Africa is a fascinating continent. There are interesting stories behind the formation and existence of the people from Africa. It’s only in Africa where you can find tribes that keep their traditions and cultures and have not bowed to modernization.
Africa has 3,000 tribes and around 1000 to 2000 languages. The most iconic and recognizable tribes in Africa are the Zulu of South Africa, Karo in Ethiopia, the Himba in Namibia, the Maasai in Kenya and Tanzania, the Yoruba in Nigeria, and the Dogon in Mali, the Wodaabe in Niger and Chad.
Here are the most famous Africans and the tribes that they belong to:
- Nelson Mandela – Thembu tribe
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was a famous anti-apartheid activist who was born in Mvezo village Eastern Cape, South Africa on July 18, 1918. He hails from the Thembu Tribe, which is located in the upper part of the Mzimvubu River.
Nelson was the first black to become president in South Africa in a completely democratic election. He served for 5 years from 1994 to 1999 then he died on 5 December 2013.
- Kofi Annan – Asante & Fante
Kofi Atta Annan was born on April 8, 1938 in Kumasi, Ghana. He comes from the Asante and Fante Tribe which is located in the South-central part of Ghana around the areas of Togo and Cote d’Ivoire.
Kofi Annan was a diplomat from Ghana who was the Secretary–General of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006. He received the Peace Nobel Prize in 2001. He died on August 18, 2018.
- Eliud Kipchoge – Kalenjin
Born on November 5, 1984 in The Rift Valley part of Kenya, Eliud Kipchoge is a long-distance runner who won the Ineos challenge in 1:59. He became the first person in the world to finish the marathon in less than two hours.
Eliud Kipchoge comes from the Kalenjin tribe found in Nandi County, Eldoret – Kenya.
- Lupita Nyong’o – Luo
Lupita Amondi Nyong’o was born on March 1, 1983 in Mexico City but raised in Kenya. She is a famous actress and film producer. She comes from the Luo tribe, which is located in the western part of Kenya in Kisumu city along the shores of Lake Victoria.
Lupita came to the world limelight through the exceptional acting skills that made her win many awards. One of her films, 12 Years a Slave in 2013, won an Academy Award.
- Shaka Zulu – Zulu
Shaka Zulu (Sigidi kaSenzangakhona) was a powerful king who reigned from 1816 to 1828. He re-organized the military into an influential force through a series of far-reaching and significant changes.
He was born on February 18, 1787 in Melmot, KwaZulu-Natal South Africa. He comes from the Zulu tribe. He died on September 22, 1828.
- Haile Selassie – Amhara
Haile Selassie (Tafari Makonnen) was born on July 23, 1892 in Ejersa Goro -Harer, Ethiopia. He was the former Emperor of Ethiopia. He originated from one of the largest tribes in Ethiopia, the Amhara, which are found in Ethiopian Central highlands.
Haile Selassie was proudly known for helping his country to modernize by inaugurating the Organization of African Unity (currently known as the African Union) in the year 1963 whereby he made Addis Ababa the capital of the African Union.
- Wangari Maathai – Kikuyu
Wangari Maathai was born on April 1, 1940, in Ihithe Village, Tetu Division, Nyeri County. She comes from the Kikuyu tribe found in Central Kenya. She was the first woman in East and Central Africa to attain a PhD in Philosophy.
Wangari received international recognition for her tenacious fight for democracy, human rights, and environmental preservation. She established the Green Belt Movement, which focused on planting trees and conserving the environment, and fighting for the rights of women. She also won the Nobel Peace Prize.
- Chinua Achebe – Igbo
Chinua Chinualumongu Achebe was a novelist from Nigeria and a poet too. He was famous for his first novel, Things Fall Apart. His writing focused on the confusion that was brought by the influx of Western values that changed the habits of the African traditional society.
Chinua Achebe was born on November 16, 1930 in Ogidi, Nigeria. He came from the Igbo tribe that are found in south eastern Nigeria.
- Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu (Burna Boy)
Damini Ebunoluwa Ogula is a singer, songwriter, and rapper from Nigeria. He was born on July 2, 1991 in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. His tribe is not confirmed whether he is Yoruba or Igbo, although there are some speculations that he has some Yoruba ethnicity.
Burna Boy is one of the best and outstanding African artists. He came to international limelight because of his afro fusion music.
- Desmond Tutu – Xhosa & Tswana
Desmond Mpilo Tutu was born on October 7, 1931 in Klerksdorp, South Africa. He comes from the Xhosa and Twana Tribe which is located in the Eastern Cape province, South Africa.
Desmond Tutu was famous for being anti-apartheid and fighting for human rights. He was an Anglican Bishop and theologian from 1985 to 1986 and Archbishop from 1986 to 1996 in Johannesburg. He was the first African to hold the positions of bishop and archbishop. He died on December 26, 2021.
- Aliko Dangote – Hausa
Aliko Dangote is Africa’s richest man. He founded the multinational Dangote Company Limited in Nigeria. Aliko was born on April 10, 1957 in Kano, Nigeria. He comes from the Hausa tribe, which is located in northwestern Nigeria.
The Dangote Company Limited deals with manufacturing cement, milling and refining sugar, salt refining, port operations, and packaging material production. Dangote Cement, one of his companies, is among the largest cement-producing companies on the continent.
No doubt, Africa has the most famous people who rose beyond their tribal lines and made history in their various areas of specialization. They were rewarded for their hard work and determination. In addition, they were internationally recognized and honored. These great Africans are a testimony that you can make an impact despite your background.