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Afristoricals helps you to discover the fascinating facts shrouded in the mysticism of African History. Significant facts and achievements are highlighted to promote self-belief, ingenuity and achievement within the African community as a whole.

 

Here you will find a list of African Achievers who have made a positive contribution to the world. This list is not exhaustive, but gives you a small taste of the amazing African Achievers.

 

Connect with African Achievers by downloading UmojApp you can earn points and receive regular updates on Black Achievement and keep informed with the most up to date information on African Achievers.

 

Andrew Watson

First African International Footballer

Andrew Watson, the first black International football player, was born in British Guiana in 1857.  He was capped three times for Scotland between 1881 and 1882 and was captain of the 1881 Scottish team against England.  He also went on to become the world's first black footballing administrator.

 

Angela Davis

African Activist & Teacher

Angela Davis is an activist, scholar and writer who advocates for the oppressed. She joined the U.S. Communist Party and was jailed for charges related to a prison outbreak, though ultimately cleared. Known for books like Women, Race & Class, she has worked as a professor and activist who advocates gender equity, prison reform and alliances across colour lines.

 

Askia Daud

African Author

Senegalese-born author, Aminata Sow Fall, is one of the earliest and best-known African woman writers.  In 1997, she was awarded an honorary degree by Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts.

 

Ausar (Osiris)

Ancient Kmt (African) God

The god Ausar (Osiris) was the central deity in Ancient Kemet (Egyptian) mortuary rituals. In Kemetian mythology he is ruler of the Underworld and associated with resurrection. Ausar is also associated with agricultural renewal. 

 

Benjamin Bennaker

African Scientist & Inventor

Benjamin Banneker made astronomical calculations that enabled him to successfully forecast a 1789 solar eclipse. His estimate made well in advance of the celestial event, contradicted predictions of better-known mathematicians and astronomers. He built the first watch made in America, sent a copy of his first almanac to Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson on 19 August 1791. In an enclosed letter Banneker urged Jefferson to help get rid of "absurd and false ideals" that one race is superior to another. Jefferson responded with praise for Banneker's accomplishments.

 

Bernie Grant

First African Labour MP & Activist

Bernard Alexander Montgomery Grant, known simply as Bernie Grant, was the first Black British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament for Tottenham from 1987 until his death in 2000. Bernie Grant was born on 1 January 1944.

 

Bessie Blount

African Inventor

Bessie Blount was a physical therapist who worked with soldiers injured in World War II. Blount's war service inspired her to patent a device in 1951 that allowed amputees to feed themselves. She later invented a portable receptacle support that was simpler and smaller version of the same.

 

Bob Marley

African Musician

Bob Marley, the reggae legend who worked tirelessly in spreading reggae music and the message of Rastafari to the world, died on 11 May 1981.

Chancellor Williams

African Scholar & Writer

Chancellor James Williams, the writer, university professor and historian was the author of "The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race Between 4500 B.C. and 2000 A.D." The book has become a cornerstone of the field of academics known as Afrocentrism Chancellor Williams was born on 22 December 1898.

 

Cheikh Anta Diop

African Scientist & Scholar

Professor Cheikh Anta Diop was a Senegalese historian, anthropologist, physicist and politician who studied the human race's origins and pre-colonial African culture. He is considered one of the greatest African historians of the 20th century. His works include titles like "The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality," "Civilization or Barbarism: An Authentic Anthropology," "Precolonial Black Africa" and "Black Africa: The Economic and Cultural Basis for a Federated State." Professor Cheikh Anta Diop was born on 29 December 1923.

 

Chinua Achebe

African Author

Chinua Achebe, prominent Igbo writer, famous for his novels describing the effects of Western customs and values on traditional African society.

 

Claudette Colvin

African Activist

On March 2, 1955, a full nine months before Rosa Parks’ famous arrest, Claudette Colvin was dragged from a Montgomery bus by two police officers, arrested and taken to an adult jail to be booked. She was only 15 years old and was the first person to be arrested for defying bus segregation in Montgomery. Her arrest and her story has long since been forgotten, but it provided the spark for the Black community in Montgomery that ultimately led to Parks’ actions, the bus boycott, and the Supreme Court ruling to end segregation on buses.

Dahia al-Kahina

African King

Dahia al-Kahina of Mauritania ruled from 688-705 AD and defended North Africa against white Arab invasion in 639 AD. The original Arabs (Africans) seized Egypt, Cyrenaica, Tripoli and pushed on to Carthage and Numidia, sweeping away 600 years of Roman occupation. The Spanish conquest was achieved with white Arab help, but they turned on the original Arabs (Africans) and seized Carthage in 698 AD. Many Africans were enslaved and others to fled further south to evade their clutches. Dahia defeated the white Arabs and instituted a scorched earth policy to prevent them from being able to find crops to feed on in the region. That desolation can be seen even today in southern Tunisia. Eventually, however, the white Arabs returned, Dahia was finally defeated in battle in 705 AD and North Africa was overrun. Today Black people are a minority in North Africa. 

 

Dani Kouyaté

African Griot & Film Director

Dani Kouyaté is a film director and griot from Burkina Faso. The BBC described him as "Africa's most important film-making country". Dani Kouyaté was born on 4 June 1961.

 

Daniel Hale Williams

African Medical Inventor

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams performed the first internal operation when he saved a young Black man named James Cornish who was stabbed in the chest with a knife on 9 July 1893. Dr. Williams performed open heart surgey on Cornish and 51 days later Cornish walked out of the Provident Hospital completely recovered and lived for further 50 years. Local newspapers spread the word of this achievement and Williams received the acclaim he deserved. He died in July 1931, having set standards and examples for surgeons, both Black and White, for years to come.

 

Efunroye Tinubu

African Leader

Madam Tinubu was born around 1805 in the Yoruba town of Abeokuta, in what is now known as Nigeria. She was a major political and business player, who campaigned against the influence of the British Empire over her people and for the elimination of slavery. She became the first Iyalode (queen of ladies) of the Egba clan because of her political significance as a powerful female aristocrat in West Africa. After Tinubu, a former slave trader herself, realized the treatment of Africans enslaved in Europe and the Americas was far more inhumane than the way slavery was practiced in Africa, she became a scathing opponent of all forms of slavery and used her influence to try to eliminate the practice in her region.

Elijah McCoy

African Inventor

Elijah McCoy's inventions (specifically lubricators for steam engines) created a level of distinction which bears his name. Machinists and engineers who wanted genuine McCoy lubricators may have originated the term, "the real McCoy".

 

Fela Kuti

African Musician & Freedom Fighter

Fela Anikulapo Kuti is a singer-composer, bandleader, trumpet, saxophone, keyboard player, politician and one of Africa's most revered names.

 

Frederick Douglass

African Leader and Inventor

Frederick Douglass, one of the foremost leaders of the abolitionist movement, which fought to end slavery within the United States in the decades prior to the Civil War, was born Frederick Baily in Easton on Maryland's Eastern Shore in 1818.

 

Garret Morgan

African Inventor

Garrett Morgan, inventor of the gas mask and traffic signal, was born in Paris, Kentucky in 1877. Garrett Morgan made national news for using his gas mask invention to rescue 32 men trapped during an explosion in an underground tunnel 250 feet beneath Lake Erie in 1916.

 

George of Lydda

African Christian Saint

George of Lydda was executed in 303 AD, under the Roman Emperor Diocletian at Nicomedia (present-day Palestine) for protesting against the Emperor's persecution of Christians. He was born in Turkey of black Palestinian parentage, and is one of the most famous of Christian figures known as St George the Patron Saint of England.

 

George Washington Carver

African Inventor

George Washington Carver, agricultural chemist who developed crop-rotation methods for conserving nutrients in soil and discovered hundreds of new uses for crops such as the peanut, which created peanut butter, was born in 1860.

 

Haile Selassie I

African Leader

Emperor Haile Selassie I, born Tafari Makonnen, the son of a noted general and the grandnephew of Emperor Menelik II, and the last emperor in the 3,000-year-old Ethiopian monarchy, died in 1975. He was Ethiopia's regent from 1916 to 1930 and Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974, and successfully defeated the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in World War II.

 

Hannibal Barca

African Father of Modern Military

Hannibal Barca of Carthage was, perhaps, the best known personality in Carthaginian history. He was a Carthaginian general and father of modern military strategy. He lived during 247-183 BC and seized Saguntum in Spain in 219 BC. 

 

Harriet Tubman

African Activist

Harriet Tubman was born in Maryland in 1820. She was a leading abolitionist and led hundreds of enslaved people to freedom along the route of the Underground Railroad in 1849. She returned many times to rescue both family members and non-relatives from the plantation system. She led hundreds to freedom in the North as the most famous "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, an elaborate secret network of safe houses organized for that purpose. Harriet Tubman remains an inspiration to all who value freedom.

Henry Cele

African Actor

Henry Cele, the South African actor made famous for his portrayal of Shaka Zulu was born in Durban, South Africa. He landed the role of Shaka Zulu after playing Shaka in a South African stage production of Shaka Zulu. 

 

Ignatius Sancho

African Classical Musician

Ignatius Sancho was born in 1729, on board a ship in the Slave-trade, he composed music, appeared on stage and entertaine many famous figures of literary and artistic London. Ignatius was the first African we know of to vote in a British election.

 

Imhotep

African Pyramid Builder & First Multigenius of the World

Imhotep was the first great multi-genius in history, flourishing around 5000 BC. Imhotep was a Negro Third Dynasty Prime Minister for Pharaoh Djoser andt he was also an astronomer, physician, poet, philosopher and Chief Lector Priest of Heliopolis. 

 

Ira Aldridge

African Actor

Ira Aldridge, the famous 19th century black Shakespearean actor's youngest daughter, Amanda, gave elocution lessons to the young Paul Robeson in 1930, when he was preparing for his first appearance as Othello in London. Between 1861-1866, Ira Aldridge embarked on a lengthy tour, visiting many places no foreign actor had ever been. He died on tour, in the Polish town of Lodz in 1867, aged 59.

 

Ivan Van Sertima

African Literary Critic, Linguist & Anthropologist

Ivan Van Sertima was born in 1935 in Guyana, South America. He is best known for his book, They Came Before Columbus, which proved the African origins of the Olmec civilization. He is a literary critic, a linguist, an anthropologist and has made a name in all three fields. He is also the author of several major literary reviews published in Denmark, India, Britain and the United States. He was honoured for his work in this field by being asked by the Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy to nominate candidates for the Nobel Prize in Literature from 1976-1980.  He has also been honoured as an historian of world repute by being asked to join UNESCO's International Commission for Rewriting the Scientific and Cultural History of Mankind.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee

African Sports Legend

Jackie Joyner-Kersee is a ranked among the all-time greatest athletes in the women's heptathlon, as well as in the women's long jump. She won three gold, one silver and two bronze Olympic medals, in those events. 

 

Jaja of Opobo

African Leader

King Jaja of Opobo was born in Umuduruoha, Igboland, Nigeria in 1821. He was sold as a slave at the age of 12 and was later sold to the Opubo Annie Pepple Royal House. It was there that Jaja earned his way out of servitude and established himself as head of the Anna Pepple House. Jaja blocked access of British merchants to the interior and shipped palm oil directly to Liverpool. Jaja was one of the most powerful men in the eastern Niger Delta. 

 

John Henrik Clarke

African History Scholar

John Henrik Clarke (born John Henry Clark), was a Pan-Africanist American-African writer, historian, professor, and a pioneer in the creation of Africana studies and professional institutions in academia starting in the late 1960s.

 

Kwame Nkrumah

African Leader

Kwame Nkrumah, was an influential 20th century advocate of Pan-Africanism. He founded the West African National Secretariat to work for the decolonization of Africa and was the motivating force behind the movement for independence of Ghana. Nkrumah was the leader of Ghana and its predecessor state, the Gold Coast, from 1952 to 1966. 

 

Leonard Bailey

African Inventor

African American, Leonard Bailey was an African American business owner and inventor who patented his invention of the folding bed. Although he was born into poverty, Bailey found work as a barber, building up a string of barber shops in Washington D. C. He invented and received patents for a series of inventions, including a folding bed, a rapid mail-stamping machine, a device to shunt trains to different tracks and a hernia truss adopted into wide use by the U. S. Military. He helped establish the Capital Savings Bank of Washington D.C., which is one of the first African-American owned banks in the U.S. and maintained its solvency during the Panic of 1893.

Lucky Dube

African Musician

Lucky Dube, the South African born, globally revered reggae musician, was born in August 1964. He recorded 22 albums in Zulu, English and Afrikaans in a 25-year period and was South Africa's biggest selling reggae artist. His life was tragically cut short when he was murdered in the Johannesburg suburb of Rosettenville in 2007.

 

Malcolm X

African Political Leader

Malcolm X, the  African-American Muslim minister, public speaker, and human rights activist, was assassinated as he began speaking at the Audubon Ballroom, New York in 1965.

 

Mansa Musa I

African Emperor

Mansa Musa I ascended the throne of Mali in 1312 AD. He ruled from 1312-1337 AD and was the richest ruler of the 14th century world. 

 

Marcus Garvey

African Political Leader

Dr. Marcus Mosiah Garvey subsumed his life to the Redemption of Africa and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), which represents the largest mass movement in African-American history. Garvey and the UNIA established 700 branches in thirty-eight states by the early 1920s.

 

Maya Angelou

African Author

Dr. Maya Angelou is the celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker and civil rights activist. Angelou was born in 1928 and is one of the most honored writers of her generation. Her honors include a National Book Award nomination for "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings", a Pulitzer Prize nomination for her book of poetry, "Just Give Me A Cool Drink of Water Fore 1 Dime", a Tony Award nomination for her role in the 1973 play "Look Away", and three Grammys for her spoken word albums. Angelou has been awarded over thirty honorary degrees.

 

Muhammad Ali

African Sports Legend

Muhammad Ali, one of the most recognised of all world figures and the only man to ever win the heavyweight crown three times.

 

Muraina Oyelami

African Artist & Author

Muraina Oyelami, the master painter, author and great performing artist was born Iragbiji, Nigeria in 1940. Muraina began his career in arts in 1964 as one of the original members and the first generation of the famous Osogbo Art School. He was also a founding member of the late Duro Ladipo Theatre Company. Oyelami has written books on Bata and Dundun (talking) drums and on Yoruba culture. 

 

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

African Leader

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the anti-apartheid activist and the leader of the African National Congress's armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwethe, was born in a village near Umtata in the Transkei in 1918. He is the former President of South Africa and the first to be elected in a fully representative democratic election.

 

Nwankwo Foluwashola Kanu

African Sporting Legend

Nwankwo Foluwashola Kanu was born in 1976 in Owerri, Nigeria. Known as Kanu and nicknamed Papilo, Kanu played as a striker for the Nigerian national team and for various international clubs. Kanu is the most highly-decorated African footballer in footballing history, having won a UEFA Champions League medal, a UEFA Cup medal, three FA Cup Winners Medals and two African Player of the Year awards amongst others.

 

Olaudah Equiano

African Leader

Olaudah Equiano, the first political leader of Britain's black community was born in Essaka, an Igbo villiage in the kingdom of Benin, in 1745. His father was one of the province's elders who decided disputes. Equiano was kidnapped at the age of eleven, along with his sister and sold to slave-traders. 

 

Patrice Emergy Lumumba

African Leader

Patrice Emery Lumumba the African nationalist leader and first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (June-September 1960) was born in 1925.  Daphne Park was the MI6 officer in the Congo, who admitted to Lord Lea that Britain had been involved in the death of Lumumba in 1961.

 

Paul Bogle

African Revolutionary

Paul Bogle was a Baptist Deacon and a Jamaican National Hero who lived from 1820-1865. He was a leader of the 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion and was captured and executed in 1865 by the United Kingdom, when Jamaica was a British colony. He was named a National Hero of Jamaica with the title Rt. Excellent Paul Bogle. He is depicted on the heads side of the Jamaican 10 cent coin and two dollar note, and the Paul Bogle High School in the parish of his birth is named after him.

 

Pele

African Sports Legend

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pele, is a retired Brazilian professional footballer who is widely regarded to be the greatest player of all time.

 

Pharaoh (Queen) Hatshepsut

African Empress

Pharaoh Hatshepsut of Kemet (Egypt) ruled between 1650-1600 BC. She was one of the most powerful women in history. Hatshepsut was the next great woman of the African Eighteenth Egyptian Dynasty, after Ahmose-Nefertari. In 1615 BC she took the religious titles the "female Horus" and the "daughter of Ra". At Karnak she erected two giant obelisks that rose to almost 100 feet and had their tops encased in electrum, a metal costlier than gold. In Deir-el-Bahri, she built her celebrated rock-hewn temple dedicated to Amen, Anubis and Hathor. In this temple are records of her famous maritime voyage to Punt (i.e. Somalia). On the cultural front, great lyric poetry was composed during her period.

 

Pharaoh Mena

African Emperor

Pharaoh Mena of Ancient Kemet (Egypt) ruled between 5660-5998 BC and was the first King of the First Dynasty of Ancient Kemet. The first pharaoh of a unified Kemet was Mena from the Southern Kemetian city of Thinis. After conquering Northern Kemet, he is thought to have reigned for 62 years and he started the first golden age in the land - the Old Kingdom Period. Egypt, during this age, was a Negro society and there are portraits of the king with very handsome African features.

 

Philip Emeagwali

African Inventor

Philip Emeagwali walked the line between the supercomputer and the Internet and helped reinvent supercomputing. Emeagwali was born in a remote West African village in 1954 and was declared a child math prodigy.

 

Queen Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba

African Empress

Queen Nzinga Mbande was the 17th century queen of the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms (now named Angola) of the Mbundu people in southwestern Africa. Queen Nzinga successfully defeated the Portugese on a number of occasions and personally lead troops into battle.

 

Quobna Ottobah Cugoano

Political activist and abolitionist

Quobna Ottobah Cugoano, a political activist and abolitionist, was born in present-day Ghana about the year 1757. He was kidnapped and taken into slavery when he was about 13. Add Testimonial here

Rosa Parks

Political activist

On 1 December 1955, Rosa Parks, a 42-year-old African American woman who worked as a seamstress, boarded this Montgomery City bus to go home from work. On this bus on that day, Rosa Parks initiated a new era in the American quest for freedom and equality.Add Testimonial here

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Classcial music composer, conductor and teacher

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, was an English classical music composer of mixed European and African descent was born in 1875 in the London suburb of Croydon. Coleridge-Taylor’s epic choral trilogy, ‘The Song of Hiawatha’ him worldwide sensation overnight. Coleridge-Taylor left a large legacy and varied body of music, both vocal and instrumental.Add Testimonial here

Sepitmus Severus

African Roman Emperor

Septimus Severus, the African Ruler of Rome (193-211AD), became quaestor of Rome around 169 AD. He then became the tribune of plebs in 174 AD, and then praetor (early law professions) in 177 AD. In 205 AD, the Arch of Severus (the African Ruler of Rome (193-211AD) was built in Rome, Italy.

Shaka Zulu

Warrior King

During the reign of King Shaka (1816-1828), the Zulu became the mightiest miliatary force in southern Africa, increasing their land holdings from 100 square miles to 11,500.