Famous People Born in Africa

African continent has been the birthplace for many individuals who have made it to the top in their respective fields. Let's look at the life of some of the famous people born in Africa.
Africa, the second-most populated continent in the world, has produced individuals who have excelled in diverse fields, ranging from politics to sports. Over a period of time, Africans have spread all over the world but they still trace their roots to their birthplace. Here are some famous people born in Africa.

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela was the first President of South Africa to be elected by a democratic representation. He held office from May 10, 1994 to June 14, 1999. Born on July 18, 1918 as Rolihlahla, he was named 'Nelson' by his school teacher, Miss Mdingane. He was the first member of his family to attend school. After completing his basic education, Nelson joined the University College of Fort Hare to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Arts. He was very active in student politics. He participated in a protest, as a result of which, he was suspended from the institute. He went to Johannesburg, where he completed his studies through correspondence. After graduation, Nelson started studying LLB. In 1942, after finishing his LLB studies, he joined the African National Congress. He played an active role in the Anti-apartheid movement. In 1960, he proposed a military arm for ANC, which led to formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe. His anti-apartheid stand landed him in prison on July 12, 1964. After being in prison for 27 years, he was finally released on February 11, 1990. In 1991, Nelson Mandela was elected as the first President of African National Congress. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his valuable contribution to the African nation.

Omar Sharif
Omar Sharif is an Egyptian actor, who has worked in numerous Egyptian, French and English films. He was born to Claire and Joseph Chalhoub on April 10, 1932 as Michel Demitri Chalhoub, in Alexandria, Egypt. Sharif graduated from Victoria College in Alexandria, and went on to earn a degree in Mathematics from Cairo University. He started his acting career in 1953, with an Egyptian film named Sira Fi al-Wadi. In 1955, he took the name Omar al-Sharif after converting to Islam and married the Egyptian actress Faten Hamama. After a few more Egyptian films, he made his debut in Hollywood with the 1962 film, Lawrence of Arabia. His portrayal of the character, Sheriff Ali, won him a Golden Globe Award for the Best Supporting Actor. His other notable films were Dr Zhivago and Funny Girl. Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran, in 2003, was his first French film. In November 2005, Omar Sharif was awarded a medal by the UNESCO for his significant contribution to films and cultural diversity.

Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron is an African-American actress and a former model. She was born on August 7, 1975 in Benoni, South Africa. Charlize spent the initial 15 years of her life in Benoni, before moving to Milan, Italy for a one-year modeling contract that she had won at a local competition. After her contract ended, she stayed back and joined ballet dancing classes. But a knee injury shattered all her hopes of becoming a dancer. After a small role in a 1993 film, 'Children of the Corn III', Charlize got many opportunities to showcase her talent. She rose to fame with movies like 'Mighty Joe Young', 'The Devils Advocate' and 'Two Days in the Valley'. She became the first African to win an Academy Award, when she won the Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal of the character Aileen Wuornos in 2003 flick 'Monster'.

Kevin Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen is an English cricketer, whose roots can be traced to the African continent. He was born on June 27, 1980 in Pietermaritzburg, Natal in South Africa. Born to an English mother and Afrikaner father, Kevin was one of the four siblings in the family. In 1997, he made his first class debut for Natal's 'B' team at the age of 17. Soon after, he moved to England, disappointed with the racial quota system in South African cricket. His mother's English nationality did help him in this migration but he still had to wait and play county cricket in England for four years, before making his debut at the one day internationals in 2004. His test debut was soon to follow. Pietersen made the most of this opportunity and, very soon, became the third English cricketer to reach the number one position in ICC rankings.

These were just a few of the long list of individuals, who have carved for themselves, a niche in society, against all odds. This was possible only due to their sheer determination, courage and creativity.
By Abhijit Naik
Last Updated: 9/23/2011
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