The Top 10 Most Educated African Presidents, Nigeria’s President Didn’t Make the List

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Viewing leadership as an expression of responsible citizenship goes back to Plato and Aristotle. For Plato, a major concern is the possibility that leadership could degenerate if the leader does not separate his personal interests from the welfare of those he governs. In addition, intelligence is central to the Platonic view of leadership, so the idea that more educated citizens could be better leaders would come as no surprise.

1. Robert Mugabe

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Qualified as a teacher.Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Fort Hare.He then studied at the University of Oxford in 1952, Salisbury (1953), Gwelo (1954), and Tanzania (1955–1957). Mugabe subsequently earned six further degrees through distance learning.

These include a Bachelor of Administration and Bachelor of Education from the University of South Africa and a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Laws, Master of Science, and Master of Laws, all from the University of London External Programme. The two Law degrees were taken whilst he was in prison, whilst the Master of Science degree was taken during his premiership of Zimbabwe.

2. King Mohammed VI – Morocco

Morocco's King Mohammed VI speaks beside his son Crown Prince Moulay Hassan III and his brother Moulay Rachid, in Tangier

He attended the Qur’anic school at the Royal Palace where he learned the Qur’an by heart, and received a religious and traditional education. Primary and secondary studies at the Royal College
B.A in law at the College of law of the Mohammed V University, Rabat.
Certificat d’Études Supérieures (CES) in political sciences & Diplôme d’Études Approfondies DEA in public law.
Trained in Brussels with Jacques Delors, then President of the European Commission
Doctorate in law (PhD) with “Very Honorable” distinction and the Congratulations of the Jury on 29 October 1993 from the French University of Nice Sophia Antipolis for his thesis on “EEC-Maghreb Relations.”

3. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – Liberia

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From 1948 to 55 Ellen Johnson studied accounts and economics at the College of West Africa in Monrovia. After marriage at the age of 17 to James Sirleaf, she travelled to America (in 1961) and continued her studies, achieving a degree from the University of Colorado. From 1969 to 71 she read economics at Harvard, gaining a masters degree in public administration. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf then returned to Liberia and began working in William Tolbert’s (True Whig Party) government.

A Start in Politics
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf served as Minister of Finance from 1972 to 73, but left after a disagreement over public spending. As the 70s progressed, life under Liberia’s one-party state became more polarised – to the benefit of the Americo-Liberian elite. On 12 April 1980 Master Sergeant Samuel Kayon Doe, a member of the indigenous Krahn ethnic group, seized power in a military coup and President William Tolbert was executed along with several members of his cabinet by firing squad.

Life under Samuel Doe
With the People’s Redemption Council now in power, Samuel Doe began a purge of government. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf narrowly escaped – choosing exile in Kenya. From 1983 to 85 she served as Director of Citibank in Nairobi, but when Samuel Doe declared himself president of the Republic in 1984 and unbanned political parties, she decided to return. During the 1985 elections Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf campaigned against Doe, and was placed under house arrest.

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An Economist’s Life in Exile
Sentenced to ten years in prison, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf spent just a short time incarcerated, before being allowed to leave the country once again as an exile. During the 1980s she served as Vice President of both the African Regional Office of Citibank, in Nairobi, and of (HSCB) Equator Bank, in Washington. Back in Liberia civil unrest erupted once more. On 9 September 1990, Samuel Doe was killed by a splinter group fromCharles Taylor‘s National Patriotic Front of Liberia.

4. President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé – Togo

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Born in Afagnan in Lacs Prefecture, Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé was one of Gnassingbé Eyadéma’s many children; his mother was Séna Sabine Mensah. Gnassingbé received his secondary education in Lomé. He then studied in Paris and obtained Master of Business Admnistration degree from The George Washington University, USA.
He was a deputy to the National Assembly of Togo for Blitta, coordinator of the commission in charge of privatization and served as Minister of Mines and Telecommunications from July 29, 2003 to February 2005. He has a reputation of a skilled politician. Since coming to power, he has been working tirelessly to reconcile Togolese politicians and revive the relations with European Union. He has 8 kids from different women.

5. President José Eduardo dos Santos – Angola

José Eduardo dos Santos

He was awarded a scholarship in 1963 to study in the Soviet Union where he received a degree in petroleum engineering. Upon graduation in 1969, he stayed in the Soviet Union to continue his studies in Communications.

Jose Eduardo dos Santos

  • Born in 1942, at the age of 19 he joined the MPLA’s guerrilla army fighting for independence from Portugal
  • Studied oil engineering in the former USSR, now Azerbaijan
  • Became president in 1979, when the country’s first leader, Agostinho Neto, died
  • Married to former air hostess Ana Paula dos Santos, with whom he has several children
  • He also has a number of other children who are high-profile figures in Angolan business and media circles
  • His eldest daughter Isabel dos Santos is an influential businesswoman in Portugal

In power for 33 years, despite having never been formally elected, Angola’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos is Africa’s second-longest serving head of state – trailing Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo by just one month.

At home he has a firm grip on all aspects of government, is the head of the armed forces and responsible for appointing senior judges.

Overseas, as president of one of Africa’s major oil producers he has positioned himself as a regional wise man, receiving weekly visits from various African leaders, and has developed strong links with China, as well as Brazil and the United States.

The 70 year old is never criticised by the country’s state media organs, and the remaining few private newspapers that have not been bought up by government ministers and which dare challenge his actions are hit with lawsuits.

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