This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.
Focus On Africa Magazine
Focus On Africa Magazine is no longer being updated.
Focus on Africa Magazine home
Last updated: 06 September, 2011 - Published 15:28 GMT
Email a friend   Printable version
Forum: Who is your African Icon?

Icons poster
Who is your African icon?
Is Muammar Gaddafi an African icon? Or perhaps Robert Mugabe? What makes a person an icon? Who would be in your list of Africa's top icons?

What's your view?

Identifying an African icon is difficult... should it be someone from the arts, politics or sport? Someone less well known who is doing good work in your community?

We have just published our top 50 icons, as voted by yourselves. Here is our list. (in alphabetical order):

1. Chinua Achebe; 2. Akon; 3. Kofi Annan; 4. Nnamdi Azikiwe; 5. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa; 6. Hastings Banda; 7. Steve Biko; 8. Amilcar Cabral; 9. Agbani Darego; 10. FW de Klerk; 11. Lucky Dube; 12. Cesaria Evora; 13. John Garang; 14. Haile Gebrselassie; 15. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf; 16. Nwankwo Kanu; 17. Kenneth Kaunda; 18. Salif Keita; 19. Jomo Kenyatta; 20. Angelique Kidjo; 21. John Kufuor; 22. Patrice Lumumba; 23. Baaba Maal; 24. Wangari Maathai; 25. Samora Machel; 26. Miriam Makeba; 27. Franco Luambo Makiadi aka Franco; 28. Nelson Mandela; 29. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela; 30. Hugh Masekela; 31. Roger Milla; 32. Oliver Mtukudzi; 33. Youssou N'Dour; 34. Gamal Abdel Nasser; 35. Kwame Nkrumah; 36. Julius Nyerere; 37. Abedi Pele; 38. Jerry Rawlings; 39. Thomas Sankara; 40. Ken Saro-Wiwa; 41. Haile Selassie; 42. Ousmane Sembene; 43. Leopold Senghor; 44. Wole Soyinka; 45. William R. Tolbert; 46. Ahmed Sekou Toure; 47. Ali Farka Toure; 48; Desmond Tutu; 49. Ngugi wa Thiong'o; 50. George Weah
Continue to send in your names and thoughts and we will publish them, below.

Join the Focus Forum

To take part in the debate simply fill in the form on the right. A selection of your comments will appear below.

Leonard Jakes Agbovi, Accra, Ghana:

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah; Haile Gebrselassie; Nelson Mandela; Jerry Rawlings; Kofi Annan; Desmond Tutu; Prof. Evan Atta Mills; Muammar Gaddafi; Patrice Lumumba; Azuma Nelson; Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu; Wole Soyinka and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. These are my African icons; leaders amongst leaders in the world. These are the people I would choose to lead with me even with my eyes closed. They are selfless people who are ready to die for Africa and what they believe in

Joel Emmanuel Atoroba, Yambio, South Sudan:

An icon is someone who is more focused and visionary; someone who is led by humanity, identifies people's problem and strives to address them for their well being and not his/her own. Among them are the late Dr.John Garang, Nelson Mandela and Julius Nyerere

Jihadi Prince, Khota-Kota, Malawi:

Former President of Malawi, Dr Bakili Muluzi is an African icon, as well as Hastings Kamuzu Banda, Kofi Annan, Samora Machel, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Lucky Dube

Tapang Ivo Tanku, Yaounde, Cameroon:

Emperor Menelik of Ethiopia is the pace setter for African icons. What is Akon's name doing on this list? Menelik fought against Italians and defeated them. He was the first African to open the eyes of other icons to stand for the liberation of Africa. In Cameroon, Roger Milla is a true African icon and world football legend

Philip Abusah, Accra, Ghana:

Patrice Lumumba and Kwame Nkrumah

Deng Simon Mathiang, Juba, South Sudan:

To me an icon is a person who has been there for his or her people and speaks for the voiceless. My icons are: Dr John Garang, Lucky Dube and Julius Nyerere

Austin Kamalo, Cape Town, South Africa:

John Chilembwe: he rose against the colonial government in Malawi in 1915. History says the government soldiers killed him; the reality is he migrated to the States but a family member who looked like him was the one who was killed

Wasike Khasabuli, Nairobi, Kenya:

The late Thomas Sankara is my African icon because of his revolutionary activites in Burkina Faso

Francis K. Talam, Nandi Hills, Kenya:

Koitaleel Samoei, the pioneer freedom fighter of 1800. He was murdered after being cheated into a peace truce on 19th October 1905. He had waged war from 1890-1905; therefore he is a real African icon!

Addo Kufuor, UK:

Nelson Mandela is definitely my icon. Time will never forget such a man, unlike these greedy current leaders

Pasquale Apari Albino, Torit, Republic of South Sudan:

Salva Kiir Mayardit is my African icon because he spearheaded the creation of South Sudanese independence and promoted peaceful co-existence of his people through equitable service delivery and taking towns to rural areas, as per the philoshophy of our late hero Dr. John Garang

Nyasha Chigumbura, Harare, Zimbabwe:

Mugabe is the greatest African icon because he believes in empowering his country man; unfortunately his plan was hijacked by opportunists in his party

Daniel Ochankwu, Port Harcourt, Nigeria:

Let us put nationality of the nominees aside and speak the truth. Nelson Mandela of South Africa is the greatest icon and living legend on African soil. His contributions outweigh other 50-Nominees. No doubt about it

Biniam Abay, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:

Kwame Nkrumah; Yuakim Chisano, Pastor Eyob Demissie, Lucky Dube and Muammar Gaddafi are my African icons. These are the leaders that our African leaders should learn from about leading their countries

Samuel, Nairobi, Kenya:

Before Mugabe, before Mandela, before Kwame, there was King Menilik of Ethiopia. His victory over Italy was Africa's first military victory over Europe and inspired not only Africa but also black people around the world. Just ask Marcus Garvey and Martin Luther King

Harrison K. G'lux, Monrovia, Liberia:

An icon can be a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something, so for that reason Robert Mugabe is definitely an African icon. My African icons are George M. Weah and John Garang

Akashi Andie, Kigali, Rwanda:

1. Rural African women who gave birth to children in the most difficult situations; fed them and took them to school. 2.Julius Kambarage Nyerere - most conflicts in Africa are/were tribally related. Thanks to Dr Nyerere, Tanzanians have overcome this curse with distinction and pride. 3.Paul Kagame - Mr Nyerere once described him as 'our son'; clearly they had a lot of things in common. He stopped Tutsi genocide in Rwanda and reconciled Rwandans

Charles Farouk Oliver Lako, Juba, South Sudan:

John Garang is an African icon and freedom fighter

Atina Ndindeng, London, UK:

Very few African leaders become iconic without dirtying their hands with the blood of other people. Gaddafi cannot be seen as an icon because of greed and totalitarianism; it was sad enough that he had to taste his own medicine which was too sweet for him, costing him his life. Mugabe fits into the paradigm of determined patriot who holds his people's interest at heart despite the dirty tactics played by the West to taint him with atrocities. The West needs to sort out their domestic problems which are worse than what happens in African countries, rather than being penny wise and pound foolish. My icon is Nelson Mandela who never clung to power, rigged elections, killed people on his way or imprisoned those who were outspoken, like most African heads of states today. There is pride in losing with honour, rather than being a winner in shame

Nyasha Chigumbura, Harare, Zimbabwe:

Mugabe is the greatest African icon, as he believes in empowering his countryman, although the plan was hijacked by opportunists in his party

Bereket Yohannes, Florida, USA:

Julius Nerere and Nelson Mandela are my African icons. They are good examples of leaders who carried out power peacefully and led political reconciliation

Mohammed Hashim Sidi-Madani, Kumasi, Ghana:

Kwame Nkrumah; Nelson Mandela; Jerry Rawlings; John Kuffour and Muammar Gaddafi are my African icons. These are the leaders that our African leaders should learn from about leading their countries

Oloye Kehinde Adejube, Akure, Nigeria:

Michael Adekunle Ajasin, former governor of Ondo State of Nigeria

Ada Enyia, Port Harcort, Nigeria:

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

Witness Martin, Windhoek, Namibia:

Sam Shafishuna Nujoma is an icon for bringing the liberation stuggle to an end for all the oppressed Namibians under the apartheid regime

William Mumba, Mzuzu, Malawi:

I cannot agree more with the icons list in your magazine but lets include Chakufwa Chihana of Malawi who fought against Hastings Banda's dictatorship; Hastings Banda himself for making Malawi one of the most peaceful countries in the world; Joyce Banda, the first woman vice president in Malawi; Kofi Annan for being the first black African to lead the UN; Oliver Mtukuzi for his music; Wole Soyinka; Chinua Achebe for 'things fall apart' and of course I cannot forget the man who wrote the 'African Child' - Kamara Laye

Wako Wondimu, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:

Lucky Dube! All his music concerns realities in the world; what is going on; politics; love; friends; etc. I can see; hear and watch it all through his music. For me he is really an icon for all African people and politicians

Tabitha Bunshak, Abuja, Nigeria:

My icons are Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a Pan-African nationalist who brought broadcasting to Africa 50 years ago and was an apostle of free education as a powerful tool for development. My other icon is Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for her efforts as World Bank Executive to improve the economic status of Africa

Settie Bundo, Gweru, Zimbabwe:

There can never be a greater icon than Olusegun Obasanjo, the former Nigerian president, who seized power as a soldier only to hand it over to a civilian and then participated in democratic polls in which he won, premised on his goodwill. Again, at the end of his two terms he allowed a democratic poll to elect a new leader, as he stepped aside after having catapulted the Nigerian economy to dizzy heights. Salute to the great Igwe; he also helped mend relations between Rwanda and Uganda at the height of the Congo war

Musa Sheriff, Nippyu Town; Liberia:

Why were Muammar Gaddafi and Robert Mugabe not voted as African icons?

Milton Margai, London, England:

Without doubt, Nelson Mandela. He's a great leader: resilient, determined, uncompromising and most of all compassionate. For him to come out of prison after decades, knowing what he went through, and still found it in his heart to let bygones be bygones for the good of South Africa. Instead of seeking revenge on his aggressors, he settled for forgiveness and peace. What a man! He's revered and loved by many and those who have been fortunate to be in his company have all expressed their admiration and reverance for such a soft spoken and quick witted statesman. Mandela is by all means a man of the people regardless of race. He's touched all of us in one way or another. Madiba will always be my African icon

lonya Bany Banak Borlual, Juba, South Sudan:

John Both Dieu is my African icon because he has helped our new country gain independence since the colonial time. He was the first rebellion; as council of chief he once said that we, black Africans, should be able to rule ourselves and this has remained true - here we are. Ngundeng Boang is my aspirant and for the Horn of Africa, he is a true prophet who has prophecies of live stories

James Mohamed Sesay, Dietzenbach, Germany:

Do you want to tell me that there is no icon in Sierra Leone?

Andy, Lagos, Nigeria:

Where is Fela Anikulapo Kuti? What is Akon's name doing there? What has he contributed to africa? Please edit and remove some of those names

Benson Kanyembo, Mfuwe, Mambwe, Zambia:

My African icons are: 1. African Women; 2. Steve Bantu Biko; 3. Kenneth Kaunda; 4. Nelson Mandela; 5. Haile Selassie; 6.Dedan Kimathi

Ashley Osei, London, England:

Looking back on the history of Africa, Nkrumah did not only try to help Ghana and West Africa, but the whole of Africa. After attaining independence for Ghana, he continued to help other African countries and some black countries in the Carribean. He even said said independence of Ghana was meaningless unless there was a total liberation of the African continent. For me, he is still 'the icon' - a selfless human being

Francis Mogga, Juba, South Sudan:

In my opinion Kwame Nkrumah is the African icon. This man has done a lot in bringing many African countries to independence from the colonial masters

Ivwananji Siame, Kabwe, Zambia:

My African icon is Nathan Nyirenda, a gospel muscian of Zambia. Through his artistic music, he managed to come up with a song entitled 'Mwe makufi,' translated as 'my knees'. The message in this song speaks for the poor, the afflicted and especially the voiceless in our society. This has led him to his next project called 'what is life', asking many questions that we ask ourself about life. His common humble remarks include that 'when I die I don't want people to count how much wealth I will leave behind but how many lives I will save'. This saw him donate all the funds that he raised from his album launch to be used by people with cardiac diseases who did not have funds to fly abroad for better quality service, because currently Zambia has not got these services. No politician can do this, because they are even stealing from the poor of the poorest. A person with such a heart deserves to be an African icon. May you please put him on the next icon chart

Godwin Ndhlovu, KweKwe, Zimbabwe:

As a Zimbabwean, my icon is Dr Thomas Mapfumo, now based inthe USA. Not only is he an accomplished musician but also a great freedom fighter. He fought against the white settler goverment of Ian Smith and was persecuted for it. Today he is fighting against Mugabe's dictatorship and violence. He is now in exile in the USA. Other deserving people are George Weah, Kalusha Bwalya, Seretse Khama, Morgan Tsvangirai, Joshua Nkomo and Desmond Tutu!

Leochristeo Obinna Iyida, Nsk. Enugu, Nigeria:

Jonathan Goodluck, the president of Nigeria, should also be an African icon - for being being an instrument of peace in Nigeria and Africa

Olumide Ayeni, Lagos, Nigeria:

Away with politicians! I would rather go for those whose selfless efforts have achieved a lot for the faceless and the voiceless. I am nominatting Fela Kuti, Thomas Sankara and Ken Saro-Wiwa

Akile Julius Godo, Makurdi, Benue State, Nigeria:

Africans share similarities with respect to political and economical history, cultures, struggles and aspirations, thus an African iconic status must be viewed through the an African lens and not necessary nationality.

Therefore, an icon can be measured by the following criteria:

1. That the icon's actions/behaviour expressed through his/her talent, skills, intellect and opportunity reflects selfless service to mankind,
2. and the character and values of the icon must be consistent irrespective of personal benefit the individual might derive from the iconic status,
3. the icon's actions/behaviour will be looked upon as a reference point and source of inspiration,
4. the icon's positive attributes and values should outweigh his/her flaws; after all no human is perfect.

Now if most people will accept Nelson Mandela as an ideal icon then that should be the benchmark to assess the iconic status of the other 49 personalities

Akwasi Agyeman, Kumasi, Ghana:

I think Messrs Gaddafi and Mugabe should have made the list ahead of many of these guys. Whatever the reasons that hindered their inclusion, I firmly believe that they stand tall amongst some of the people who made the list. These two guys have ruled their respective states over a decade or more; some people may have criticisms against them but at least they have proven a great deal of leadership in their respective countries which have survived economically, ahead of some African countries in the past and recent times. Let us give them the benefit of the doubt

Emmanuel Mabe, Toronto, Canada:

I realize that supermodel Alek Wek is not on the list. Is she too black to appear in your magazine or what? I don't blame you as a magazine, I know there is an inferiority complex among Africans themselves. Some of them have simple minds that have fallen prey to western brainwashing about the concept of beauty. Please have Alek on your next list

Kwame Aboagye, London, UK:

My real African icons: 1. Kwame Nkrumah 2. Patrice Lumumba 3. Sekou Ture 4. Robert Mugabe 5. Winnie Mandela 6. Charles Ssali 7. Chinwezu 8. Yaa Asantewaa 9. Nzingha 10. Mirriam Makeba 11. Ken Saro-Wiwa 12. Thomas Sankara 13. Nnamdi Azikiwe 14. Constance Cummings-John 15. Leopold Senghor 16. Samora Machel 17. John Evans Atta Mills 18. Bantu Steve Biko 19. Chris Hani 20. Fela Kuti 21. Roger Mila 22. Azumah Nelson 23. Haile Selassie

Hannah Saio Mansaray, Freetown, Sierra Leone:

My vote is for Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, former President of the Republic of Sierra Leone who is known as the father of democracy. He was the key icon during the peace process in Sierra Leone. He handed over power peacefully to the opposition party during the 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections and recently he was awarded for being the most peaceful citizen in Sierra Leone (AWOL Awards)

Ladu Lomeling, Juba, South Sudan:

It is quite interesting that I couldn't find the person I regard as my African icon: Mo Ibrahim, whose foundation is supporting democracy and good governance across the continent. He has a string of charitable projects supporting disadvanged Africans, financed from his own pocket. He surely deserves recognition. African leaders are looting our resources, yet an individual like Mo Ibrahim is carrying the burden of cleaning up the mess. Imagine - he has established a scheme to reward (award) the best African former presidents with charisma. Examples are former Mozambiquen leader Joachim Chissano, and Botswana's Felix Mogae.Otherwise, all the rest are nothing but dictators terrorising their own populace

Mwavu Julius, Jinja, Uganda:

Philly Bongole Lutaya, an artist from Uganda is my African icon. He publicly admitted he was HIV positive. This initiated a road-map to positive living and restored the hopes of those living with HIV. He also initiated HIV-free and anti-stigma campaigns through his songs like 'alone and frightened'. He further contributed towards charity as some of the revenues from his concerts were donated to orphaned children whose parents had died of Aids. He was also a true African patriot as portrayed by the message in his song 'born in Africa' which was sung at the 90th birthday concert of Nelson Mandela at Hyde Park, London in the summer of 2008

Deji Ampitan, Kgi State, Nigeria:

It is Nelson Mandela

Data Maxwell Glalah, Ho, Ghana:

I can see that most people chose their icons based on nationalism and patrotism but I will go for Col Muammar Gaddafi first, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ken Saro Wiwa and John Stephen Akwari because their life work has not only helped their countries but Africa as a whole

Sulaiman Akinyemi Rilwan, Ile-ife,Nigeria:

I am terribly disappointed that you made a horrendous oversight in your compilation of deserving Africans musicians whom you selected in your current publication, marking the 50 years of African independence. Where is the great Fela Anikulapo Kuti on the list? The inventor and originator of a truly African genre, Afro-Beat is a popular genre of music appreciated all over the world with more than 90 bands in the US alone! Also, there is currently a show on America's Broadway, celebrating this great icon of African music. Some of the artists featured I am sorry to say do not merit the honour of first consideration before the Great Fela as a lot of them perform 'foreign' music, like Hip Hop, Jazz,and Reggae. I hope this will be corrected in subsequent editions

Byaruhanga Wilson, Kampala, Uganda:

My African icon is Muammar Gaddafi, because he is rated with having built Africanism within Africa. He made the Libyan economy grow at the level European countries grow - the gdp matches that of Spain. Bravo Gaddafi, we are sure you will win the war

Hussain Mwithi, Nairobi, Kenya:

My African icon is Raila Amollo Odinga, the Kenyan prime minister. He has been on the front line in the fight for the democratization process in Kenya and around Africa. He demonstrated leadership by accepting to form a coalition government with his political rival, president Mwai Kibaki and further lead Kenyans to the attainment of a new constitution. Raila has also been vocal and critical on dictatorships all around Africa, even having a hand in the establishment of the coalition government in Zimbabwe. Recently Raila faced the Ivory Coast crises head-on by recommending millitary intervention to protect and restore the will of the people that was defied by president Gbagbo. Africa desperately needs democracy and Odinga stands for it

Gaboratenelwe Gasennelwe, Botswana:

We are a small country with several “icons”- with a personal bias

1. Miss Mpule Kwelagobe- Miss Universe 1999
2. Julia Majaha Jartby- First woman governor of the Bank of Botswana
3. Tebby Gasennelwe-Winner and youngest contestant for Survivor Africa Panama 2006
4. Sir Ketumile Masire-Second President of the Republic of Botswana and African Statesman
5. Sir Seretse Khama-Founding President of the Republic of Botswana and founder of the frontline states
6. Margret Nasha-First woman Speaker of the House of Parliament in Botswana
7. Festus Gontebanye Mogae- Third President of the Republic of Botswana and HIV activist
8. Ataliah Molokomme- First woman Attorney General of the Republic of Botswana and feminist
9. Benjamin Gasennelwe- Primer Development and Planning Economist and Cattle Baron in the Republic of Botswana
10. Mathata Gasennelwe (1976-2009)-Advertising and marketing genius, entrepreneur and philanthropist

Shiktra Bwala, Jos, Nigeria:

I feel Kwame Nkrumah merits it, if it is based on politics and effort made on national development. Ghana is what she is today because of the effort put in by him for his country and Africa at large

Ali Vandi, Freetown, Sierra Leone:

Thanks for the fantastic Focus on Africa magazine you produced, it looks colourful!
Unfortunately, I did not see the face of a Sierra Leonean. Are we not part of the programme? I saw some countries with two representatives. Please consider these names:

Mohamed Kallon - Professional footballer
Umaru Fofanah - Journalist and BBC reporter
Ernest Bai Koroma - President of Sierra Leone

O.Appiah, Port Harcourt, Nigeria:

I am an African born in Ghana. My African icon is the visionary Governor of oil-rich Rivers State of Nigeria, Hon. Rotimi Chubuike Amaechi. He is the first African leader to build and deliver 60 modern health centres and 60 modern schools in 60 days to his people, now dubbed 60:60:60. While many African leaders are hell-bent on self enrichment, Governor Amaechi is using the state's funds at his disposal to bring development to his people. Hon. Rotimi Chubuike Amaechi, you are indeed, an African icon

George Allan Phiri, Lilongwe, Malawi:

An African icon may be a politician, economist or any other person whose vision rallies to transform the African continent from donor dependence to self-sustainability - economically, politically and scientifically - although I also realize that there is nothing like self-sustainability in a global village. Every country or continent depends on another country - that is the philosophy of globalization. His Excellency Prof. Bingu wa Mutharika is my African icon. He has the passion to transform the African continent from being a consuming to an exporting continent. Currently, African countries export raw materials rather than finished products. This trend indeed must change

Emmanuel Adzonyo, Lom, Togo:

While talking about African icons we must not forget those who fight for our countries independence. I think that Sylvanus Olympio is an African icon. But I can never forget these three very important people: Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara and Nelson Mandela, my best African icons

Oluwatope Abiodun, Akure, Nigeria:

Nice to be here. My best (icon) is Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He gave us many things when he was a governor of Western Nigeria. Today the opposition wants to destroy his legacy but one part of it that can never be destroyed is education. I love him, he is my man today and forever. When we talk of progress we talk of Awo; when we talk of infrastructure we talk of Awo. That is why the progressive in the South West can never detach themselves from him, because Awo smybolises greatness and progress

Oluwatope, Abiodun, Akure, Nigeria:

Nice to be here, my icon is Chief Obafemi Awolowo, any greatest man most lay down a leagcy, Chief gave us many things when when he was a governor of the Western Nigeria today the opposition wanted to kill and destroy all is legacy; but the one thing that cannot be destroyed is education. I love him he is my man, when will talk of progress we talk of Awo when we talk of infrastructure we talk of Awo that is why the Progressive in the south west can never ditach themself from him, because Awo symbolise greatness and progress is my icon.

 He surely deserves recognition
Ladu, Lomeling, Juba, South Sudan

Ladu, Lomeling, Juba, South Sudan:

Its quite interesting that I couldn't find on the someone I regard as my African Icon: Mo Ibrahim whose foundation is supporting democracy and good governance across the continent. He's string of charitable projects supporting disadvanged Africans financed from his own pocket. He surely deserves recognition. African leaders are looting bare our resources, yet an individual like Mo Ibrahim is carrying the burden of cleaning up the mess. Imagine he's establish a scheme to reward (award) best African former presidents with charisma. Examples are former Mozambiquen leader Joachim Chissano, and Botswana's Felix Mogae.Otherwise, all the rest are nothing but dictators terrorizing their own populace.

Edubcotonee, Naugatuck, USA:

This is my first time on your forum. I have discovered so much fascinating stuff here, particularly its discussion. From the tons of feedback, I suppose I'm not the only one having all the enjoyment right here! Keep up the nice work

David Awe, Freetown, Sierra Leone:

Fela Kuti is the greatest musician that has ever come out of Africa. Fela's band was like an orchestra. His music is not about drums banging together but with laid down tunes. Fela read music theoretically and practised it to perfection. Fela was an embodiment of perfectionism in music

Sakubita, Nakonde, Zambia:

To me an icon must a person who commits themselves to others unconditionally, be it in marriage or in their social comunity activity. I pick Miriam Makeba, an inspiration to her fans, despite putting her life at risk

 She has taken my country, Liberia, from the valley of despair to the buoyancy of a new hope
Augustine Kullie, Monrovia, Liberia

Augustine Kullie, Monrovia, Liberia:

In whatever way you look at it, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of the Republic of Liberia remains my African Icon. My reason for my choice goes far beyond the celebrated fact that this personality is the first democratically elected female president on the continent but that she has taken my country, Liberia, from the valley of despair to the buoyancy of a new hope

Mekonen Tekleyohanes, Burnaby, Canada:

In my opinion Emperor Menilik of Ethiopia is the all time icon and symbol of freedom

Edmund, UK:

I recently came across your list of African icons of the last century. One name is very conspicuous by its absence - Idi Amin Dada - former Ugandan President. Before Mandela was released he was the most famous (notorious) African. Love him or hate him, he really stood out from the crowd literally and figuratively

  Using my criteria, Bono of U2 would qualify but not Akon
Michael Williams, Kingston, Jamaica

Michael Williams, Kingston, Jamaica:

I believe an icon should be someone who has contributed or is contributing to the development of an African community whether in Africa or the African Diaspora. I don't think an artiste or sportsman who has contributed little or nothing can be counted simply because he or she is famous. There has to be some contribution like that of Miriam Makeba. Using my criteria, Bono of U2 would qualify but not Akon

Kyahar'an Zumuk, Jos, Nigeria:

Mandela is my African icon. He is a living legend. Even though I am not from South Africa, I feel his impact miles away

Kwame Aboagye, London, UK:

My African icons are: 1. Kwame Nkrumah 2. Patrice Lumumba 3. Bantu Steve Biko 4. Samora Machel 5. Nnamdi Azikiwe 6. Thomas Sankara 7. Chris Hani 8. Robert Mugabe 9. Winnie Mandela 10. Charles Ssali 11. Chinwezu 12. Fela Kuti 13. Amilcar Cabral 14. Yaa Asantewaa 15. Nzingha 16. Azumah Nelson 17. Roger Mila 18. Hugh Masekela 19. John Evans Atta Mills 20. Abulayde Wade

Kwaku Gyansi, DC, USA:

I am glad Kufuor was not on the original list; please keep that name out. Yes, Henry, he tried to sell Ghana but God saved us. At least our schools still belong to us unlike our national airforce which now belongs to his family and their partners-in-crime abroad. For democracy's success, it is we the exploited but mature little people who have managed to sustain it (elections) without launching missiles at each other. The first time we put him in office; the second time he stole but we kept our cool, cool as we are. Let his name be buried while he still lives!

Habu Kale Tijjani, Maiduguri, Nigeria:

Abubakar Tafawa Balewa is my African icon because of his selfless service both to Nigeria and Africa till his death. Also Obasanjo for his strange and unpredictable behaviour to Nigerians and other Africans

Francis Benson, Accra, Ghana:

John Kufuor is my African icon

Faboye Samson, Lagos, Nigeria:

For me, I'll pick my African icons from the ancients. Egyptian architect Imhotep whose imagination begat the iconic pyramids of El-Giza and the numerous nameless African sculptors who produced the sphinxes, Nik arts, Great Zimbabwe, Egyptian mummies and art, Benin and Ife bronze heads which are all African trademarks around the world. These are my African icons

Laye Gaye, Oxford, UK:

Nelson Mandela: a great man like him will never be forgotten

Kwaku Baah, Adenta, Ghana:

Kwame Nkrumah is without a doubt Africa's most influential icon. His vision for the continent is as relevant today as he foresaw some fifty years ago

Karishma Peerthy, Pamplemousses, Mauritius:

I would say Chinua Achebe. He is a colonialist writer and he wrote so that his people were aware of the injustices and atrocities they endured because of colonialism. In a way, by writing he is sensibilising his people so that they may take the appropriate actions and also to have a better and prosperous Africa

Joseph Muana, Freetown, Sierra Leone:

All African mothers, including my mother Lucy Sese Muana. Without these mothers, there would have been no African men and women

John Kaguchia, Nairobi, Kenya:

Mwai Kibaki, the President of the republic of Kenya who turned around the Kenyan economy from negatives to positive 7%. Even though Kenya experienced post election violence, Kibaki admitted the opposition into his government in order to foster peace and stability. He started free primary and secondary education; something that has raised the literacy levels to a high level. He has done expansive infrastructural development which has literally put Kenya in a take off position. This will propel Kenya to a higher level of development

 Honestly, former soccer superstar George Opong Weah of Liberia is an African icon
Jenkins Zelee Kannah, Plymouth, Minnesota, USA

Jenkins Zelee Kannah, Plymouth, Minnesota, USA:

Honestly, former soccer superstar George Opong Weah of Liberia is an African icon. Weah is the true meaning of the word icon. Most soccer stars in and outside of Africa are inspired by George's career, and his achievements. George is the best and no one has ever come close to his records. The gentleman is distinguished and that's what makes him an African icon

Isaac Paul Bendigo, Melbourne, Australia:

Dear BBC, why did you include Muammar Gaddafi as African icon, in your original list? He has nothing to do with African's affairs. The real icons are those like Nelson Madela and Dr John Garang de Mabior. They deserve to be icons of all time plus my best BBC Network Africa reporters, Uduak Amimo, Paul Bakibinga and Peter Okwoche

Intelligent Lavrick, Rumbek, Sudan:

To me, Nelson Mandela is an all time African icon because of his peaceful struggle for peace and freedom of all South African, as well as the 27 years that he spent behind bars for the rights of all ordinary black South Africans. This sums up that only few African eminent personalities can ever do that on the African continent. He is a legend of peace, freedom and democracy that we all enjoy today on the African continent

 I'm surprised that you people cannot find a single icon from my country
Inajugor, Freetown, Sierra Leone

Inajugor, Freetown, Sierra Leone:

I'm surprised that you people cannot find a single icon from my country. Had I known I wouldn't have bought this edition and if I had the power I'd have influenced the whole of Sierra Leone not to buy a single copy. I'm sure from independence to this, our 50th year, at least one person could have qualified

Idowu Oladapo, Kano, Nigeria:

In my opinion a lot of individuals such as Gaddafi, DE Clark, Mugabe, just to mention a few where added and the real icons who contributed to the lives of millions were ommited, such as Awolowo, Mandela, Tafawa Balewa, Fela, Nuhu Ribadu and a lot more

Hillary Beffo, Khartoum, Sudan:

Good that the following are excluded: 1. Agbani Darego 2.Chioma Ajunwa 3. Samuel Peters 4. Kanu Nwankwo 5. Mike Adenuga 6. Chimamanda Adichie 7. Samuel Eto'o 8. Awilo Logonba 9. Dikembe Mutombo 10. Akeem Olajuwon 11. Olusoji Fasuba They are worth nothing but are just entertainers

Etoanwei Isengyeng, Douala, Cameroon:

I can't see Nkem Owoh who brings lots of laughter. I can't see Eto Fils who brings Africa glory. I can't see Bob Marley and Marcus Garvey

Endale Gebreyes, Uppsala, Sweden:

I can't stop wondering how the icons are chosen, as the original list missed the most important person in Africa - Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia. He was the first leader to wage a victorious battle against colonialist forces in Africa. He showed the people of Africa that it is possible to be free from the yoke of colonisation with determination and unity

Endalamaw, Khartoum, Sudan:

Menelik II is an African icon, without question. In the Battle of Adwa, he led his army in the first major victory of Africans over a European power. That victory unleashed a feeling of 'we can liberate ourselves' among Africans. It has also contributed to the struggle against racism in South Africa. (Please listen to Thabo Mbeki's recent speech on this topic in Addis Ababa.) The uncontested African icon is Madiba. J K Nyerere follows him

 Your final selection of icons in the pull-out poster was fantastic
Emeka Anaba, Lagos, Nigeria

Emeka Anaba, Lagos, Nigeria:

Your final selection of icons in the pull-out poster was fantastic. However, I feel Nwankwo Kanu was wrongly and inaccurately described as a 'Nigerian footballer who played in the English Premier League'. Nwankwo Kanu is an Olympic Gold Medalist and the most decorated African footballer!

Emem Okon Isemin, Uyo, Nigeria:

I must commend the BBC for this kind of initiative. Being non-sentimental here will help arrive at a reasonable conclusion. I think names like Ngozi Iwaala of the World Bank, Wole Soyinka, a nobel prize winner, Lucky Dube, a star musician till his death, M.K.O. Abiola Abiola, a business tycoon, Nelson Mandela a human activist and Ahmadu Bello, should have a line in the list of African icons

Dolph Keorapetse Mmono, Gaborone, Botswana:

President Festus G Mogae, our ever living icon, for his outstanding work on HIV/Aids. He made the world realise that this killer disease will erode the human kind if we don't stand up against it. He saved many lives, through all the initiatives he brought to fight against HIV/Aids. Mogae is well celebrated and praised across the globe for his good government and improving the economic standards of Botswana

Deng Chol Akuoc, Malakal, Sudan:

John Garang

Daniel Ngbede David, Yola, Nigeria:

Truly, Nelson Mandela did all he did for the sake of his 'neighbour' - pure altruism

Awah Ndikum Chifen, Bamenda, Cameroon:

Nelson Mandela (N for New and M for Millennium). He is not only listed among the African icons, but the fact that he is placed in the middle of the list is significant in itself as nature recognised him to be the iconic man in South Africa (and Africa as a whole). It was like a new millennium for blacks in Africa, to be able to identify their status not as a black man but as a human being created by God with equal rights, thus putting an end to the racial practice. For most of his life Mandela fought for an end to apartheid, a system of segregation based on race that gave advantages to whites while restricting blacks to labour reserves in South Africa

Buony Kun, Kampala, Uganda:

Muammar Gaddafi was really an icon to African Arabs of Libya but Robert Mugabe was not

 My African icons are Cecil Rhodes, the greatest nation builder, and Ian Douglas Smith, the greatest leader
Paul McCarthy, London, UK

Paul McCarthy, London, UK:

Quite a heavy dose of communists, militants and criminals there. Do you include Winnie for her 'services to the tyre industry'? My African icons are Cecil Rhodes, the greatest nation builder, and Ian Douglas Smith, the greatest leader and most decent man the continent ever saw

Edwina Gordon, Monrovia, Liberia:

My icons are JJ Rawlings, Nelson Mandela and Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia

Byangu Ben, Mbale, Uganda:

Dr Milton Obote tried to reduce poverty through co-operative movements

Renee, Vancouver, BC, Canada:

There are some pretty strange selections and omissions in this list, and it is sadly gender-biased based. Just because some of these people were presidents does not make them icons. I would include people like Kimmie Weeks, Graca Machal, John Githongo, Festus Mogae and Leymah Gbowee, and remove Akon (really?), John Garang and Winnie Mandela, amongst others

Roy, Lagos, Nigeria:

It depends on the criteria you employed in choosing African icons, but I do not think for people to be an icon you have to be a saint; rather it is how your past actions/effort affect people positively and if yes, then you may qualify to be an icon. Nelson Mandela and Gadaffi tranformed their countries and became the envy of other African countries. Obafemi Awolowo transformed western Nigeria and became the envy of other parts of Nigeria. Fela Kuti, through his music, exposed the atrocities committed by people in Government. Umaru Yaradua unravelled the militant challenges in Nigeria by granting amnesty to the militants. Gani Fawehinmi was a passionate human rights activist and General Olusegun Obasonjo was the first military head of state to move over to being a democratically elected president

 Dadas Camara of Guinea Conakry, who criticised the French policy in his country was almost killed for his nationalist policy
Tabung Joseph, Douala, Cameroon
Tabung Joseph, Douala, Cameroon:

It is hard to say exactly who is an African icon. However, as an African, I believe that Africans who are still courageous enough despite the heavy criticisms and threats from Western nations to protect African interest are real African icons. We have seen the world turned against Robert Mugabe for his nationalist stand against the whites in his country. He managed to go through the storm and he was to be isolated later. Dadas Camara of Guinea Conakry, who criticised the French policy in his country was almost killed for his nationalist policy. Despite the threats, he stood firm to the suprise of many Africans. In Ivory Coast where France is using the United Nations to futher implant its selfish policies, Laurent Gbagbo is courageous to say no to France. As chief arbitrator of the conflict in Ivory Coast, Thabo Mbeki, while revealing the truth in the conflict in Ivory Coast, had to leave the presidency following threats and criticism from France. This very France had earlier killed Thomas Sankara through the hands of Blaise Compaore. And France is today using Compaore to stage wars in Africa. In this light, Robert Mugabe, Thabo Mbeki, Dadas Camara, Laurent Gbagbo and Thomas Sankara are true African icons

Allan Tembo, Chingola, Zambia:

This is a good forum. It should be recommended to go on and reach many people

Thomas Craig, Vancouver, Canada:

Regardless of making this a chart based on skin colour, why not include some of the builders and statesmen like Jan Smuts, Cecil Rhodes or Ian Smith?

Hamid Ahmed, Mubi, Nigeria:

My icon is the late Sir Ahmadu Bello (Sardauna of Sokoto) because he used his skills, time and knowledge to unite Nigerians

Precious Naturinda, Kabale, Uganda:

My icon is President Museveni of Uganda because he fought democracy for Ugandans

Paul Iregi Mwangi, Limuru, Kenya:

John Garang de Mabior. He brought peace to Sudan then passed away

Osman Ibrahim Osman, Accra, Ghana:

Dr Kwame Nkrumah is my icon, not only because he was a Ghanaian, but because his trail blazing legacy still lingers on in Ghana and Africa

 He is working hard to bring democracy to Cameroon
Babey, Stockholm, Sweden

Babey, Stockholm, Sweden:

Ni John Fru Ndi of the Social Democratic Front political party in Cameroon. He is working hard to bring democracy to Cameroon, a country that has had two presidents since independence some 50 years ago. He is objective, he has denied bribes and stands against corruption

Monychol Akop Deng, Mukono, Uganda:

Shaka Zulu is my African icon. He embodies African strength and courage. The first white men crawled under his feet

Wofa Yaw Frimpong, The Hague, The Netherlands:

There is no doubt that Kofi Annan contributed to making blacks around the world walk with an 'upright chest'. Though few understood him at the time, Kwame Nkrumah also did well by creating a sense of oneness and unity amongst blacks in the world. They are really icons for the black race

Sanphadeen Deen Dumbuya, Dakar, Sierra Leone:

My African icon is definitely Nelson Mandela and second on the list should be Barrack Obama

Richard Nsiah, Accra, Ghana:

John Kufour is my icon. He made Ghana a gateway to Africa

Kwame Aboagye, London, UK:

My list of my African icons: 1. Kwame Nkrumah 2. Patrice Lumumba 3. Sekou Toure 4. Robert Mugabe 5. Winnie Mandela 6. Charles Ssali 7. Chinwezu 8. Yaa Asantewaa 9. Nzingha 10. Hugh Masekela 11. Roger Milla 12. Ken Saro-Wiwa 13. Leopold Senghor 14. Nnamdi Azikiwe 15. Samora Machel 16. Thomas Sanakara 17. John Evans Atta Mills 18. Bantu Steve Biko 19. Chris Hani 20. Fela Kuti 21. Constance Cummings-John

Mignon Dush, Toronto, Canada:

Gaddafi and Mugabe are, without any doubt, African icons, principally because of their policies of self-respect and nationalism which I embrace very much

Ben Onni, Brisbane, Australia:

Robert Mugabe. He is a freedom fighter, like Steve Biko, John Garang and Nelson Mandela. His image is being tarnished by his enemies; those who don't believe in African saviours. If people can believe in Ian Smith, who commited the worst evil against the Rhodesians, why not love Mugabe?

Eno Omini, Calabar, Nigeria:

I have just got the wallposter of 50 African icons. How could the BBC have excluded M.K.O Abiola? He was an African philanthropist and business mogul. He became the political martyr of June 12 in Nigeria, upon which the foundation of the current democracy is built

Fahim Bakar Abba, Rome, Italy:

Nelson Mandela and Ismail Omar Gelle are my two African icons, because they became the pioneers of African people

Nazlin Kanji, Ventimiglia, Italy:

Jomo Kenyatta - he is a person that I feel has done a lot for tribalism, where we should learn to be one people, one country

Songolo Masiye, Choma, Zambia:

Paul Rusesabagina is my icon. He rescued many of his fellow Rwandan people during the 1994 genocide. George Weah won world, European and African awards in 1995

Steve Arasanyin, Mansfield, New Jersey, USA:

Africa and Nigeria's cultural history will not be complete without Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. He was an iconic legend of the African culture

Rashid, Monrovia, Liberia:

I think Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto'o should make up the list of Africa icons because they have represented the continent well and are now role models for many of our young athletes

 We would all look crazy if we forgot retired General Paul Kagame
Dr Aimable Rugomwa, Elfashir, Sudan

Dr Aimable Rugomwa, Elfashir, Sudan:

While still on that topic of African icons, we would all look crazy if we forgot retired General Paul Kagame, the only African leader who stopped the Rwandan genocide and has continued wiping its legacy and bloodbath conspiracy all over the world, while sacrificing his time, life and oppurtunity for sustained peace and development

Charles Farouk Oliver Lako Bashir, Juba, South Sudan:

John Garang, for the freedom he brought to South Sudan

Kalilu Totangi, Ottawa, Canada:

Steve Biko, Winnie Mandela and Bishop Tutu are my icons. They gave new meaning and direction to the struggles of the people of South Africa, at great personal risk and sacrifice. Steve Biko's astuteness and fortitude has always been exemplary and iconic for me

Hudson Katunga Hudykay, Lilongwe, Malawi:

Kwame Nkrumah

Davies Takaindisa, Harare, Zimbabwe:

My icon is Robert Mugabe, president of the republic of Zimbabwe

 All the African women who continue to bear the burden of raising African kids
Celestine Nke Fosung, Dover, Delaware, USA

Celestine Nke Fosung, Dover, Delaware, USA:

All the African women who continue to bear the burden of raising African kids while the men steal and plunder the resources. Because somebody somewhere is named secretary general of the UN doesn't make him an icon. Kofi Annan stood idly by while 1 million plus Rwandans were killed

Aseh Clive Amuh, Douala, Cameroon:

Madiba is the African icon of all times

Bernard Tetteh, Korle-Gonno, Ghana:

Kofi Annan is my icon

Unwana, Kumasi, Ghana:

Kwame Nkrumah led the path to independence for most African countries. However, Nelson Mandela is the true African icon. I have never seen a man so selfless

Wekem Raymond Avatim, Tamale, Ghana:

I agree with these names but rather think that a personality like Ghana and Africa's great soccer player, Abedi Pele, should be included. He has contributed a lot to promoting African football in the world and so should be included in the African icon list

Wellenskymoore Atem, Ibadan, Nigeria:

A good African man or woman, like Nelson Mandela

William Kokulo, Monrovia, Liberia:

Former world best, European best, African best, George Weah is an icon. The only African to reach that far and the only African to become world best

Wondim Woldeamanuel, Vancouver, Canada:

Names to be included in my opinion are:- Emperor Minilik of Ethiopia; Wangari Mathai of Kenya; Wole Soyinka of Nigeria; Ahmed Bembela; Jomo Kenyatta; Yidnekachew Tessema of Ethiopia; Abebe Bikilla of Ethiopia. As BBC is a Western media, I feel like it might not entertain names of prominent figures that embarassed colonizers as Africa's iconic figures, like Minilik, Bembela and so on. But as an African, we will always keep them in our heart hence a fight for freedom is always man's nature to survive with peace and equality

Woss A, Brussels, Belgium:

1. Minilik II 2. Abebe Bikila 3. Derartu Tulu 4. Haile Gebreselassie 5. Kofi Anan 6. Mohamed Elbaradei 7. N. Mandela 8. Yvonne Chaka Chaka 9. Eto'o 10. Okocha

Burhan Said, Boise, ID, USA:

My icon is Nelson Mandela, because he united his country after twenty seven years in prison and has made South Africa well respected in international communities

 Sir Seretse Khama of Botswana is one African leader who stands out for his wisdom and pragmatism
Jim, Perth, Australia

Jim, Perth, Australia:

Sir Seretse Khama of Botswana is one African leader who stands out for his wisdom and pragmatism. Instead of looting the country, as so many of his peers elsewhere in Africa did, he put Botswana on a sound economic footing

Alusine F. Baimba, Darby, USA:

Kmame Nkrumah is undoubtly one of the great African icons: his political ambitions were geared towards uniting the African continent under one common goal of letting the black man have a place in the world technologically, socially, economically and so on. By undermining his efforts and showing more tolerance to colonisers, Africa has been paying the cost of that tolerance. Africa is everything that Nkrumah never wanted it to be. Most importantly there is little place for Africans across the world with regards to superiority. RIP Nkrumah

Zakaria Alphons, Abakaliki, Nigeria:

My African icon is Patrice Lumumba. Even in the face of intimidation he never waivered. If leaders will die for the cause they believe in, Africa will be a better place to live in

Anwar Abdo, Alexandria, USA:

Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia is the icon for Ethiopian, African and black people in the world. I believe Abebe is more popular than Haile Selassie in Ethiopia

Ant, Nottingham, UK:

Where are: Chris Barnard: first heart transplant; Jan Smuts: politician; General Richard Goldstone: judge; Nadine Gordimer: author; Alan Paton: author of ' Cry the Beloved Country' and Helen Zille - the voice of sanity?

Albert Sinayobye, Lusaka, Zambia:

Victoire Ingabire from Rwanda for her zeal and abnegation to end impunity in Rwanda

Abebe lama, Dallas, USA:

Haile Selassie

 Anybody that can stop the atrocities happening in Sudan will be my icon
Shehu Abdullahi, Zaria, Nigeria

Shehu Abdullahi, Zaria, Nigeria:

We have seen a lot of icons in Africa, but I haven't seen a great icon. Anybody that can stop the atrocities happening in Sudan will be my icon

Sizwe Mkhabela, Nelspruit, South Africa:

Those people who accepted knighthoods should not be considered. De Klerk is not an African icon

Tei Anongor Doe, Accra, Ghana:

An African icon list without the mention of Apostle Kodwo Safo makes it incomplete

Tumiso Valentine Mathye, Johannesburg, South Africa:

My African icon is/was Lucky Dube

Alex, Paris, France:

People, don't you guys find it really strange that most of you mentioned personalities from your country of origin as African icons. There are not that many who influenced others,vertically. Think again and you will see the big ones: Mandela; Senghor; Tutu; Fela Kuti; Kofi Anna, and of course, some others

Akeen Pankon Tong, Aweil, Sudan:

Choosing Icons shouldn't be perceived with jealousy. These men and women have laboured to make Africa get respect for their own endeavors. Leave hatred behind and pursue a new era of Africanness

Rams, Wa-Nkadimeng, South Africa:

Being proud of the icons from the land of the cradle of our being, Africa, I fail to understand why Mamphela Ramphele did not make the cut. Perhaps it is because nobody nominated her or there are just too many icons that we have to do away with in order to compile a list of 50?? Also, I can’t see Rwandan President Paul Kagame on the list. But I hope, that they would make the list of 100 icons.

Steven Mwanandlwa, Nairobi, Kenya:

Haile Selassie, is the man I admire. You never get tired of his message and the power of his speeches.

Abu Mansalay, Collingdale, USA:

William V.S. Tubman is no doubt an African icon. He brought the indigenous community into the fold of Liberian politics. He placed interior provinces on a par with coastal counties. He connected the people of Liberia by building roads and bridges. He built schools in rural areas and he also constructed and equipped health centres in rural areas. His "Open Door Policy" provided a sanctuary home to many black people.

Nchimunya Haambote, Mambe, Zambia:

Clearly, people will favour their own leaders. But lets face it, all these names are great icons. But lets not forget the little known figures who selflessly gave everything they had for their country and family. Uncle Mainza Chona is my African icon

Nelson Ashurrah, New Orleans, USA:

When it comes to choosing icons many pick people they love from their countries. If peace is the main factor then I respect Olusengun Obasanjo for the way he handled the crisis in Bakassi and for mediating in many conflicts on our continent.

Sam Deng Malek Manyiel, Lankien, South Sudan:

Africa at large. Let fairness prevail in the selection of icons. Choosing my current or former president or anyone else from my neighbourhood doesn’t make any sense. Some of these men and women in the list are there for no good reason, other than being motivated by personal greed and preserving power. Stop interpreting their wrong deeds. Some of them have just started showing their real colours.

Kwame Boateng, Winnipeg, Canada:

Fela Kuti deserves to be on this list for the message behind his Afrobeat music which sought to alert Africans on the crimes being committed by the self-seeking African politicians. Queen Mother Nana Yaa Asantewaa of Asante, Ghana, ought to be on this list too for being the first African woman to lead an African army against the British colonization.

Wise Alubankudi, New York, USA:

Of course JJ Rawlings deserves a mention on this list, however Jay Jay Okocha brought lots of joy during the peak of his career. While Ibrahim Babadinga should be mentioned for bringing stability to Nigeria and the West Africa Sub-Region.

Christian Dedzo, Tema, Ghana:

JJ Rawlings, Kofi Annan and Kwame Nkrumah stand tall amongst prominent Ghanaians as iconic African figures.

Ahmad Jibreel, Georgia, USA:

An African icon in my opinion is one who has sacrificed his time, vision and life for sustainable peace, growth and for the betterment for his country and the world at large. One who has left footprints for reference is Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana - my choice - who declared that the independence of Ghana is meaningless unless linked with the liberation of the whole African continent. Without liberation, peace and vision, development is impossible, due to the exploitation of the occupiers.

Steele Fiona, Ormskirk, United Kingdom:

Kenneth Kaunda brought Zambia to independence with grace and courage

Andrew Amadi, Nairobi, Kenya:

Reading the list and comments, it is very evident that when given a choice, most Africans will choose 'their own'. The question is a continental one, yet most are claiming very local criteria for choosing their icons. Which is natural. Sadly the same trait trickles down to ethnocentric politics. I don't think Africa is homogeneous enough to have a single unifying personality as an icon. However, in my opinion, on a global stage, Nelson Mandela trumps all the others. At the height of apartheid "Free Nelson Mandela" was a unifying clarion call from Cape to Cairo, Mogadishu to Dakar. His post freedom period turned him into an international icon. Clearly Africa's dismal state is evidenced from the low cadre of personalities that constitute its supposed finest icons

Fola Aina, Abuja, Nigeria:

I think someone from the younger generation should be included, like Nigeria's anti-corruption czar, Nuhu Ribadu and Gaddafi shouldn't be on that list!

 My African icons are those who are there for peace
Alpha Amadou Jallow, Banjul, The Gambia

Alpha Amadou Jallow, Banjul, The Gambia:

My African icons are those who are there for peace and everything good for their people like Patrick Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah and Nelson Mandela, who sacrificed himself for the freedom of his people. I would also like to include Cellou Dalein Diallo for he is a man of peace and does not like to see his people being killed by armed men, when the army snatched away his victory from him and gave it to to Professor Alpha Conde

Geppetto Price, Cambridge, United Kingdom:

Lucky Dube is mine however you have failed to mention Brenda Fassie and Alpha Blondy

Corvah Duwor, Harper, Liberia:

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Sigbjorn Huso, Stavanger, Norway:

Thomas Sankara - no doubt

Liz Omondi, Kenya:

A controversial one, but worth nominating Muammar Gaddafi as an unequivocal and steadfast advocate for a united Africa

Olatunde Oladoja, New York, USA:

In my own opinion some very important names were not mentioned in the list, namely ex president Olusegun Obasanjo and Phillip Emegwali. These two icons have made an indelible mark in world conflict resolution, politics, peace-keeping, economic cooperation among African countries and also in the field of infotech. Emegwali is one of the people who invented what is know as the internet. I hope the next one will be more accurate than this one. Good compilation

 This list has no merit without Fela Anikulapo-Kuti
Gbola Ige, Chicago, USA

Gbola Ige, Chicago, USA:

This list has no merit without Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. He is my icon - so reprint!

Ivan, Kampala, Uganda:

Yoweri Museveni Of Uganda: He inherited a failed state and put it back on the road to recovery, curbed the HIV pandemic, expelled the LRA from Uganda - 'one of Africa's most feared rebel militias'. I could go on and on. He is definitely an African icon; his enduring popularity in Uganda is a testament to that

Mr. A.M., Washington, USA:

1. Menelik II because he stoped European colonism in Africa.
2. Emperor Haile Selassie and Mr. Nelson Mandela which made major contributions on their home soil

Edwin Phillips, Philadelphia, United States:

Speaking of icons of Africa, there are many that I can call upon, but just to name a few that played important role on the continent, I will include J J Rawlings for the role he played in helping to end the Liberian crisis, as well as President Olusegen Obasanjo. Also, I will consider Mr Nelson Mandela, and Steve Biko for their role in the liberation struggle of South Africa, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia is also an important icons for many African women, and women of the world. Also included will be Miriam Makeba, Kofi Annan,Bishop Desmond Tutu, Chinua Achebe, George Weah, Youssou N'Dour and Kwame Nkrumah

Kayihura, Calgary, Canada:

For contemporary icons, Paul Kagame would be my choice. He has forged a modern state out of the ashes of genocide, in 15 years. Whatever you think of him, you have to give him credit for that

Goitom, Arlington, Virginia, USA:Current day African leaders are so corrup and hungry for power. Zenawi of Ethiopia, Afeworki of Eritrea, Mugabe, Gaddafi, Musevi of Uganda and the list of tyrants goes on. My Heroes /icons include Mandela, Haile Selassie, Patrick Lubumba and Bishop Tutu

M. Michael Massaquoi, Seoul, Korea:

I believe Nelson Mandela is the man

 He dared to reduce his own salary as a president to pay for university students' demands
Eva Bright, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Eva Bright, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania:

Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere is a true African icon. He fought for liberation of Southern African countries. He was ready to sacrifice his own country's independence for the sake of other African independence. He lived a low, poor and ordinary life unlike many African leaders of his time and our time. He dared to reduce his own salary as a president to pay for university students' demands. He preached nothing but peace and unity. Today, Tanzanians are known to have one language, that is Swahili despite having more than 120 tribes; all this is because of this great man

Umeshi Mpahuwa, Lilongwe, Malawi:

Dr Bakili Muluzi of Malawi. He led the team that brought democracy to Malawi

Peter Olundu, Abuja, Nigeria:

I'm really disappointed that in the list of icons in Nigeria, the name Gani Fawehinmi did not come up. I do not know of any Nigerian dead or alive that has lived such a selfless and devoted life to the people as he did. He was a lion in the face of tyrany and oppression. Also people like Philip Emiaghali, Gabriel Oyinbo and Yusuf Jelani who had brought fame and recognition to Africa in areas of science and technology are noteworthy. Pastor Kayode Adelaja of Ukrain whose ministration among ukrainian people goes beyond spirituality is also an African icon

Eskinder Melaku, Ethiopia:

This list is incomplete without including Emperor Menilik of Ethiopia, who, for the first time, humiliated European invaders at the battle of Adwa and paved the way for the African strugle for independence. You should honor this man, whose shining victory inspired Africans to resist Europeans' desire to colonize Africa

Abdulmumin, Kaduna, Nigeria:

To me, I think it all depends on what we define an icon to be. Nelson Mandela definitely deserves to be on the list

Brima Sesay, Freetown, Sierra Leone:

Whoever was involved in selecting African icons was not aware of our great leaders, namely Dr Ernest Bai Koroma who is doing his best in building the country nationwide and Dr Tejan Kabba who did a smooth handing over to a democratically elected president

Manase Phiri, Chingola, Zambia:

Suprising that Africa's mobile telecommunications pioneer, Mo Ibrahim didn't make the list

Mishark Okoh, Abuja, Nigeria:

Robert Mugabe to me is more iconic than Nelson Mandela because of his belief in wealth/land redistribution

Gary Englund, Richmond, California, USA:

Princess Kasune Zulu who has brought awareness to HIV/AIDS. She just published her new book Warrior Princess, an incredible read. She was also instrumental in securing billions of dollars in aid for AIDS funding to Africa, during the Bush Presidency

Sam Gaye, Monrovia, Liberia:

Considering the role played by President William V.S. Tubman in the struggle for African Liberation along with Presidents Nkrumah and Toure, I would definitely place him in that race. George Weah and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf have set feats that none in their class have matched, they should also be there. My list will include: William V.S. Tubman, Kwame Nkrumah, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, George Weah, Nelson Mandela, and Olusegun Obasanjo for the role he played in restoring peace to many African nations in conflict

Ifeoma Maureen Obi, Accra, Ghana:

If there is one man whom I know very well deserved to be mentioned here, then it is Nelson Mandela. He is indeed an icon for his selfless effort in South Africa's apartheid era. He is a gentle giant and a true African

 The list in incomplete without the Malawian musician, Lucius Banda!
Stephen, Williamstown, MA, USA

Stephen, Williamstown, MA, USA:

The list in incomplete without the Malawian musician, Lucius Banda!

Enoch Owusu Koranteng, Accra, Ghana:

Dear BBC, there is no African icon apart from Kofi Annan. He has always been an instrument for peace for the world. Please, I humbly lean on you to have a very critical look at the face of him: truly a peacemaker, understanding, humble and an icon

Bryan Cambrice, Houston, USA:

Robert Mugabe is my African Icon!

 I think Nelson Mandela is a great guy, but isn't he over-rated?
Grace Mbonyiwe Phiri, Ndola, Zambia

Grace Mbonyiwe Phiri, Ndola, Zambia:

Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia. He fought so much for the liberation of countries like Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia and, of course South Africa. He made the liberation struggle a priority over Zambians. What a great neighbour and friend. Personally, I think Nelson Mandela is a great guy, but isn't he over-rated?

Sabiu Sani Alkantara, Port Harcourt, Nigeria:

Chinua Achebe: my reason is that he exhibited a good legacy against corrupt governments, unlike some professors, selling themselves to get favour in one way or the other

Jerome Kanyika, Lusaka, Zambia:

Kenneth Kaunda, for the peace he brought to Zambia, unity and helping the neighbouring countries to get independence

Nnamdi Sampson, Port Harcourt, Nigeria:

I think Lucky Dube should be celebrated as an icon because whatever your situation might be his music is there to solve it for Africans

Nohline Akinyi Ouma, Mombasa, Kenya:

1. Kofi Annan: "It's hardly two years in Kenya and each day I see my neighbours of different ethnicity; I remember you made my Prime Minister and President shake hands in public, as a symbol of peace. This will always remain in my mind. Thank you, for loving Kenya, we owe a lot to your mediation"

2. Patrick Lumumba: "The fight of corruption in Kenya has not been an easy path but your striving to ensure it's eliminated can be felt throughout the country. Indeed, you are man of justice"

Nii Adama Welbeck, Ghana:

I believe the only professor in boxing, Azumah Nelson should be an icon in Africa, for holding the WBC featherweight title for a decade and now training other boxers

 I would take out a few ex-presidents from your list who were or are at best mediocre
Ehui Adovor, Washington DC, USA

Ehui Adovor, Washington DC, USA:

I would take out a few ex-presidents from your list who were or are at best mediocre and add the following - Chimamanda Adichie; Mo Ibrahim and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Uzocchukwu Nwajiugo, Enugu, Nigeria:

I'm thinking, who has touched the life of almost all Africans? There is no one else in my mind apart from Fela Kuti. A true African till death, even though the drums of Afro beats have died down, the drums of eternity still echo the beat; so unique and truly African!

John Ndubueze, University of Nigeria, Nsukka:

To be an icon does not mean that one has to be spotless. Those controversial figures included have their merits too. Now, I suggest that Dr. Phillip Emeagwali of Nigeria be included in the list if only to save the face of science and technology. Again, what about retired Bishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria who opposed gay priesthood in Africa's Anglican Communion? Most Bishops would have given in to graft

Kimani Wa Njuguna, Gatundu South, Kenya:

Africans are funny. How can you ignore the fact that Kenya's founding father is an African icon considering that he was a Pan-Africanist whose contribution to African liberation is indisputable? And how can footballers like Didier Drogba, George Weah and Roger Milla be considered icons? The only thing they succeeded in perpetuating is modern slave trade by being sold like cattle from one European club to another at very high prices. How have they contributed to African soccer? If anything, I blame them for the sorry state of African football, for making our youngsters use all their time watching European leagues to see their 'stars' at the expense of developing our own home-grown soccer. It is shameful to see their pictures alongside African greats, like Nelson Mandela, who have sacrificed a lot for the sake of this continent. Indeed, if these are the people considered icons by our people, is it any wonder that Africans have become experts when it comes to electing mediocre leaders? And what criteria was used to leave out Abdul Nasser of Egypt?

 Looking at these 50 names, I see the good, the bad and the very ugly
Michael Ikoro, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Michael Ikoro, Port Harcourt, Nigeria:

Mother Africa, look at 50 of your children. Looking at these 50 names, I see the good, the bad and the very ugly. However, thank you mother Africa for blessing the world with men like Julius Nyerere, Kwame Nkrumah, above all the Madiba, Dr Nelson Mandela (my icon). Our men of honour, vision and integrity, they are an inspiration to millions of young Africans. Please BBC, remove corrupt politicians and those who sponsor terrorists from this list. They can never be African Icons

Musa Sidibey, Liberia:

Certainly Mr Kofi Annan is an African icon both for his personal achievement and the stature he has reached on the world scene. His overall achievement is an inspiration for young Africans to work hard for the good of humanity. I don't prefer either Gaddadi or Mugabe because they are controversial figures who are associated with conflicts in Africa. Period

Nhial Mabiei Moses, Juba, Sudan:

My African icon is Nelson Mandela. Muarmmer Gaddadi is not an icon because he has no quality of an icon. A truly iconic man is the man who likes to share leadership with his people, as Nelson Mandela did, when he liberated blacks and handed over power after a short period of time

Owusu-Boateng, London, United Kingdom:

John Kufuor of Ghana

Padington Chakabva, Nairobi, Kenya:

There are so many people who are icons in Africa, but to choose an icon is very decisive. What is the measure for example? Is it what they have achieved, as many of the listed icons are those who have either fought for independence in their countries, but is that the overall criteria for icon selection?. I have several icons in Africa; people who have made a difference, like Steve Biko, Nelson Mandela, Jomo Kenyatta (an anthropological writer), Tom Mboya, and of course Ngugi wa Thiongo among many others. These are men of outstanding characters

Shehu Ifon Ali, Abuja, Nigeria:

My African Icon is Ghani Fawhemi who spend his entire life fighting for freedom, democracy and good governance in Nigeria; Africa's most populous country and the world's most popular black country

Sylvester Massaquoi, Bo, Sierra Leone:

He was and will always be the icon of millions: Hilton Fyle, the Sierra Leonean, one-time BBC Network Africa presenter can surely not be left out! Take away Ketumile Masire please

Thomas Nambu, Colchester, United Kingdom:

JJ Rawlings is the man for keeping Ghana safe

Momodou Jallow, Tabokoto, Gambia:

Dr Jammeh is an African icon because he is the architecture of the university of the Gambia, which is fundamental for the path to development and freedom

Daniel Maina Wanjohi, Ngong, Kenya:

I think the icons are too composed of politicians, something that is not encouraging

 Mr Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia
Biniam Fikre, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Biniam Fikre, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:

Mr Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia

Abdul Wahab Alhassan, Tamale, Ghana:

JJ Rawllings is an African icon, he has led Ghana from military rule to a stable democracy; the best in Africa. This has made him an icon in democratic governance in Africa. Long live Rawlings, long live Ghana

Ahmad Bindawa, Kano, Nigeria:

I wish to make some comments concerning the 50 chosen icons in your October-December issue, whom I believe were selected to reflect the half century independence in Africa.

However, I don't want to believe that the BBC is oblivious of the fact that about 17 nations celebrated 50 years of independence this year, and that the BBC wish to select icons from 9 of those countries only, as if others (Togo, Madagascar, Niger, Chad, Congo, Mauritania, Gabon & Central African Republic), have no icons of their own/people worthy of being recognized. To make matters worst, an African, in the person of Eusebio da Silva Ferreira, who snubbed his country to play for the colonialist (Portugal), was selected

Finally, I think that Eusebio da Silva Ferreira should have been left out and those 8 countries represented

Jerry Tarwo, Abidjan, Ivory Coast:

Laurent Gbabo is an African icon because he instituted a multi-party system in the Ivory Coast. He gives freedom to all Ivorians participating in the on-going elections and most importantly he allows the on-going elections to be controlled by the independent election commision. Ah, Mr Gbabo, you are an African icon!

James Ondworo, Busia, Uganda:

Dr John Garang is my icon for having brought to the attention of Africans that it is our duty and obligation to liberate our countries. He lived an exemplary life worth emulating. Rest in peace

Alfonso Magagula, Manzini, Swaziland:

My icon is Mandela. He fought for the struggle and equality, although he wasn't alone. If you think of icons, do not make mention of terrorists posing as leaders such as Mugabe and Gaddaffi. They are hell-bent on self enrichment and leaving a trail of poverty behind them. We should not look at politics; rather at arts or sports

Peter John, Toronto, Canada:

You forgot about Dr John Garang who fought for 21 years for freedom and died in a plane crash after signing a peace deal for Southern and Northern Sudan

Everson Mwale, Nkhotakota, Malawi:

My African icon is Hastings Kamuzu Banda, the visionary leader who laid sound foundations for a peaceful and prosperous Malawi, despite all odds. It is a pity that those of us who call ourselves Malawians have failed to build on these foundations and have lost any real sense of purpose for our beautiful country, putting our ego's ahead of everything

 What moral, economic or social life did Fela have to teach us other than how to smoke Indian hemp and practise sexual immorality
Chris Nnadi, Enugu State, Nigeria

Chris Nnadi, Enugu State, Nigeria:

I was furious when I saw the picture of Fela Kuti in your collection of African icons. What moral, economic or social life did Fela have to teach us other than how to smoke Indian hemp and practise sexual immorality. However, I expected people like Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria, the world's youngest catholic bishop who was nominated to succeed pope John Paul II in 2005 to be there. Equally, the first Egyptian President, Gamel Abdel Nasser who was noted for his transparency and good governance, was also missing

Archie Orao, Nairobi, Kenya:

Tom Mboya (1930-1969) of Kenya is the greatest African of all time. At 39 when he was assasinated, he had already achieved what many would not achieve in their lifetimes. In his early 30s, he was already rubbing shoulders with the likes of Kwame Nkrumah and J F Kennedy

Arogundade Sherif, Nigeria:

Your choice of African icons is nice, except there are omissions like General Yakubu Gowon who fought to keep Nigeria as one; General Murtala Muhammed who supported the liberation of Southern African States, such as Angola; Captain Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso and General Nasir of Egypt who supported a lot of liberation movements in Africa

 I only recognize my mother
Silas Nyambok, Nairobi, Kenya

Silas Nyambok, Nairobi, Kenya:

The only way fairness would have been observed in trying to identify African icons was to request readers to propose icons from other countries and not their own. Otherwise I don't know what those people being fronted have done to my life. I only recognize my mother

Endalkachew Girma, Hawassa, Ethiopia:

You did it as well as you could, but you should not have missed out the progressive African leader, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi! He has a bright future in mind for Africa. I do not agree with some of your choices such as Drogba and Paul Tergat

 I vote for Kenneth David Kaunda, the former president of Zambia, for the unity he brought to the country
Eustace Mwansa, Lusaka, Zambia

Eustace Mwansa, Lusaka, Zambia:

I vote for Kenneth David Kaunda, the former president of Zambia, for the unity he brought to the country and the peace we are still enjoying today

Gameli Attipoe, Accra, Ghana:

I agree that it was tough coming out with a list of 50 African icons and after much heated debate. I can tell that was the first time in the history of your magazine we have had them displayed. Well congrats! In any case, I tried my luck at unraveling the puzzle and was able to identify some before jumping over to the answers. Good show, isn’t it? Nonetheless, there are other African icons who did not find their way on to the list such as Winnie Mandela, Azumah Nelson and Abedi Pele. Don’t rest on your oars to let us have them. But I’m still wondering whether we need rebels in the list of Africa’s great?

David Macharia Kimilili, Kenya:

I read your list of African icons with general agreement except that I feel you left out Alpha Blondy, Franco Makiadi and Chief Albert Luthuli.

Clement Wiah, Monrovia, Liberia:

I strongly object to the name of former Ivorian leader Felix Houphouet-Boigny on your list of African Icons. He was one of those African leaders who failed to make any democratic arrangement for a successor but chose to die in power, resulting in the current crisis in Ivory Coast today. Moreover, during his lifetime he allowed his country to be used by Charles Taylor to launch his civil war in my country. Please get him off the list

Ekayu Wilson, Soroti, Uganda:

I have had a good look at your 50 African icons and found that apart from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, no other African serving head of state has the stature and respect outside their borders. However Gaddafi is a controversial and divisive figure who does not deserve the accolade. I also suggest that the late Zulu King, Shaka, Jomo Kenyatta and the late Congolese musician, Franco, should be included in the final list

 if you are looking at the good, the dear Mr Nelson Mandela is undoubtfully the man
Jimmy Afema, Arua, Uganda

Jimmy Afema, Arua, Uganda:

When it comes to talking about an icon due to fame, it can be bad or good. But if you are looking at the good, the dear Mr Nelson Mandela is undoubtfully the man

Laura Golakeh, Monrovia, Liberia:

When it comes to identifying icons it is a personal thing because one man's icon wouldn't be another man's icon. My personal icons are all those who fought and gave their lives for the liberation and unity of Africa and those who continue to fight against violence, poverty, corruption, illiteracy and diseases in Africa. Without them we wouldn't be here today. Our past, present and future is owed to them. Naming them wouldn't do justice to all of them

 the continent has woefully failed in the areas of science and invention
Razak Mumuni, Accra, Ghana

Razak Mumuni, Accra, Ghana:

The fact that your list of fifty icons of the continent is so full of polticians, artists and sportsmen only shows that the continent has woefully failed in the areas of science and invention

Nana Tutu Yeboah, Accra, Ghana:

I was very surprised at the sight of Jerry Rawlings rated as an African icon. BBC, tell me your description of an icon: is a dictator an icon?

Mohamed Bailor Bah, Reading, USA:

Yaya Jameh is my icon. He is the president of The Gambia because of his tremendius achievements in Africa, within a limited time in power

Michael Aseke, Katsina, Nigeria:

I vote for President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Nigeria's 2011 president, by God's grace. If Obama can win the nobel peace prize, then Goodluck deserves it for peace and progress in Nigeria

Aku Shika Addo, Accra, Ghana:

Akon, Hakeem Olajuwon and Jomo Kenyatta definitely deserve a place

Afam Agana, Johannesburg, South Africa:

Agbani Darego, former Miss World, deserves a place on the list. If Drogba is on the list then Eto'o and George Weah should be there. Chimamanda Adichie should be there too.

Ronald Sirikale, Kabale, Uganda:

My African icon is Nelson Mandela who fought for freedom for a long time while in prison in the interest of Africans and not for his benefit. Nelson Mandela joined politics to end the policy of apartheid, not to get posh houses and personal jets like other African leaders who join politics for life. Nelson Mandela is an African icon because he did it and worked for it and it will take many years to get another Mandela in Africa. Long Live Mandela Nelson

 I was surprised that Hastings Kamuzu Banda of Malawi was not included in your chosen personalities
Robin Lyons, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, UK

Robin Lyons, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, UK:

I was surprised that Hastings Kamuzu Banda of Malawi was not included in your chosen personalities

Okechukwu Ifeduba, Nigeria:

I would like the BBC to include these names on the list:
Akon - musical legend
Agbani Derigo - former Miss World
T.B Joshua-Tele-Evangelist
M.K.O Abiola - Businessman/Philanthropist

These names should not be in the list:
Eusebio De Silva Ferreira
Djimon Hounsou

Humphrey Mensah, Worcester, USA:

John Agyekum Kufuor is my icon in Africa. He ruled without killing or torturing any human being, not even those who openly insulted and lied about him. By the way why Africa? Do you have 50 icons for Europe or America or Asia? Why is BBC always trying to insult African intelligence?

Godwin Isenyo, Kaduna, Northern Nigeria:

Going through the names of the African icons published in the current edition of your magazine, I was taken aback that of all the names listed, our own Gani Fawehinmi is conspicuously missing. I wonder about the criteria adopted for the selection of the icons

William Kokulo, Monrovia, Liberia:

I will vote that former Liberian Presidents William R. Tolbert and President Charles Taylor should be added to the list, as both icons brought some change to the young people of Liberia. Their regime was the age of young people gaining knowledge and employment opportunities

Bismark, Accra, Ghana:

In my own opinion, an African icon is someone who has, amidst all prejudice, upheld the recognition of human equality and the ethical primacy of every individual. Few African leaders have achieved much in this regard but ironically those mostly hailed and idolised are not necesarily worthy of such accolades. I think Festus Mogae and Mobutu Sese Seko are my obvious icons of Africa

 I am surprised that the name of Tafawa Balewa is not in the 50-man list
Abishai Gaiya, Jos, Nigeria

Abishai Gaiya, Jos, Nigeria:

Hello BBC, I must commend your efforts in coming up with the 50 African icons. I must say however, that I am surprised that the name of Tafawa Balewa is not in the 50-man list. To me, a man described as the golden voice of Africa surely deserves a place in the list. Remember, he is the first and the only prime minister Nigeria has ever had. He received the legal framework for Nigeria's independence from the Queen and not Azikiwe. His name should replace Djimon Hounsou of Benin

Latio Ramba, Khartoum, Sudan:

The Africans that I can vote for are those who cannot in any way be found guilty of causing human rights abuses or creating any rights abuses through the AU's activities. Currently the AU is only protecting African Presidents who promoted genocide in their countries

B. K. Pormorne Kuivi, Accra, Ghana:

Former President JJ Rawlings for his dedication and selflessness

 Given that Gaddafi has been included, why leave out Robert Mugabe?
Aniefiok Udonquak, Uyo, Nigeria

Aniefiok Udonquak, Uyo, Nigeria:

Having gone through the latest edition of your magazine, it is interesting to find that notable Africans have been identified as icons as a result of their contributions to the development of the continent.

While your efforts should be applauded, I cannot understand why a name like Muamma Gaddafi, Libyan leader should be included among African icons. Given that Gaddafi has been included, why leave out Robert Mugabe?

Again it is difficult to understand why Nigeria's foremost human rights campaigner, the late Gani Fawehinmi was left out. Also I feel Emeka Anyaku, former secretary general of the Commonwealth and Kanu Nwankwo who survived a heart surgery to return to his football career should have all been included.

Also while the inclusion of Nigerian novelist and poet Chinua Achebe cannot be disputed, it is incorrect to describe him as a nobel laureate. Nigeria's only noble laureate is Wole Soyinka.

Oyedemi, Lagos, Nigeria:

John Agyekum-Kufuor of Ghana. For his democratic rule of Ghana. He was very instrumental in the implementatation of the APRM. He stood for and worked for peace on the African continent.

Olivia Danso, Kumasi, Ghana:

There is no African icon apart from Nelson Mandela of South Africa. Kofi Annan has always been a puppet for the US and the West; Rawlings was a mean killer and thief; Nkrumah was a dictator and selfish; Drogba is arrogant and a bully and none of the names you published (apart from Mandela) has given anything positive towards emancipating the African region. Your staff who voted must be part of that African clique trying to paint good images of their 'favorites' who supported them in one way or the other.

Henry, Helsinki, Finland:

John Kufuor of Ghana is the best for his democracy and economic gains for his country and Africa. He marketed Africa well to the international world

 John Kufuor of Ghana is the best for his democracy and economic gains for his country and Africa. He marketed Africa well to the international world.
Henry, Helsinki, Finland

Adeniyi Adebayo, Nigeria:

The following names should be included:

1. Agbani Darego
2.Chioma Ajunwa
3. Samuel Peters
4. Kanu Nwankwo
5. Mike Adenuga
6. Chimamanda Adichie
7. Samuel Eto'o
8. Awilo Logonba
9. Dikembe Mutombo
10. Akeem Olajuwon
11. Olusoji Fasuba

These names ought not to be in your list:

1. Didier Dgogba
2. Ben Okri
3. Graca Machel

Josh Akpebu, Dagenham, UK:

JJ Rawlings of Ghana

Desire Ankah, Alexandria, USA:

I vote for President Rawlings for his dedication and devotion and selflessness.

Usman Santuraki, Garba, Yola, Nigeria:

The pictures that appeared on your icons of Africa greatly missed an icon in the person of Sir Ahmadu Bello, the premier of Northern Nigeria. This icon was behind the unity that existed in a diversified entity with about three hundred tribes living under one roof.

Sam Okore, London, UK:

It has to be Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. This great man of Africa was far ahead of his time. He was not selfish and gave the most important weapon to anyone who wanted to better him/herself - education.

Njoll Sowe, Farmington Hills, USA:

Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara of Gambia is an African icon. He led us to independence and upheld democratic principles and respect for people's rights and dignity.

Taban Asega Kamala, Moyo, Uganda:

Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa. He resigned and handed over office peacefully. I refer to his resignation speech regularly. It is a powerful statement. When you look at what is happening in Ivory Coast (2010), then you will know that Mbeki is an African icon.

Najeem Oyewumi, UK:

My African icon is the best president Nigeria never had - Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a detribalised individual whom from humble beginnings made himself what he was before his death. He liberated his people via free and qualitative education. He brought all the first institutions you can think of to Africa, i.e. radio and television stations. He was from Ikenne, a little town from Ogun state yet he never cited any of the institutions in his town. He introduced an efficient and effective tax system that compares with any tax system in the world. The list is endless until the cold hand of death snatched him away. Adieu Papa Awo.

Mumuh Njonjo, Naples, Italy:

Patrice Lumumba is my African icon because from simple beginnings this man wanted to create a peaceful country for all Congolese, where they could enjoy their God-given wealth. But the western nations led by the United States were so paranoid of him that they plotted for his death and more than 50 years after that, the Congolese nation has never known any peace and may never.

Francis Dede, Nembe, Nigeria:

An African icon should be selected based on their major contribution and sacrifice made for the progress of its own country and Africa at large.

Garmonyou Wilson, Monrovia, Liberia:

Why, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Not because she is the first woman head of state in Africa, or that she has gone through the ranks and files of political change in Africa, no, no, no. It’s because she is a leader, a forced to be reckoned with. Educator, near faultless and did I mention, a mother. Wow. Amazing woman.

Barimaba Osei Yaw Akoto, Kumasi, Ghana:

John Kufuor is my African icon. This is because of his immense contribution to the deepening of democracy in Ghana. An example is the manner in which he relinquished power to the opposition when his NPP party lost the 2008 election with the slimmest of margins in the political history of Africa (less than 50,000 votes). His efforts in bringing peace to Africa can never go unnoticed, for instance, the active role he played in the Kenyan and Ivorian crisis comes to mind. Economic gains in Ghana during his tenure are highly commendable. Out of office, he portrays the quintessential Africa statesman that’s worth emulating by all African leaders.

Kwame Nkrumah, Kofi Annan, Patrice Lumumba, Kenneth Kaunda, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Nelson Mandela also make my list of African icons.

Manguak Majuong Nguangnyin, Rumbek, South Sudan:

Nelson Mandela of South Africa. He is a man of peace in the history of Africa and he is also the only president in Africa which respects democracy.

Michael Koi-Larbi, Harlow, UK:

There are certain names on your list which are there because certain people want to wind Africans up otherwise how on earth did Jerry Rawlings get a mention?

Wany Nyok Nhial, Malakal, Southern Sudan:
I don't see the reasons which can make Gaddafi & Mugabe to be icons in Africa!! Mugabe deals only with his country’s affairs not Africa and Gaddafi is struggling to lobby and advocate for islamisation of all African countries instead of Africa united. The African icons are Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan and Thabo Mbeki.

Fobi Fusina, Douala, Cameroon:

Mandela's approach to leadership politics and democracy is one to emulate if we wish to move forward in Africa. This attitude of rigging elections and clinging to power is something we must depart from. I hope all future leaders look at how Mandela fought for his country, how he managed the victory and set an example we are yet to see in Africa.

Larry Tee, Connecticut, USA:

The list comes down to two people, one living the other dead and buried. Nelson Mandela and the late Kwame Nkrumah. All others come in the far distance. As a matter of fact some of the names I have seen suggest some people are "iconically" challenged!

Elshadai, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:

Emperor Haileselassie I is an African icon - he is the person behind the establishment of the African Union.

Ephraim Jimmie, Paynesville, Liberia:

Nelson Mandela is truly an African icon for me. He is a father of true democracy in Africa. I love him for it.

Joseph Osei Owusu, Freiberg, Germany:

Dear Africans, we should know that everyone can excel in his\her chosen field. However, an African Icon is someone who has made an indelible mark touching the lives of all Africans in general (from Cape to Cairo) beyond his chosen profession.

Going by that, my greatest icon will be Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who led the liberation of the entire African continent, including Ghana, Togo, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, Congo, even South Africa and many more. Not only did he fight for political freedom but also economic and social emancipation. As of 1958, he championed the formation of a common market, a central government and one Army, all to make the black men live a happy life. Nkrumah said the independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the African continent-This is an African statesman.

I think people are exaggerating Mr Mandela’s role in Africa. Apart from his selfless effort in South Africa's apartheid era, what has Nelson Mandela done to help the entire African continent? I will put Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Julius Nyerere, Patrick Lumumba , Olusegun Obasanjo, Kofi Annan, Thabo Mbeki, John Kufour and Robert Mugabe on my list. These people have always been an instrument for peace, economic corporations and social progress of the black race.

Michael, Washington,DC, USA:

Prof. Wole Soyinka is not only an African icon. He is an icon all over the world. The first African to have won the Noble Prize in Literature, very intelligent and a leader among leaders, Prof. Wole Soyinka is undeniably one of the most notable persons in this world.

Previous Forums:

* optional
Your opinion
focus on Africa graphic Focus on Africa
The magazine for Africa from the BBC World Service
covers Subscribe to the magazine
Click here for current rates and details of how to subscribe
Africa graphic BBC World Service Africa
your gateway to the best news audio and multimedia content
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Email a friend   Printable version