top of page

SPECIAL EDITION: African Women You Should Know


"May the spirit of our ancestors be a constant guide that ushers us to new heights, that make way for audacious achievements, for the betterment of our people."

- Tammy Darmel Moore, Founder of Footprints in Africa


Right off the heels of Black History Month, we sashayed into Women's History Month (the irony of it all), with everyone everywhere providing daily posts about phenomenal women, which was warranted. However, we ask that you keep that same energy long after the month of March, which is the basis for our special edition hitting your inbox today.

Here at Footprints in Africa's Connecting the Dots, we're a big fan of female leaders as a whole, movers-and-shakers, and history makers. And not because our Founder is a woman, but because we believe that when the doors of opportunity open for one woman, the possibilities of getting more women in the door are limitless. To plainly put it, if you're a woman of any race, but especially a black woman, there are just some African women you should be familiar with; because these extra-extraordinary women have done what most of us couldn't even fathom, thus paving the way for so many other sistahs to go down in history books.

In the spirit of holding women in the light and leaving them there, long after Women's History Month, we're unveiling many audacious truths, as it relates to women in power in Africa. For starters, unlike here in the states, did you know that there have been many female presidents in Africa? There's been eleven, to be exact, not one, not two, but eleven. But that's not it; did you know that an African woman was the military leader of what is known as the Yaa Asantewa War, which was the last war between the Asante and the British? Well, keep reading, and you'll learn so much more.

We've taken the liberty of denoting their names and providing a smidgen of what African women have contributed to the world and humanity as a race of people, in hopes that you will take the time to get to know their stories and their triumphs. In addition to the women presidents, we've added some bad-ass revolt historians to the list and then doused the fire with a list of 50 extraordinary women making things happen in Africa today!

Yeah, we'll say it again, if you're a woman of African descent, you need to know these names. Respectfully, let's get started.

The names are as follows; say them aloud.

  1. Sylvie Kiningi, Acting President of Burundi (February - October 1993)

  2. Ivy Matsepe-Cassaburi, Acting President of South Africa (September 2005)

  3. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia ( January 2006 - January 2018)

  4. Rose Francine Rogombe, Interim President of Gabon (June 2009 - October 2009)

  5. Agnes Monique Ohsan Bellepeau, Acting President of Mauritius (March -July 2012 and May - June 2015)

  6. Joyce Hilda Banda, President of Malawi (April 2012 - May 2014)

  7. Catherine Samba, Acting President of Central African Republic (January 2014 - March 2016)

  8. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of Mauritius (June 2015 - March 2018)

  9. Sahle-Work Zewde, President of Ethiopia ( October 2018 - Present)

  10. Prime Minister Rose Christiane Ossouka, President of Gabon (July 2020 - Present)

  11. Prime Minister Dogbé Tomegah, Togo (September 2020 - Present)

Sylvie Kiningi, Acting President of Burundi (February - October 1993)

"We cannot succeed when half of us is held back."

Photo: Motivation.Africa

Source: The Elections Management and Consulting Agency (EMCA of Africa)

"Having begun her career in the banking sector and rising to advising the then Prime Minister of Burundi, Sylvie Kanigi is the only woman to have held the positions of Prime Minister and President. She navigated the volatile ethnic terrain between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes, ensuring that a government functions amidst the civil war. Kinigi, was tasked with the sensitive task of reconciliation in an administration and state that was marred with ethnic conflict that bordered on genocide.

As an economist, it was her belief that addressing this ill could lead to a consented effort of national building that would translate to economic development for the state. One may note that her power was publicly displayed when she addressed the nation during the 1993 war promising “severe punishment” to perpetrators of the coup and also vowing to institute a commission of enquiry that would bring the culprits to justice. This show of force gained her the support of army generals who threw their weight behind her, thereby bringing a semblance of leadership in an embattled country.

Kinigi portrayed calm and leadership at a time when the nation needed immediate guidance. She put herself at the fore in trying to build up Burundi and ultimately resigned her political office to join the United Nations."

Ivy Matsepe-Cassaburi, Acting President of South Africa (September 2005)

"... impacts more severely on the poorer sections of the population, especially those dependent on agriculture,"

Photo: TechCentral

Source: Wikipedia

"Ivy Florence Matsepe-Casaburri was a South African politician. She was the second Premier of the Free State and South Africa's Minister of Communications from 1999 until her death.

She served briefly as South Africa's acting president in 2005, when both President Thabo Mbeki and the Deputy President were outside the country. Furthermore, she was chosen by the cabinet to be the constitutional and official head of state in an interim capacity for 14 hours on 25 September 2008, between the resignation of Thabo Mbeki and the taking of office by Kgalema Motlanthe. She was the first, and to date, only woman to have held the post of President in South Africa and the first woman to be head of state of South Africa since Elizabeth II's reign as Queen of South Africa in 1961."