Top 10 Books About African Leaders
Africa’s colonial history is a fascinating topic as it largely shapes African countries into what we see today.
Colonialism and independence struggles produced a crop of revered African leaders who are fondly called founding fathers.
While virtually all of them have their lives recorded, a few of them had extraordinary accomplishments.
The top 10 Books contain the most remarkable stories and adventures of African leaders.
1. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
- Long Walk to Freedom is an autobiography that was written by a ghostwriter and credited to Nelson Mandela.
- Richard Stengel wrote the book assuming the late Mandela’s voice.
- Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is the most decorated African leader with global admiration.
- He was at one time the most respected prisoner in the world while serving a prison sentence under the infamous apartheid regime in South Africa.
- His Robben Island prison cell is a sanctuary of freedom that attracts numerous visitors.
- The iconic autobiography most importantly tells the story of his 27 years of life in prison.
- It traces his beginnings, education, and how Mandela ended up behind bars for his spirited fight against apartheid in South Africa.
- The Long Walk to Freedom was first published in 1994, a year in which Mandela ascended to the presidency of South Africa.
Also read: List of Top Pan-African Leaders And Their Contributions
2. Thomas Sankara Speaks
- Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara is one of the most celebrated African leaders.
- Sankara was the first president of Burkina Faso from 1983 up to 1987 when he was assassinated in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
- Fondly referred to as the African Che Guevara, Sankara shares his experiences during his leadership in Burkina Faso.
- “Thomas Sankara Speaks” details how Sankara tackled economic devastation, hunger, and illiteracy in a spectacular fashion.
- He rallied the young nation towards self-reliance and economic prosperity, which the Burkinabe idolized him for.
3. Ghana: The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah
- Kwame Nkrumah is one of the most famous African men and was the first president of Ghana.
- As an astute and visionary leader, Nkrumah is also a well-published leader.
- His Book “Ghana: The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah” was first published in 1957 when Ghana became among the first African independent nations.
- Kwame is widely respected in Africa because he immediately launched a continent-wide independence campaign.
- His call for Africans to unite and his efforts in founding the AU cemented his position as a top African statesman.
4. Black Consciousness in South Africa by Steve Biko
- Steve Bantu Biko was in his prime the most important black leader in South Africa.
- He launched a Black Consciousness Movement to liberate the African mindset and help black people appreciate their culture.
- Biko believed that liberating the minds of black people was an important step toward political independence.
- The major highlight of the book is a testimony he gave on behalf of nine blacks who were arrested in South Africa and charged with terrorism.
- Biko’s courageous testimony explored almost every issue in contemporary South Africa at the time.
5. Robert Mugabe: A Life of Power and Violence
- This is a book written by a Robert Mugabe chronicler who followed his life in the struggle for independence in Zimbabwe.
- Author Stephen Chan also served as one of the advisers in the first government of independent Zimbabwe.
- Chan tells the story of the once charismatic freedom fighter who turned into a petty dictator.
6. Unity and Struggle by Amilcar Cabral
- Amilcar Cabral was a revolutionary leader from Guinea Bissau who rallied for the Portuguese-dominated countries in Africa.
- His efforts were felt in countries like Mozambique, Cape Verde, Angola, and Sao Tome.
- “Unity and Struggle” is a book that binds together Amilcar Cabral’s speeches and writings.
- Going through “Unity and Struggle” you get an account of how Cabral assembled a victorious movement for revolutionary change.
- By the time he died, Cabral had defeated the Portuguese colonialists.
7. Suffering Without Bitterness: The Founding of the Kenya Nation by Jomo Kenyatta
- Jomo Kenyatta was the founding father and first leader of Kenya.
- Kenyatta is among the most respected African leaders following his Pan-African efforts in uniting the continent.
- The book details his story from his first involvement in the nationalist movement and independence struggle.
- It recounts his dramatic arrest on the orders of the then Kenyan colonial Governor Sir Evelyn Baring.
- His long imprisonment and final emergence from detention to lead Kenya triumphantly to Independence are all captured in the Book.
8. This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa’s First Woman President
- This book was written by former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
- She was elected Liberia president in 2006 after the country had suffered 14 years of civil war and dismantled democracy.
- Her election marked a tremendous turning point in the history of the West African nation following years of unrest.
- The Book chronicles Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s journey to the presidency including her childhood and early experiences of abuse.
9. Julius K. Nyerere: Teacher of Africa
- This is a Biography of Tanzania’s first president Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.
- Nyerere is fondly remembered for his socialist ideals for which he coined the term Ujamaa.
- Ujamaa is best known as an ideology that made local production a collective affair within Tanzania’s villages.
- His legacy, therefore, became a united country with highly patriotic and close-knit Tanzanians.
Also read: List of Kenya’s First Cabinet Ministers
10. Unbowed: A Memoir By Wangari Maathai
- Wangari Maathai is one of the most decorated African women and a strong leader.
- Her most prominent accomplishment was a Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy, and peace.
- Maathai’s environmental conservation efforts won her global accolades and equally got her into bruising battles, especially with Kenyan authorities.
- In her memoir, she narrates her extraordinary journey from her childhood in rural Kenya to the world stage.