How to Politic Like an African Woman

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at the 2007 World Economic Forum / Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons/


As we hold our hopes for “Michelle Obama 2020,” the African motherland celebrates a victory time-and-time again. Here are five African women political leaders that you should know:

1. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf/Antonio Cruz/Wikimedia/CC 3.0


2017 marked 12-years in office for Africa’s first female head of state: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Monrovia, Liberia.

Educated in African schools and later at the University of Colorado and Harvard University, Sirleaf would move from homemaker, to civil servant to the Minister of Finance and other positions before finally becoming president in 2005.

She is a staunch advocate of peace, reconciliation and social and economic development.

2. Joyce Banda

Joyce Banda/Chatham House/Wikimedia/CC 2.0


As Malwai’s first female president (and the second one of the continent), Joyce Banda is also the founder and leader of the People’s Party.

She is best known for selling off a “$15 million presidential jet, cutting her own salary by 30 percent and dismissing her cabinet in the midst of corruption allegations.”

3. Catherine Samba-Panza

Catherine Samba-Panza/US Dept of State/Wikimedia/Public Domain


As interim president of the Central African Republic from 2014 to 2016, Samba-Panza transitioned from serving as the mayor of capital Bangui before assuming office.

An attorney, Samba-Panza assumed office given her neutrality in a growing war on religion and the community’s hopes of settlement and negotiation. Upon assuming office she became the third woman elected head of state in Africa.

4. Lindiwe Mazibuko

Lindiwe Mazibuko/Democratic Alliance/Wikimedia/CC 2.0


One of Africa’s youngest political leaders, Lindiwe Mazibuko of South Africa completed graduate school and began her civic career as a researcher as part of the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Parliamentary operation.

In 2011, she was elected the new DA parliamentary leader - the first non-white person to lead the party in parliament.

5. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala/World Economic Forum/Wikimedia/CC 2.0


As the Minister of Finance in Nigeria, Okonjo-Iweala has led the country towards economic growth. Before assuming her esteemed position, Okonjo-Iweala graduated from both Harvard and MIT and spent 21 years as a development economist at the World Bank.

We have a quick favor to ask:

PushBlack is a nonprofit dedicated to raising up Black voices. We are a small team but we have an outsized impact:

  • We reach tens of millions of people with our BLACK HISTORY STORIES every year.
  • We fight for CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM to protect our community.
  • We run VOTING CAMPAIGNS that reach over 10 million African-Americans across the country.

And as a nonprofit, we rely on small donations from subscribers like you.

With as little as $5 a month, you can help PushBlack raise up Black voices. It only takes a minute, so will you please donate now?

Donate Now

Share This Article: