, holding the office from 1960 until 1982. Ahidjo played a major role in Cameroon’s independence from France as well as reuniting the French and English-speaking parts of the country. During Ahidjo’s time in office, he established a centralized political system. Ahidjo established a single-party state under the Cameroon National Union (CNU) in 1966. In 1972, Ahidjo abolished the federation in favor of a unitary state.
Ahidjo resigned from the presidency in 1982, and Paul Biya assumed the presidency. This was an action that was surprising to Cameroonians. Accused of being behind a coup plot against Biya in 1984, Ahidjo was sentenced to death in absentia, but he died of natural causes in 1989.
#9. Ahmed Sékou Touré
Ahmed Sékou Touré (var. Sheku Turay or Ture; N’Ko: ߛߋߞߎ߬ ߕߎ߬ߙߋ; January 9, 1922 – March 26, 1984) was a Guinean political leader and African statesman who became the first president of Guinea, serving from 1958 until his death in 1984. Touré was among the primary Guinean nationalists involved in gaining independence of the country from France.
A devout Muslim from the Mandinka ethnic group, Sékou Touré was the great grandson of the powerful Mandinka Muslim cleric Samori Ture who established an independent Islamic rule in part of West Africa. In 1960, he declared his Democratic Party of Guinea (Parti démocratique de Guinée, PDG) the only legal party in the state, and ruled from then on as a virtual dictator. He was re-elected unopposed to four seven-year terms in the absence of any legal opposition. Under his rule many people were killed, including at the notorious Camp Boiro.
#10. Moktar Ould Daddah
Moktar Ould Daddah (Arabic: مختار ولد داداه, romanized: Mukhtār Wald Dāddāh; December 25, 1924 – October 14, 2003) was the President of Mauritania from 1960, when his country gained its independence from France, to 1978, when he was deposed in a military coup d’etat.
He established a one-party state, with his Mauritanian People’s Party being the sole legal political entity in the country, and followed a policy of “Islamic socialism” with many nationalizations of private businesses; in foreign affairs, he joined the Non-Aligned Movement and maintained strong links with Mao Zedong and the People’s Republic of China, but he also accepted Western (especially French) foreign aid.
#11. Léopold Sédar Senghor
Léopold Sédar Senghor (/sɒŋˈɡɔːr/; French: [sɑ̃ɡɔʁ]; 9 October 1906 – 20 December 2001) was a Senegalese poet, politician and cultural theorist who, for two decades, served as the first president of Senegal (1960–80). Ideologically an African socialist, he was the major theoretician of Négritude. Senghor was also the founder of the Senegalese Democratic Bloc party. Senghor was the first African elected as a member of the Académie française. He won the 1985 International Nonino Prize in Italy. He is regarded by many as one of the most important African intellectuals of the 20th century.
#12. Julius Kambarage Nyerere
Julius Kambarage Nyerere (Swahili pronunciation: [ˈdʒuːlius kɑmˈbɑɾɑgɑ ɲɛˈɾɛɾɛ]; (13 April 1922 – 14 October 1999) was a Tanzanian anti-colonial activist, politician, and political theorist. He governed Tanganyika as Prime Minister from 1961 to 1962 and then as President from 1963 to 1964, after which he led its successor state, Tanzania, as President from 1964 to 1985. He was a founding member and chair of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) party, and of its successor Chama Cha Mapinduzi, from 1954 to 1990. Ideologically an African nationalist and African socialist, he promoted a political philosophy known as Ujamaa.
Following the Zanzibar Revolution of 1964, the island of Zanzibar was unified with Tanganyika to form Tanzania. After this, Nyerere placed a growing emphasis on national self-reliance and socialism. Although his socialism differed from that promoted by Marxism–Leninism, Tanzania developed close links with Mao Zedong’s Marxist China. In 1967, Nyerere issued the Arusha Declaration which outlined his vision of ujamaa. Banks and other major industries and companies were nationalised; education and healthcare were significantly expanded. Renewed emphasis was placed on agricultural development through the formation of communal farms, although these reforms hampered food production and left areas dependent on food aid. His government provided training and aid to anti-colonialist groups fighting white-minority rule throughout southern Africa and oversaw Tanzania’s 1978–1979 war with Uganda which resulted in the overthrow of Ugandan President Idi Amin. In 1985, Nyerere stood down and was succeeded by Ali Hassan Mwinyi, who reversed many of Nyerere’s policies. He remained chair of Chama Cha Mapinduzi until 1990, supporting a transition to a multi-party system, and later served as mediator in attempts to end the Burundian Civil War.
#13. Mwambutsa IV Bangiricenge
Mwambutsa IV Bangiricenge (6 May 1912 – 26 March 1977) was king (mwami) of Burundi who ruled between 1915 and 1966. He succeeded to the throne on the death of his father Mutaga IV Mbikije (reigned 1908–15). Born while Burundi was under German colonial rule, Mwambutsa’s reign mostly coincided with Belgian colonial rule (1916–62). The Belgians retained the monarchs of both Rwanda and Burundi under the policy of indirect rule
Mwambutsa became a ruler in his own right on 28 August 1929, when the regency council declared he was of-age for the throne. On 24 December 1930 he married Thérèse Kanyonga, a Tutsi of the Abasine clan. He married her because she was Catholic.
Mwambutsa actively distanced himself from partisan politics, saying on 8 February 1960, “I do not belong to any political party…I do not authorize anyone and no party to claim exclusivity of my patronage or to discredit, in my name, any other party having as its goal the interest of the Barundi.” In June 1962, shortly before Urundi’s independence, he went on a tour of villages throughout the country to present a speech appealing to residents to commit to hard work and to respect law and order.
#14. King Idris
Idris (Arabic: إدريس الأول; El Sayyid Prince Muhammad Idris bin Muhammad al-Mahdi as-Senussi; 13 March 1890 – 25 May 1983) was a Libyan political and religious leader who served as the Emir of Cyrenaica and then as the King of the United Kingdom of Libya (renamed as the Kingdom of Libya in 1963) from 1951 to 1969. He was the chief of the Senussi Muslim order.
Idris was born into the Senussi Order. When his cousin, Ahmed Sharif as-Senussi, abdicated as leader of the Order, Idris took his position. The Senussi campaign was taking place, with the British and Italians fighting the Order. Idris put an end to the hostilities and, through the Modus vivendi of Acroma, abandoned Ottoman protection. Between 1919 and 1920, Italy recognized Senussi control over most of Cyrenaica in exchange for the recognition of Italian sovereignty by Idris. Idris then led his Order in an unsuccessful attempt to conquer the eastern part of the Tripolitanian Republic.
#15. David Dacko
David Dacko (French pronunciation: [david dako]; 1927 – 21 November 2003) was a Central African politician who served as the first president of the Central African Republic from 14 August 1960 to 1 January 1966, and 3rd President from 21 September 1979 to 1 September 1981. After his second removal from power in a coup d’état led by General André Kolingba, he pursued an active career as an opposition politician and presidential candidate with many loyal supporters; Dacko was an important political figure in the country for over 50 years.
Dacko was born in the village of Bouchia, near Mbaïki in the Lobaye region, which was then a part of the French Equatorial African territory of Ubangi-Shari to Joseph Iniabodé and Marie Okolania. His parents belonged to the same ethnic group. A M’Baka (Ngbaka), he was a distant cousin of future rival Jean-Bédel Bokassa. Soon after Dacko’s birth, his family moved to Boda, where his father worked in a store belonging to a European coffee planter in Bonini named Tancret. In 1937, his father converted to Catholicism, after which he decided to stay married to one wife and sent the others away, including his mother. In 1938, he was sent to live with his uncle, Jêrome Gaza in Mbaïki. He began primary school in Mbaiki, where his father worked as a plantation’s night watchman. He continued his primary education in Bambari before being admitted to the Ecole normale of Mouyoundzi in Moyen Congo.
#16. Modibo Keïta
Modibo Keïta (4 June 1915 – 16 May 1977) was the first President of Mali (1960–1968) and the Prime Minister of the Mali Federation. He espoused a form of African socialism.
Keïta was born in Bamako-Coura, a neighborhood of Bamako, which was at the time the capital of French Sudan. His family were Malian Muslims who claimed direct descent from the Keita dynasty, the founders of the medieval Mali Empire. His nickname after primary schooling was Modo. He was educated in Bamako and at the école normale William-Ponty in Dakar, where he was top of his class. Beginning in 1936, he worked as a teacher in Bamako, Sikasso and Tombouctou. He married Mariam Travélé, who was also a teacher, in September 1939.
Modibo Keïta devoted his entire life to African unity. He first played a part in the creation of the Federation of Mali with Léopold Sédar Senghor. After its collapse, he moved away from Léopold Sédar Senghor, but with Sékou Touré, the president of Guinea, and Kwame Nkrumah, the President of Ghana, he formed the Union of the States of Western Africa. In 1963, he played an important role in drafting the charter of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
In 1963, he invited the king of Morocco and the president of Algeria to Bamako, in the hope of ending the Sand War, a frontier conflict between the two nations. Along with Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, Keïta was successful in negotiating the Bamako Accords, which brought an end to the conflict. As a result, he won the Lenin Peace Prize that year.
From 1963 to 1966, he normalized relations with the countries of Senegal, Upper Volta and Côte d’Ivoire. An advocate of the Non-Aligned Movement, Modibo defended the nationalist movements like the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN).
#17. Habib Bourguiba
Habib Bourguiba (/bʊərˈɡiːbə/; Arabic: الحبيب بورقيبة, romanized: al-Ḥabīb Būrqībah; 3 August 1903[a] – 6 April 2000) was a Tunisian lawyer, nationalist leader and statesman who led the country from 1956 to 1957 as the prime minister of the Kingdom of Tunisia (1956–57) then as the first president of Tunisia (1957–87). Prior to his presidency, he led the nation to independence from France, ending the 75-year-old protectorate and earning the title of “Supreme Combatant”.
Born in Monastir to a poor family, he attended Sadiki College then Lycée Carnot in Tunis, before obtaining his baccalaureate in 1924. He graduated from the University of Paris in 1927 and returned to Tunis to practice law. In the early 1930s, he became involved in anti-colonial and Tunisian national politics, joining the Destour party and co-founding the Neo Destour in 1934. He rose as a key figure of the independence movement and was repeatedly arrested by the colonial administration. His involvement in the riots of 9 April 1938 resulted in his exile to Marseille during World War II.
On 5 March 2000, Bourguiba was rushed to the Tunis military hospital, following a pneumonitis. His condition deemed critical, he underwent thoracentesis while in the ICU. His health improved, he left hospital on 13 March to get back to his house in Monastir. He died there at officially 96 years old, on 6 April 2000 at 9:50 pm .President Ben Ali, therefore, proclaimed seven days of national mourning while Algeria announced three days of national mourning. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika stated that Bourguiba was “One of the Maghreb most influential personalities of the 20th century, which Africa and the entire world can boast”. Meanwhile, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, paid a tribute to “the man of peace” and to “the architect of the Organization of African Unity”
#18. AbbéFulbert Youlou
AbbéFulbert Youlou (29 June, 17 June or 19 July 1917 – 6 May 1972) was a laicized Brazzaville-Congolese Roman Catholic priest, nationalist leader and politician, who became the first President of the Republic of the Congo on its independence.
In August 1960, he led his country into independence. In December 1960 he organised an intercontinental conference in Brazzaville, in the course of which he praised the advantages of economic liberalism and condemned communism. Three years later, he left power. Youlou disappointed many from the North when he imposed a single party system and imprisoned union leaders in August 1963; this led to the revolution of the “Trois Glorieuses.” Charles de Gaulle despised him and France refused to assist him. He resigned in the face of overwhelming opposition to his governance.
#19. Hamani Diori
Hamani Diori (6 June 1916 – 23 April 1989) was the first President of the Republic of Niger. He was appointed to that office in 1960, when Niger gained independence. Although corruption was a common feature of his administration, he gained international respect for his role as a spokesman for African affairs and as a popular arbitrator in conflicts. His rule ended with a coup in 1974.
In 1946, while working as the headmaster of a school in Niger’s capital city of Niamey, he became one of the founders of the Nigerien Progressive Party (PPN), a regional branch of the African Democratic Rally (RDA). Later that year, he was elected to the French National Assembly. In the 1951 election, Diori was defeated by his cousin and political rival Djibo Bakary. He was again elected to the assembly in 1956, and was chosen deputy-speaker.
In 1958, after a referendum that granted Niger self-government, Diori became president of the provisional government. He then became Prime Minister of the republic in 1959.
#20. Maurice Yaméogo
Maurice Yaméogo (31 December 1921 – 15 September 1993) was the first President of the Republic of Upper Volta, now called Burkina Faso, from 1959 until 1966.
“Monsieur Maurice” embodied the Voltaic state at the moment of independence. However, his political ascension did not occur without difficulties. As a member of the colonial administration from 1946, Maurice Yaméogo found a place for himself in the busy political landscape of Upper Volta thanks to his skill as a speaker. In May 1957, during the formation of the first Upper Voltaic government instituted under the Loi Cadre Defferre, he joined the coalition government formed by Ouezzin Coulibaly, as minister for agriculture and a member of the Voltaic Democratic Movement (MDV). In January 1958, threatened by a vote of censure, Coulibaly enticed Maurice Yaméogo and his allies in the assembly to join the Voltaic Democratic Union-African Democratic Assembly (UDV-RDA) in exchange for promises of promotion within the government. Maurice Yaméogo rose to be his second in command, with the portfolio of the Interior, a position which allowed him to assume the role of interim head of government, following Coulibay’s death in September 1958.
His rather shaky political ascendancy was reinforced by circumstances. After the proclamation of the Republic of Upper Volta on 11 December 1958, he made a surprising volte-face with respect to the Mali Federation advocated by Léopold Sédar Senghor. The Voltaic assembly supported Upper Volta’s membership in the Federation, but Yaméogo opted for political sovereignty and limited economic integration with the Conseil de l’Entente. Then, by means of controversial manoeuvres, Yaméogo eliminated all parliamentary opposition. The UDV-RDA was purged of his enemies and he imposed a one party system. Upper Volta found itself under a dictatorship even before its independence on 5 August 1960.
#21. King Hassan II
Hassan II (Arabic: الحسن الثاني, romanized: al-Ḥasan aṯ-ṯānī; 9 July 1929 – 23 July 1999) was the King of Morocco from 1961 until his death in 1999. He was a member of the ‘Alawi dynasty, who has been ruling Morocco since the mid 17th century and claim direct descent from the Prophet Muhammad. He was the eldest son of Sultan Mohammed V, and his second wife, Lalla Abla bint Tahar. He was the first commander-in-chief of the Royal Armed Forces and was named crown prince in 1957.
He was enthroned as king in 1961 following his father’s death. Hassan’s reign was marked by the start of the Western Sahara conflict and the Sand War, he was also the target of two failed coup d’états. Hassan’s conservative rule reportedly strengthened the ‘Alawi dynasty’s rule over Morocco. He was accused of authoritarian practices and civil rights abuses, particularly during the Years of Lead. A truth commission was set up after his death to investigate allegations of human rights violations during his reign.
#22. Philibert Tsiranana
Philibert Tsiranana (18 October 1912 – 16 April 1978) was a Malagasy politician and leader, who served as the first President of Madagascar from 1959 to 1972.
During the twelve years of his administration, the Republic of Madagascar experienced institutional stability that stood in contrast to the political turmoil many mainland African countries experienced in this period. This stability contributed to Tsiranana’s popularity and his reputation as a remarkable statesman. Madagascar experienced moderate economic growth under his social democrat policies and came to be known as “the Happy Island.” However, the electoral process was fraught with issues and his term ultimately terminated in a series of farmer and student protests that brought about the end of the First Republic and the establishment of the officially socialist Second Republic.
The “benevolent schoolmaster” public image that Tsiranana cultivated went alongside a firmness of convictions and actions that some believe tended toward authoritarianism. Nonetheless, he remains an esteemed Malagasy political figure remembered throughout the country as its “Father of Independence”.
#23. William Vacanarat Shadrach Tubman
William Vacanarat Shadrach Tubman (29 November 1895 – 23 July 1971) was a Liberian politician. He was the 19th President of Liberia and the longest-serving president in the country’s history, serving from his election in 1944 until his death in 1971.
Tubman is regarded as the “father of modern Liberia”; his presidency was marked by attracting sufficient foreign investment to modernize the economy and infrastructure. During his tenure, Liberia experienced a period of prosperity. He also led a policy of national unification in order to reduce the social and political differences between his fellow Americo-Liberians and the indigenous Liberians.
#24. Sylvanus Épiphanio Olympio
Sylvanus Épiphanio Olympio (French pronunciation: [silvany epifanjo ɔlɛ̃pjo]; 6 September 1902 – 13 January 1963) was a Togolese politician who served as prime minister, and then president, of Togo from 1958 until his assassination in 1963. He came from the important Olympio family, which included his uncle Octaviano Olympio, one of the richest people in Togo in the early 1900s.
After graduating from the London School of Economics, he worked for Unilever and became the general manager of the African operations of that company. After World War II, Olympio became prominent in efforts for independence of Togo and his party won the 1958 election, making him the prime minister of the country. His power was further cemented when Togo achieved independence and he won the 1961 election, making him the first president of Togo. He was assassinated during the 1963 Togolese coup d’état.
#25. Gabriel Léon M’ba
Gabriel Léon M’ba (9 February 1902 – 28 November 1967) was a Gabonese politician who served as both the first Prime Minister (1959–1961) and President (1961–1967) of Gabon.
A member of the Fang ethnic group, M’ba was born into a relatively privileged village family. After studying at a seminary, he held a number of small jobs before entering the colonial administration as a customs agent. His political activism in favor of black people worried the French administration, and as a punishment for his activities, he was issued a prison sentence after committing a minor crime that normally would have resulted in a small fine. In 1924, the administration gave M’ba a second chance and selected him to head the canton in Estuaire Province. After being accused of complicity in the murder of a woman near Libreville, he was sentenced in 1931 to three years in prison and 10 years in exile. While in exile in Oubangui-Chari, he published works documenting the tribal customary law of the Fang people. He was employed by local administrators, and received praise from his superiors for his work. He remained a persona non grata to Gabon until the French colonial administration finally allowed M’ba to return his native country in 1946.
#26. Hastings Kamuzu Banda
Hastings Kamuzu Banda (c. 1898 or 1906/1907 – 25 November 1997) was the prime minister and later president of Malawi from 1964 to 1994 (for the first year of his rule as it achieved independence in 1964, Malawi was the British protectorate of Nyasaland). In 1966, the country became a republic and he became president. His rule has been characterized as a “highly repressive autocracy.”
After receiving much of his education in ethnography, linguistics, history, and medicine overseas, Banda returned to Nyasaland to speak against colonialism and advocate independence from the United Kingdom. He was formally appointed Prime Minister of Nyasaland, and led the country to independence in 1964. Two years later, he proclaimed Malawi a republic with himself as president. He consolidated power and later declared Malawi a one-party state under the Malawi Congress Party (MCP). In 1970, the MCP made him the party’s President for Life. In 1971, he became President for Life of Malawi itself.
A renowned anti-communist leader in Africa, he received support from the Western Bloc during the Cold War. He generally supported women’s rights, improved the country’s infrastructure and maintained a good educational system relative to other African countries. However, he presided over one of the most repressive regimes in Africa, an era that saw political opponents regularly tortured and murdered. Human rights groups estimate that at least 6,000 people were killed, tortured and jailed without trial. As many as 18,000 people were killed during his rule, according to one estimate. He received criticism for maintaining full diplomatic relations with the apartheid government in South Africa.
#27. Sir Milton Augustus Strieby Margai
Sir Milton Augustus Strieby MargaiPC (7 December 1895 – 28 April 1964) was a Sierra Leonean medical doctor and politician who served as the country’s head of government from 1954 until his death in 1964. He was titled chief minister from 1954 to 1960, and then prime minister from 1961 onwards.
Margai studied medicine in England, and upon returning to homeland became a prominent public health campaigner. He entered politics as the founder and inaugural leader of the Sierra Leone People’s Party. Margai oversaw Sierra Leone’s transition to independence, which occurred in 1961. He died in office aged 68, and was succeeded as prime minister by his brother Albert. Margai enjoyed the support of Sierra Leoneans across classes, who respected his moderate style, friendly demeanor, and political savvy
#28. Jomo Kenyatta
Jomo Kenyatta (c. 1897 – 22 August 1978) was a Kenyan anti-colonial activist and politician who governed Kenya as its Prime Minister from 1963 to 1964 and then as its first President from 1964 to his death in 1978. He was the country’s first indigenous head of government and played a significant role in the transformation of Kenya from a colony of the British Empire into an independent republic. Ideologically an African nationalist and conservative, he led the Kenya African National Union (KANU) party from 1961 until his death.
Kenyatta was born to Kikuyu farmers in Kiambu, British East Africa. Educated at a mission school, he worked in various jobs before becoming politically engaged through the Kikuyu Central Association. In 1929, he travelled to London to lobby for Kikuyu land affairs. During the 1930s, he studied at Moscow’s Communist University of the Toilers of the East, University College London, and the London School of Economics. In 1938, he published an anthropological study of Kikuyu life before working as a farm labourer in Sussex during the Second World War. Influenced by his friend George Padmore, he embraced anti-colonialist and Pan-African ideas, co-organising the 1945 Pan-African Congress in Manchester. He returned to Kenya in 1946 and became a school principal. In 1947, he was elected President of the Kenya African Union, through which he lobbied for independence from British colonial rule, attracting widespread indigenous support but animosity from white settlers. In 1952, he was among the Kapenguria Six arrested and charged with masterminding the anti-colonial Mau Mau Uprising. Although protesting his innocence—a view shared by later historians—he was convicted. He remained imprisoned at Lokitaung until 1959 and was then exiled to Lodwar until 1961.
Under Kenyatta, Kenya joined the Organisation of African Unity and the Commonwealth of Nations, espousing a pro-Western and anti-communist foreign policy amid the Cold War. Kenyatta died in office and was succeeded by Daniel arap Moi.
Kenyatta was a controversial figure. Prior to Kenyan independence, many of its white settlers regarded him as an agitator and malcontent, although across Africa he gained widespread respect as an anti-colonialist. During his presidency, he was given the honorary title of Mzee and lauded as the Father of the Nation, securing support from both the black majority and the white minority with his message of reconciliation. Conversely, his rule was criticised as dictatorial, authoritarian, and neo-colonial, of favouring Kikuyu over other ethnic groups, and of facilitating the growth of widespread corruption.
Joseph Kasa-Vubu was born in the village of Kuma-Dizi in the Mayombe district of the Belgian Congo. Different sources list his year of birth as 1910, 1913, 1915, or 1917, though 1915 is the most probable date. He was the eighth of nine children in a family of the Yombe ethnic group, a subset of the Kongo people. His father was a successful farmer who, as an independent entrepreneur, traded with street merchants in Cabinda and built his house at the outskirts of the village. This earned him the animosity of the villagers and in an attempt to assuage their hostility he volunteered to undergo a “poison test” with a substance extracted from a kasa tree. The word “Kasa” was appended onto his name in commemoration of the event. Kasa-Vubu’s mother died four years after his birth, and his father died in 1936. On 31 January 1925 he was baptised under the Christian name of Joseph at the Scheutist Catholic mission of Kizu, near Tshela
#30. Coutoucou Hubert Maga
Coutoucou Hubert Maga (August 10, 1916 – May 8, 2000) was a politician from Dahomey (now known as Benin). He arose on a political scene where one’s power was dictated by what region in Dahomey one lived in. Born a peasant in 1916, Maga served as a schoolmaster from 1936 to 1945, during which time he gradually gained considerable influence among the uneducated. He was elected to Dahomey’s territorial assembly in 1947 and founded the Northern Ethnical Group, later renamed the Dahomey Democratic Rally (Rassemblement Démocratique du Dahomé).
In 1951, Maga was elected to the French National Assembly, where he served in various positions, including premier from 1959 to 1960. When Dahomey gained its independence from France on August 1, 1960, Maga was appointed to the presidency, and was officially elected to that post on December 11.
#31. General Ibrahim Abboud
General Ibrahim Abboud (Arabic: إبراهيم عبود; 26 October 1900, in Suakin – 8 September 1983, in Khartoum) was a Sudanese political figure who served as the head of state of Sudan between 1958 and 1964 and as president of Sudan in 1964; however, he soon resigned, ending Sudan’s first period of military rule. A career soldier, Abboud served in World War II in Egypt and Iraq. In 1949, Abboud became the deputy Commander in Chief of the Sudanese military. Upon independence, Abboud became the Commander in Chief of the Military of Sudan.
Ibrahim Abboud was born 26 October 1900 in Mohammed-Gol, near the old port city of Suakin on the Red Sea. He trained as an engineer at the Gordon Memorial College and at the Military College in Khartoum. He received a commission in the Egyptian Army in 1918 and transferred to the Sudan Defence Force in 1925, after its creation separate from the Egyptian army. During World War II he served in Eritrea, in Ethiopia, with the Sudan Defence Force, and with the British army in North Africa. After the war, Abboud commanded the Camel Corps, and then rose rapidly to commander of the Sudan Defence Force in 1949 and assistant commander in chief in 1954. With the declaration of independence for the Sudan in 1956, he was made commander in chief of the Sudanese military forces. After the Sudanese army staged a coup d’état in November 1958, overthrowing the civilian government of Abdullah Khalil, Gen. Abboud led the new military government. Philip Agee alleged that CIA engineered the 1958 coup in In the Company.
#32. François Tombalbaye
François Tombalbaye (Arabic: فرنسوا تومبالبايFranswā Tūmbālbāy; 15 June 1918 – 13 April 1975), also known as N’Garta Tombalbaye, was a Chadian teacher and a trade union activist who served as the first President of Chad. The head of Chad’s colonial government and its ruling party, the Chadian Progressive Party, after 1959, Tombalbaye was appointed the nation’s head of government after its independence on 11 August 1960. He ruled as a dictator until his deposition and assassination by members of the Chadian military in 1975.
Tombalbaye was born on 15 June 1918 in the village of Bessada, Moyen-Chari (prefecture) in the southern region of the French colony of Chad, close to the city of Koumra. His father was a prominent trader and he was of the Sara ethnic group, the prominent ethnicity of Chad’s five southern prefectures. He attended a primary school, run by Protestant missionaries, in Sarh, and secondary school in Brazzaville. As a young man, Tombalbaye studied to become an educator in the Republic of Congo’s capital of Brazzaville, due to the lack of in-country schools. During World War II, Tombalbaye fought for Free France against the Nazi-backed Vichy regime.
Here is a List of Pan-Africanists that have stood for the liberation of the African Race
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