Top 10 Books About African Leaders

"Thomas Sankara Speaks" details how Sankara tackled economic devastation, hunger, and illiteracy in a spectacular fashion.


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

    1. Long Walk to Freedom is an autobiography that was written by a ghostwriter and credited to Nelson Mandela.
    2. Richard Stengel wrote the book assuming the late Mandela’s voice.
    3. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is the most decorated African leader with global admiration.
    4. 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.
    5. His Robben Island prison cell is a sanctuary of freedom that attracts numerous visitors.
    6. The iconic autobiography most importantly tells the story of his 27 years of life in prison.
    7. It traces his beginnings, education, and how Mandela ended up behind bars for his spirited fight against apartheid in South Africa.
    8. 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 

    1. Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara is one of the most celebrated African leaders.
    2. Sankara was the first president of Burkina Faso from 1983 up to 1987 when he was assassinated in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
    3. Fondly referred to as the African Che Guevara, Sankara shares his experiences during his leadership in Burkina Faso.
    4. “Thomas Sankara Speaks” details how Sankara tackled economic devastation, hunger, and illiteracy in a spectacular fashion.
    5. He rallied the young nation towards self-reliance and economic prosperity, which the Burkinabe idolized him for.





3. Ghana: The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah

    1. Kwame Nkrumah is one of the most famous African men and was the first president of Ghana.
    2. As an astute and visionary leader, Nkrumah is also a well-published leader.
    3. His Book “Ghana: The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah” was first published in 1957 when Ghana became among the first African independent nations.
    4. Kwame is widely respected in Africa because he immediately launched a continent-wide independence campaign.
    5. 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

    1. Steve Bantu Biko was in his prime the most important black leader in South Africa.
    2. He launched a Black Consciousness Movement to liberate the African mindset and help black people appreciate their culture.
    3. Biko believed that liberating the minds of black people was an important step toward political independence.
    4. 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.
    5.  Biko’s courageous testimony explored almost every issue in contemporary South Africa at the time.



5. Robert Mugabe: A Life of Power and Violence

    1. This is a book written by a Robert Mugabe chronicler who followed his life in the struggle for independence in Zimbabwe.
    2. Author Stephen Chan also served as one of the advisers in the first government of independent Zimbabwe.
    3. Chan tells the story of the once charismatic freedom fighter who turned into a petty dictator.





6. Unity and Struggle by Amilcar Cabral

    1. Amilcar Cabral was a revolutionary leader from Guinea Bissau who rallied for the Portuguese-dominated countries in Africa.
    2. His efforts were felt in countries like Mozambique, Cape Verde, Angola, and Sao Tome.
    3. “Unity and Struggle” is a book that binds together Amilcar Cabral’s speeches and writings.
    4. Going through “Unity and Struggle” you get an account of how Cabral assembled a victorious movement for revolutionary change.
    5. By the time he died, Cabral had defeated the Portuguese colonialists.






7. Suffering Without Bitterness: The Founding of the Kenya Nation by Jomo Kenyatta

    1. Jomo Kenyatta was the founding father and first leader of Kenya.
    2. Kenyatta is among the most respected African leaders following his Pan-African efforts in uniting the continent.
    3. The book details his story from his first involvement in the nationalist movement and independence struggle.
    4. It recounts his dramatic arrest on the orders of the then Kenyan colonial Governor Sir Evelyn Baring.
    5. 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 GreatMemoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa’s First Woman President

    1. This book was written by former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
    2. She was elected Liberia president in 2006 after the country had suffered 14 years of civil war and dismantled democracy.
    3. Her election marked a tremendous turning point in the history of the West African nation following years of unrest.
    4. 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

    1. This is a Biography of Tanzania’s first president Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.
    2. Nyerere is fondly remembered for his socialist ideals for which he coined the term Ujamaa.
    3. Ujamaa is best known as an ideology that made local production a collective affair within Tanzania’s villages.
    4. 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

    1. Wangari Maathai is one of the most decorated African women and a strong leader.
    2. Her most prominent accomplishment was a Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy, and peace.
    3. Maathai’s environmental conservation efforts won her global accolades and equally got her into bruising battles, especially with Kenyan authorities.
    4. In her memoir, she narrates her extraordinary journey from her childhood in rural Kenya to the world stage.