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Who is your African icon?

Africa HYS team | 13:43 UK time, Monday, 13 December 2010

What makes a person an icon? BBC Focus on Africa magazine has published a list of 50 African icons, but do you agree with the selection?

              African icons chart bbc

Who would be in your list of Africa's top icons and why? Is there somebody missing from this list as far as you are concerned?

If you would like to debate this topic LIVE on air on Tuesday 14 December at 1600 GMT, please include a telephone number. It will not be published.

 

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I think we need to get serious when discussing this topic because the word 'icon' is rather difficult to define and it depends on how one looks at it. It could be for the good reasons or for the bad ones. The way Nelson Mandela sacrificed to liberate his people from the bondage of apartheid is the same way Amin Dada of Uganda sacrificed his integrity to unleash terror on his people. Currently, Laurent Gbagbo is an African icon because what he has done is unfathomable and many non-Africans may be wondering whether the Ivorian 'President' carries with him any degree of integrity. However, in Africa, we are used to such.

    Nevertheless, when asked - who is your African icon? the icon here is 'yours' or 'mine'. In other words, I should own him or her. Thus, i can only own someone who has unconditionally sacrificed and committed his life towards making Africa or part of it a better place for fellow Africans or mankind. He should be someone whose has changed our way of thinking and whose philosophy we believe in. Using this criteria; Only Nelson Mandela, John Garang' de Mabior, Wangari Maathai, Leopold Seghor, Kwame Nkurumah and of course my mother fit in this category.

    I become sick if a person who only chases the skin of cow in a pitch like Didier Drogba or strives to burst peoples eardrums in the name of singing like Awilo Longomba is called an African icon.

  • Comment number 2.

    Alas, there are remarkably few heroes in Africa, in my view. Mandela, perhaps, but what about the countless lives lost due to his initial unwillingness to address (or even acknowledge) the HIV/AIDS pandemic in his country, not to mention his continued indulgence of the kleptocrats within the ruling ANC? Most of us also instinctively idolize the likes of Ghana's Nkrumah and Nigeria's Azikiwe for their anti-colonialist struggles. Yet, each left behind a legacy much more iniquitous than colonialism itself. Kenyatta, perhaps, except that today's entrenched, murderous tribalism in Kenya might be traced to his policies.

    My African heroes are those long-forgotten anti-apartheid campaigners (both black and white) who gave their lives (literally) to the struggle - particularly those who could easily have chosen a life of luxury abroad or in South Africa itself, but chose the struggle instead. I'd add Desmond Tutu to the list, particularly for his willingness to speak out against black rulers.

  • Comment number 3.

    Sorious Samura - brave and inspirational film-maker of Sierra Leonian descent. He risked his own life to show the world the plight of his fellow country-men and his films are fascinating, moving and often uncomfortable viewing. I have had the pleasure of meeting the man and hearing him speak and he is truly charismatic and compelling, and spares nobody, least of all himself in his mission to present the truth and reality. I particularly enjoyed hearing his own experiences of corruption and its effects.

  • Comment number 4.

    Dear BBC,
    There is no African icon apart from Busurumu Kofi Annan of Ghana ,has always been an instruments for peace as to the Continents as a whole.i will humblely lead on BBC to just have a facial look of him .Truely humble,peace-maker,understanding .truely an icon.

  • Comment number 5.

    I can't see Cecil Rhodes in that list...or Dr Livingstone.

  • Comment number 6.

    I ran a side questionaire on Twitter and at first comments were about how Africans are looking for someone to save them amongst themselves. Another said, African icons need not be pubic figures and that we are surrounded by everyday role models. After I clarified that in this case that was what the question demanded a flurry of interesting individuals came up including the Angel of Bukavu, Dr Denis Mukwege, Charles Mulli and his wife who have looked after/ supported/ educated over 6000 children in Kenya alongside the more noted personalities Dr. Julius Nyerere, Dr. Wangari Maathai, Patrice Lumumba, Ngugi wa Thiongo and interestingly Moses from the Bible (the person offered that the western world needs to acknowledge that he was an African)
    Personally I wonder whether there is one European individual that stands as a symbol of Europeaness. Would each seek an individual from their country ie. Italians- Leonardo da Vinci etc etc Interesting question worth debate though

  • Comment number 7.

    A true african would not leave out Robert Gabriel Mugabe on this list.Lets not be mentally deluded by cheap propaganda.Mugabe fought for the liberation of zimbabwe and amongst the reasons that he drew sharp critism from Tony blair is that he stoped the war in congo.Mugabe did spend eleven years without trial in rhodesia jail for simply rising up against the imperialist.Mugabe went on to stop the war in mozambique and most of you do not know that mandela was released via the Harare Declaration to which Mugabe was the chiarman of the fronline states.Please dont have eroded minds.Samora machel,Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu,Nelson Mandela,Kenneth Kaunda,Julius Mwalimu Nyerere,Kwame Nkrumah,B B Ghali,Roger Mila,Gabrielsellasie,Miriam Makeba

  • Comment number 8.

    My Icon will be George Weah, and all other African Footballers who have brought happiness to the world through sports. Their talents will always be in my heart. To name a few besides Weah: Kanu, Okocha,E'to,Milla, Pele of Ghana, Dorgba, Adebayor,Lualua,Noda,etc.

  • Comment number 9.


    Thomas Sankara - President of Burkina Faso 1983 - 1987
    He is my abosolut Hero.

  • Comment number 10.

    MUNHUMUTAPA
    He was the most influential leader of his day worldwide with a vibrant economy, tourism, trade eclipsing the current day European Union, music, sculpture and clothes making using leather. He was the last known most powerful King of the Shona people. He was well respected in the Region south of the equator. He traded gold for cloth with various European Countries. He built a palace now known as Great Zimbabwe.
    The value of this palace during Munhumutapa’s reign is equivalent to one billion pounds. When the colonialist arrived in Zimbabwe, they called the fortress Zimbabwe Ruins and argued that there was no way the local people could have built the marvelous fortress. Instead of acknowledging the obvious, they gave the credit for construction of this marvel to the Chinese. No remnants of Chinese people and culture were found in the region.

  • Comment number 11.

    CHAKA KING OF THE ZULU
    He had one of the most powerful army worldwide during his tenure. He had tremendous leadership skills, diplomacy and well organized government of his day that was parallel to none. He was feared by the colonialists as well as other nations of Asia, America, Europe and Australia. Chaka was creative and advanced the Zulu culture with a military motif.

  • Comment number 12.

    Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and Mr. Nelson Mandela.
    Dr. Nkrumah said “the independence of Ghana without the total liberation of Africa is meaningless." And he work hard to make sure other African nations are liberated from colonial powers. Nkrumah also advocated for the economic and political union of Africa in very early 1960. When did the Europeans form their economic union? You see Dr. Nkrumah was far ahead of his pears.
    I need not talk much about Mr. Nelson Mandela as he is still a living example to all mankind.

  • Comment number 13.

    In my view,africas top icon must include ex-ghana president John Agyekum Kufuor.Kufuor's three decades of public service are littered with comments, from detractors and admirers alike, intonating that he was a poor and uninspiring public speaker and even that he lacked charisma. Kufuor seems unfazed, however. In response to a question from the BBC's Mark Doyle as to whether he was boring, he said: "If boredom gives us peace and stability for people to go about their normal businesses and live in dignity, then I would say let's have more boredom." Boredom, however, was not the primary issue of concern for the forty percent of Ghanaians who continued to live below the poverty line of one dollar a day in 2004. Kufuor's ability to contribute to the increase in the living standards of the majority of Ghana's poverty-stricken citizens would be the real litmus test of the success of a leader that Africa Confidential called a "tall and cordial Ashanti prince."

  • Comment number 14.

    i though the list was for the dead. Then i saw Liberian President. Now, where is the picture of my icon - Nelson Mandela?

  • Comment number 15.

    To me africa's great icon list must include,Africa's king solomon Otumfuo Osei-Tutu II.Many have argued that Otumfuo Osei-Tutu II inherited a stool which carries with it honour, and his position is therefore an ascribed and not acquired. It is true that he who inherits the Golden Stool inherits honour but our elders have a saying that a man must do his own growing up no matter how old his grandfather was. Otumfuo’s achievements are there for all to see and I will not mention any of them for the sake of monotony. His ability to attract high-profiled dignitaries across the globe does not stem from the fact that he presides over the biggest kingdom in the country. Otumfuo’s ability to make headlines in international media such as the BBC does not come from the mere fact that he is the 16th occupant of Sikadwa Kofi.

    This is happening in a period in the nation’s history when the nefarious activities of some traditional rulers have reduced chieftaincy into disdainful institution. Some chiefs have become architects of conflicts, originators of litigation and synonyms for corruption. As a result, if one buys a piece of land from a chief, then one must be preparing to battle it out in court with two or more others who have also “legally” acquired the same piece of land. Otumfuo’s honour during this anniversary has a lot of lessons for traditional chiefs in this country, especially the chiefs of northern Ghana, most of whom have sold their dignity to politicians and fueled conflicts in the poverty-ridden part of the country. Gone are the days when the power of a king lay in the number of battles won during his reign. Today chiefs are agents of development and conflicts will only repel investors and posterity will judge such rulers.

    Other kingdoms may not be endowed with resources like Asanteman but J.F. Clarke teaches us that if we cannot do great things, they can do small things in a great way. Asanteman has had its share of chieftaincy problems but we hardly hear about them. Chiefs in northern Ghana must know that our greatest enemy is poverty, which can only be overcome through hard work in unity.

    To Otumfuo, I say Afenhyiapa! Your reign has brought pride to Mother Ghana. You have taught us the younger generation that one does not only have to be the president of the nation to be able to do exploits. Great things you have done but greater are the things you can still do. May your reign be long and may the Almighty God grant you wisdom to continue to prove why you are called King Solomon.

    To me, your greatest legacy is the peace, discipline and sanctity you have brought to the institution in your years of excellent leadership. Long Live Otumfuo Osei-Tutu!
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    I have Many, I will write of those who are alive.
    Mandela: Viva Mandela
    Maathai: Strong Woman who have planted more trees than anyone in this planet.
    Aly Khan Satchu: Khan has done alot to make investors comfortable to invest in Nairobi Stock Market
    Dr Leakey: He has done alot of work from discoveries, to managing Kenyan tourism and has been in the front line of Democracy in Kenya
    Peter Kenneth: The man who will be President Kenya, The honest man in service
    PLO Lumumba: An Idealist with integrity, who has fought corruption fearlessly in Kenya.
    Mwalimu Mati, Ory Okolloh, Caroline Mutoko: Both have worked tirelessly to bring democracy in Kenya by creating government Feedback websites and radio stations.
    Peter Githongo: Ran to Exile to highlight Corruption in Kenya
    Maina Kiai: Has been in the Frontline of eradicating impunity in Kenya, can make a perfect Attorny General.
    Lolani Kalu: A Kenyan who is tribeless
    Abkdir Muhammed: The chair of the Kenyan Constitution Parliamentary select committee, Hardballed and helped pass a progressive constitution.

  • Comment number 18.

    Bogi Benda. A true Kenyan legend. He brought joy to all, as the "Nations" celebrity/hero. We love you Bogi.

  • Comment number 19.

    My African Icon of the year is not a person but rather, a body-ECOWAS. The reason for my strange choice stems from the fact that for the first-time in my life time, an African governing body trushed individual interest in favour of the Sub-region (ECOWAS) and Africa for that matter to unanimously call for the outed Ivorian President to go. With earnesty, for the first time, ECOWAS/Africa is beginning to do right by the people and without a doubt, the message communicated resonates well with the wider African population. Consequently, I would like to plead with the UN to do Africa a big favour by mailing CD/DVD containing Bob Marley song entitled 'Africa Unite!' as well as the independence day speech of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to every presidential Candidate as well as newly elected Presidents. Long live peace loving African leaders and God bless Africa. Shalom

  • Comment number 20.

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  • Comment number 21.

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  • Comment number 22.

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  • Comment number 23.

    NELSON MANDELA and IAN SMITH!

    Nelson Mandela for his visions and Ian Smith for his 'get things done' ability.
    Those two great Statemen combined in co-operation would have made Southern Africa the most flourishing and prosperous part of the whole world.

    I would also add Sir Cecil Rhodes.

  • Comment number 24.

    I would like to add Ian Smith to the list.He should not be forgotten.

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.

    Ian Smith of Rhodesia would be an ideal icon. Having kept Rhodesia with its head above water, for nearly twenty years, when the rest of the world had sanctions against it. The world wanted, and got, a black murdering thug named Mugabe as leader. Once the bread basket of Africa under Ian Smith. Now a complete basket case under Mugabe.

  • Comment number 27.

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  • Comment number 28.

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  • Comment number 29.

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  • Comment number 33.

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  • Comment number 38.

    Provided this comment does not break your House Rules, I wish to say that I too believe that Ian Smith of Rhodesia should be included as an African icon.

    Thank you

  • Comment number 39.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 40.

    What about Christiaan Barnard - his contribution to world medical science is surely more worthy of note than most of our continents politicians

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    It would appear that the BBC has its own ideas as to who an "African Icon" is. So much for free speech...

  • Comment number 43.

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  • Comment number 46.

    Ian Smith for his deep understanding of the African and the leadership that Africa so desperately has needed. Nelson Mandela for his ability to reconcile and engage the diverse cultural groups in South Africa.

  • Comment number 47.

    Among many, who are alive, we see Mr. Mandella and Liberian President Ellen Johnson rise to the top as,not just African icons, but also world icons, leaders and role models.It is unfortunate that a continent of African size and a continent that is supposedly to be the oldest continent with the history of proven civilization, so many with great potential to becoming great social, political, economic, literature and scientific leaders have been pershed, imprisoned, exiled, silenced...etc for ever. Thanks

  • Comment number 48.

    MY AFRICAN ICON OF THE YEAR IS NOT A PERSON BUT ALL THOSE INNOCENT VICTIMS WHO HAVE DIED AND CONTINUE TO DIE AT THE HANDS OF DESPOTS AND TYRANTS CALLING THEMSELVES LEADERS. ALSO , MY LIST CONTAINS THOSE ARMLESS AND DEFENSELESS PEOPLE WHO CONTINUE TO SACRIFICE THEIR LIVES TO FIGHT FOR CHANGE IN THEIR COUNTRIES; LIKE EGYPT ,TUNISIA ,THE IVORY COAST AND OTHERS.

  • Comment number 49.

    I am Malou Riak,

    wrote from Juba South Sudan.

    Dear BBC allow me quote my proverb as below:

    "It had never been too deform to reform a nation, but a gradual growth of changes to avail in any circumstance"
    That mean the old likely becomes new in any way around.

    Malou Riak

    Juba South Sudan.

 

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