Africa’s Leaders: What Were They Doing Before 30?

Africa has a historic record of impressive and influential people. When you think about your heroes you probably immediately have some vivid images: the picture of Nelson Mandela with a raised fist in a jubilant crowd after being released from prison, or Kofi Annan standing in front of the General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters. But have you ever wondered what they were doing before the age of 30? Let’s explore what some African future leaders did in their formative years.

Kofi Atta Annan and his twin sister were born in 1938 in Kumasi on the Gold Coast (now Ghana). He graduated from the elite Mfantsipim boarding school in 1957 in the same year that the Gold Coast gained independence from Britain and became known as Ghana. He went on to study economics and received a scholarship to complete his undergraduate studies in economics at Macalester College, in Minnesota in the United States. He then studied at MIT where he attained a master’s degree in management and in 1962, at the age of 24, he started working as a Budget Officer for the World Health Organization of the United Nations (UN). He became Secretary-General of the UN in 1996 and subsequently, a co-recipient, with the UN, of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born 1918 in Mvezo, South Africa. After graduating from the University of Fort Hare he began working as a lawyer in Johannesburg. It was at this time that he became involved in anti-apartheid politics and joined the African National Congress (ANC), co-founding its Youth League to oppose the South African government and its Apartheid system of racial segregation and discrimination, which was instituted in 1948 when Nelson Mandela was 20 years old. He went on to serve out a 27 year prison sentence but would eventually become South Africa’s first democratically elected president.

ALA seeks to transform Africa by developing the next generation of African leaders. Young people who will become the next Nelson Mandela or Kofi Annan. We have an internationally recognized accreditation and a demonstrable academic track record, strong extracurricular programs for absolute development, and a diverse environment with a strong African focus. If you know of an inspirational young person who we could be a part of our two year diploma program, who will eventually become a future leader, please let us know by nominating them here.


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