7 Underrated African Heroes You Should Know About

Here are some names that are often overlooked but where instrumental in the fight for the liberation of the African continent.

When thinking about Liberation movements or activists that have made a significant contribution in shaping African history, we often think (and rightly so) of names like Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba. Frequently, we overlook people that have greatly shaped the future and way of thinking of their country.


Chief among people that are forgotten are women. Women have played key roles organizing decolonization struggles throughout Africa but rarely get the same amount of praise as male leaders.

Below you will find a list of 7 Underrated African Heroes that are not always talked about but have left their mark in history.

Josina Muthemba Machel (1945-1971)

Muthemba was a key figure in the Mozambican struggle for independence. Born in a well-known nationalist family, she joined the struggle young, at first becoming active in clandestine student groups, before joining the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) in 1960. She was the driving force behind the Women's Detachment—a group of women that picked up arms to fight for their country's liberation. In 1969, at the age of 24, she married Samora Machel, the man who would become the first president of Mozambique.

Ahmed Sekou Touré (1922-1984)

Sekou Touré was the first president of Guinea. He is revered across French West Africa for being the first president to have dared to say 'No 'to France. In 1958 , French President Charles de Gaulles, under pressure to grant independence to French colonies, organized a constitutional referendum. African colonies, had the choice to approve the consitution and be granted gradual independence or become independent right away. Guinea is the only country that rejected the consitution and demanded its independence. In a famous speech, Touré said: “It is better to be poor and free, than to live in opulence and be a slave."

Photo by William Firaneck via. Wikimedia Commons

Yaa Asantewaa (1840-1921)

Yaa Asantewaa is often dubbed as the African Joan of Arc. She was a politician, war strategist, and political activist. In 1900, at a time when spirits where low, she led a rebellion against the British to defend the Golden Stool—the symbol of the Ashanti nation. The rebellion was eventually quelled by British forces who forced her into exile in the Seychelles, but she remained a symbol of courage and strength in the face of oppression.

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Sedick Isaacs

Issacs was one of the heroes of the anti-apartheid struggle. In 1964, he was found guilty of sabotage by the apartheid regime and was sentenced to 12-years in prison on Robbin Island. His sentence was increased a couple years late, when he was found operating a pirated radio— which helped keep prisoners informed of current events. While on Robben Island, Isaac was known for organizing sporting activities to keep the prisoners moral up. He was in fact one of the founders of the Makana Football Association.

Photo by BBC World Service via. Flickr

Es'kia Mphahlele (1919-2008)

Es'kia Mphahelele is a South African Writer and activist. He is best known for his memoir "Down Second Avenue" which tells of his childhood and early manhood during apartheid. He began his career teaching high school English and Afrikaans, but his career was shortened when he started protesting the Bantu Education Act. He left South Africa soon after and began teaching in Universities abroad. In 1977, he came back to South Africa and taught at Witwatersrand University, where he made history as the first black professor. While at Wits he taught African Literature and spearheaded a department devoted to it.

Funmilayo Ransome Kuti (1900-1978)

Kuti was one of the key figures in the fight against British colonialism in Nigeria. She was the founder of the Abeokuta Women's Union — which was instrument in protesting colonial taxation. As an activist Kuti fought tirelessly for women's right to political representation and to empower the most marginal segments of society.

Mariama Ba (1929-1981)

Mariama Ba is Senegalese writer and political activist. In her writing, she denounced the status of women in Senegalese society, violence against women, lack of opportunities for women and polygamy. She became a staunch advocate for changing laws and traditions that subjugate women.

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Image courtesy of Daily Paper.

Daily Paper Enlists Ghanaian Artist David Alabo For New Tarot Card Capsule Collection

The streetwear brand's new line of t-shirts feature striking, Afro-Surrealist designs by Ghanaian artist David Alabo.

Amsterdam-based, African-owned streetwear brand, Daily Paper has released a new limited edition capsule collection in collaboration with Ghanaian visual artist David Alabo.

The Tarot Card collection of high end t-shirts is part of the brand's Spring/Summer 2020 collection. Each t-shirt features a unique design by Alabo "highlighting an Afro-Surrealism tarot card providing insight and guidance through symbolism and spiritual wisdom," according to a press release from Daily Paper. The designs reflect Alabo's artistic vision of using elements of fantasy and mysticism to critique African society.

"Daily Paper is dedicated to promoting African culture by honoring the past and its influence on their vision of the future," said the artist. "They push the boundaries and challenge the perception of Africa in the fashion world which is what I aim to achieve in the art world too. It just makes sense that we work together and inspire each other."

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Image courtesy of the artist.

In 'Aba Women Riot' Nigerian Artist, Fred Martins, Reinterprets a Groundbreaking Moment In African History

In a new series of prints, the artist celebrates 'the women who lend their voices and stood strong against the oppression of Africans.'

March marks Women's History Month, and for African women, one event that epitomizes the will and tenacity within our community is the Aba Women's Riot, also known as The Women's War of 1929, in which thousands of predominantly Igbo women in eastern Nigeria mobilized to challenge British colonial rule and the barriers placed on women's civic life.

This paradigm-shifting moment in history is the center of the latest series from Nigerian visual artist Fred Martins, who began conceptualizing "Aba Women Riot" in 2019, while reflecting on the invaluable contributions women have made throughout history. "I reflected on the power of femininity and how it has affected history on every stage and era of human civilization," said the artist in a statement.

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Davido's Fiancé, Chioma Rowland, Tests Positive For Coronavirus

The Nigerian musician made the announcement via a heartfelt Instagram post on Friday.

Chioma Rowland, the fiancé of star Nigerian musician Davido, has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The artist shared the news via Instagram on Friday, writing that he and 31 people on his team decided to get tested after returning back to Lagos from abroad. While he and the rest of his team received negative results, Rowland's test came back positive.

"Unfortunately, my fiancé's results came back positive while all 31 others tested have come back negative including our baby," wrote Davido. He added that they both showed no systems, but would be self-isolating as a safety measure.

"We are however doing perfectly fine and she is even still yet to show any symptoms whatsoever. She is now being quarantined and I have also gone into full self isolation for the minimum 14 days," he added. "I want to use this opportunity to thank you all for your endless love and prayers in advance and to urge everyone to please stay at home as we control the spread of this virus! Together we can beat this!"

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Juls Drops New Music Video for 'Soweto Blues' Featuring Busiswa and Jaz Karis

The Ghanaian-British producer heads to South Africa for the music video for the amapiano-inspired track.

Heavyweight Ghanaian-British producer Juls shares his first offering of 2020, and it does not disappoint.

The producer enlists South African music star Busiswa and London's Jaz Karis for the jazz-inflected "Soweto Blues," which also boasts elements of South Africa's dominant electronic sound, Amapiano. The slow-burner features airy vocals from Karis who features prominently on the 3-minute track, while Busiswa delivers a standout bridge in her signature high-energy tone.

"The song dubbed "Soweto Blues" is a song depicting the love, sadness and fun times that Soweto tends to offer its people," read the song's YouTube description. The video premiered earlier today on The Fader. "The energy is amazing, the people are lovely and I've found a second home — especially the vibrancy of Soweto," the producer told The Fader about his trip to Soweto for the making of the video "Jaz Karis is singing a love song, which is symbolic of my new love of Soweto and I'm honoured to have worked with Busiswa whom I have been a fan of for a long time."

Fittingly, the music video sees Juls traveling through the township, taking in its sights and energy. The video, directed by Nigel Stöckl, features striking shots of the popular area and its skilled pantsula dancers.

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