sultans, chiefs, and emperors throughout the millennia. Leadership in Africa moved from great warrior kings to important political reformers and there are so many great stories to learn from them.
In no particular order, here are 5 of the most powerful African kings.
Undoubtedly the greatest monarch of the Central
African state of the Kanem-Bornu Dynasty, Idris
Alooma was Mai or King of the Kanem-Bornu Empire which was located mainly in present-day
Chad and Nigeria. An outstanding statesman, Kanem-Bornu reached the zenith of his power
under his rule. Alooma is remembered for his military skills, administrative reform, and Islamic
Mansa Musa was King of the Mali Kingdom between A.D 1306 and 1332 A.D. His real name is Musa Keita, but he adopted Mansa, which means ''King of Kings'' or 'Emperor.' He was the 10th emperor of this kingdom.
His leadership led the Mali kingdom to become one of the wealthiest empires in the world.
Menelik Il was the Emperor of Ethiopia from 1889 to his death in 1913. At the height of his
internal power and external prestige, the process of territorial expansion and creation of the
modern empire-state was completed by 1898. Menelik is also remembered for leading Ethiopian troops against the Kingdom of Italy in the First Italo-Ethiopian War, where Menelik scored a decisive victory at the Battle of Adwa.
Ethiopia was transformed under Emperor Menelik.
Shaka kaSenzangakhona was born into the small South African clan of the Zulus in 1787. His
father was the chief of the Zulus and his mother, Nandi, was the daughter of the chief of a
When Shaka was still a young boy, his father drove him and his mother out of the village and
soon became part of the clan of a powerful chief named Dingiswayo where Shaka trained as a
warrior. Shaka became a very strong, but brutal
leader. Anyone who disobeyed an order was immediately killed. He sometimes massacred a whole village in order to send a message.
He was however assassinated in 1828 and was buried in an unmarked grave.
Askia the Great
Askia Muhammad I who was born Muhammad Touré in Futa Tooro, was an emperor, military
commander, and political reformer of the Songhai Empire in the late 15th century. Askia the
Great was from the Soninke ethnic group.
Askia Muhammad strengthened his empire and made it the largest empire in West Africa's
He made policies which resulted in a rapid expansion of trade with Europe and Asia, the
creation of many schools, and the establishment of Islam as an integral part of the empire.
After his death in 1538, he was buried in present day Mail and his tomb ground has become one of the most respected mosque in Africa.