Top Ten dictators of Africa

Does Africa still have dictators? Find out now, learn who they are and where they rule.

Dictators can be found in many parts of the world. Presently there are over 30 dictators ruling, but almost half of them are located in Africa. More precisely, currently there are 14 effective African dictators. Some of them rule for quite long periods of time. In addition to the list of the top ten dictators of Africa of all time, you can find some fascinating details on dictators in general. Here are some interesting facts about Africa and its dictators:
Top Ten dictators of Africa

  • Amazingly, but Africa has at least 10 dictators, who ruled their countries for over or almost 30 years in a row
  • dictators of AfricaThe longest ruling dictator of Africa is Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo from Equatorial Guinea (35 + years)
  • During his rule Guinea has one of the highest national per capita GDP with one of the lowest levels of life for people
  • Some dictators claimed they had extraordinary abilities or mystical powers in their possession
  •  African dictators At times dictators banned the activities they did not like, for instance, fishing
  • Others would put to jail people with foreign names or do not let TV folks call by name anyone, but themselves
  • Most dictators attached some extravagant titles to their names, such as Kings of Life or creators of Universe

READ ALSO: Top ten richest women in Africa

10. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo

Ruling: 1979-

Country: Equatorial Guinea

This is the winner on our list of the longest ruling dictators in Africa. He has occupied the top position in the country for over 35 years. Teodoro replaced his uncle, who terrorized the country for 11 years. It seems like his ruling is less cruel than that of his relative.

Over the last years the country managed to attain the highest level of GDP per capita. At this, the majority of people are still living in extreme poverty.

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo

9. Robert Mugabe

Ruling: 1987-

Country: Zimbabwe

As some others on our list of Top Ten dictators of Africa this dictator was elected by Zimbabwean people. As it often times happens former heroes turn into dictators. Even though the first election was fair, the majority of the consequent ones were not. He has been reelected over and over again.

Mugabe has managed to do much good for the black population. He has opened new schools and achieved significant growth in agricultural and industrial sectors. He was mostly accused of being racist towards the white people in his country.   

Robert Mugabe

8. Sani Abacha

Ruling: 1993-1998

Country: Nigeria

Nigeria is lucky enough to have a pretty short period of dictators’ ruling. Along with the military juntas of the 60ss and 70ss, Sani Abacha is one of the few cruel rules in power. Colonel Abacha held in terror not only his political opponents, but the entire country as well.

His has imprisoned and murdered Moshood Abiola, who won the fair election and later on murdered his wife. He has installed quick and terrorizing regime in the country and was accused of breaking human rights and bereft people of their right to elect, right to possess the land and of money.

His rule was marked by high level of corruption and he has made his family extremely wealthy. At this, somehow he managed to significantly reduce Nigeria’s external debt and magnificently grow its foreign exchange reserves.

Sani Abacha

7. Said Barre

Ruling: 1969-1991

Country: Somalia

Here is another lasting ruler in Africa. He came into his power through a military coup; although, unlike many other coups, this one was a bloodless one. 22 years of his rule were marked by numerous transgressions against the human rights. People were taken to prisons, kept there with no trial, raped, tortured, etc.

Large portions of population were restricted in their ability to move from place to place. All the political opponents of the ruler got persecuted and murdered. Such crimes prevented the attempt of Barre to obtain help and support of the US government.

Said Barre

6. Charles Taylor

Ruling: 1997-2003

Country: Liberia

This ruler is widely known for abusing the power entrusted to him. He was selling guns in exchange for “blood” diamonds. In 2012 he was sentenced to 50 years of prison. He was also accused of committing crimes against humanity leading to multiple human deaths.

Charles Taylor

5. Omar al-Bashir

Rulign: 1989-2009

Country: Sudan

As a matter of fact, this dictator has been elected by the people and thrice occupied the presidential post of the country. During his rule several wars and military conflicts have taken place with over 400 thousand people killed in them.

This politician planned and carried out genocide against certain ethnic parts of the Sudan population, such as Zagwaga. In 2009 he was arrested and put to trial for creating various crimes against humanity. He has stolen huge sums of money from the country (over 6 billion US dollars), which were later on found on his bank accounts.

Omar al-Bashir

4. Hissene Habre

Ruling: 1982-1990

Country: Chad

Some men manage to do more in just 8 years in power than others in 30 something years. This dictator’s rule was short, but he managed to do much harm to his nation. With over 40+ thousand people killed and systematic torture he got high up on our list of top ten dictators of Africa.

He has established a unit called DDS. It worked as his personal Gestapo. They could shoot, lock up or torture people or kill entire families. They had the absolute power over people, their lives and bodies.

Former prisoners and survivors of this “godlike” ruling man have decided to go for justice. They collected proofs and opened a case against the dictator. It took them almost 20 years to get Hissene to court. 2015 would be the year when this dictator goes to trial for all he has committed. It is attained by the strong will and undesired to give up of his former victims.

Hissene Habre

3. Mobutu Sese Seko

Ruling: 1965-1997

Country: Kongo

It’s another one of the record-breaking dictators, who ruled over 32 years. Colonel Mobutu came to rule Kongo after the coup, which he called to be a peaceful revolution. Many locals have supported him in the attempt to stop the shedding of blood caused by political instability.

He has promised to stop elections for 5 years, but after coming to power has become the only absolute source of power in the state. He changed the country’s name to Zaire. During his rule his political party was the only legal force there. He personally and his comrades managed to accumulate riches, while the whole nation and its economy broke to pieces. He severely violated the human rights of Kongo population and pressed many people out of the land.

Mobutu Sese Seko

2. Francisco Macías Nguema
Ruling: 1968-1979

Country: Equatorial Guinea
This dictator arose in small country. Presently its population amounts to two million people. Nonetheless, this person deserves to be called one of the oddest and bloodiest rulers of Africa. His rule was short, but he managed to kill or press out of the country ¼ of its inhabitants.

Moreover, he has ruined the educational and economic systems of the state. For some reason he strongly disliked the word “intellectual” and “fishing”. He banned fishing and ordered to annihilate all the boats in the country. It is a severe blow to the economics of a sea shore people.

He also uprooted all the schools and persecuted such professions, as doctors, lawyers, bankers, teachers, etc. This country still carries on negative consequences of his rule and his family member remains the head of the state. It is his nephew and the longest ruling dictator of Africa - Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

One reason he persecuted and murdered so many people was his vengeance. In the young years of life his tribe was oppressed by the Bubis tribe. So, when he grew up and gained power, he extinguished over 40 thousand people belonging to the Bubis tribe to vindicate them for his childhood offenses.

Francisco Macías Nguema

1.  Idi Amin Dada

Ruling: 1971-1979

Country: Uganda
Idid Amin can rightfully be considered the worst dictator of Africa. His rule was rather short but devastating. He started small coming from a faraway Kakwa tribe renowned for its mighty and cruel warriors.

He was enrolled into the army and attained there great success. He could not write or ready, but he surely knew how to kill. Idi Amin was extremely tall and strong man. At the first glance he seemed to be just a comedian, but this mask covered up his sharp mind and malice.

After coming to power in 1971 he started methodically annihilate all the followers or supporters of the past regime. He has murdered men, women and children of several tribes, which did not approve of his rule. Overall during the 8 year rule he managed to murder over 300 000 people.

His actions have destroyed Uganda’s prosperity and economical system. His attempt to payback the British for the lack of support led to sending thousands of Indian out of Uganda and giving away their banks, stores and other businesses. Most people who took them over had no idea how to run a business and state’s economy was given a severe blow.

Idi Amin Dada

The majority of these rulers on our Top Ten dictators of Africa have something in common. In the history of Africa they have started as heroes or positive personages. However, they all have finished suppressing human rights of citizens under their dominion. No one is capable of becoming the ultimate solution for another person or for a country. We all need other people to create fulfilling and just life. 


I think the dictators in the country is not so bad. But when they only work for the good and prosperity of their country. The text contains interesting information about dictators. In my opinion, if the country's GDP high poverty does not have to be. It is necessary to create conditions for the poorest to improve their standard of living. And best of all would be if made equal. And in monetary terms and in rights. Somehow one give more rights and freedoms as others had. And education should be free throughout the world.

Answered 2 years ago.
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