12 world leaders who grew from nothing into prominence

Today, I decided to compile a list of inspiring leaders, some were Presidents of their countries, others simply excelled in their chosen fields.

When I think of world leaders who share a common trait of humble background, these great men come to mind. They all rose from the bottom to the apogee height of their fields.

This goes to show that the odds actually do favor children of commoners to go on and achieve greatness. The list is released to inspire children and youths especially. Whatever your present condition, you can overcome as Martin Luther King jr. did!


1. Nelson Mandela grew up in a hut in Transkei village. Struggled for everything from his education to life under apartheid & jail time.
Known worldwide today as the greatest African of the 20th century!

2. Abraham Lincoln grew up in a farmhouse, raised by an unpredictable mother battled from one failure to another.
He’s arguably the most popular/influential American President ever.

3. James Garfield grew up in a log cabin From log cabin to the White House! His life and death bares similarities with Lincoln’s.

4. Goodluck Jonathan grew up in Otuoke village (with no shoes, don’t forget). Rising from a series of miraculous events, he became Nigeria’s President at a very critical time.

5. Barack Obama grew up in Kenya and Indonesia. He became the first American President of African descent.
From Africa to the world!

6. Obafemi Awolowo grew up in a farm. His father insisted he must go to school, ‘Awo’ simply loved farm life.
He later became one of the founding fathers of Nigeria, one of our greatest political leaders.
Originator of free education in old western region, politician par excellence, a sage of huge mental acumen. He’s my personal hero.

7. Mahatma Gandhi grew up in Porbandar, India. Married at 13 and extremely poor, his brother & family contributed to his trip to England for education.
He became India’s greatest ever leader and inspired Martin Luther King’s movement in USA several years later.

8. Nnamdi Azikwe grew up in Zungeru, Northern Nigeria. His father sent him to USA with all his life-savings & pension.
Nnamdi Azikwe became a god among men, probably the greatest intellectual leader Nigeria has ever had.
He flouted the first modern newspaper in Africa!

9. Martin Luther King Jr., raised in Atlanta in a conservative christian home, during America’s Great Depression.
Struggled through segregation in an unjust system, he became one of the greatest world leaders, leading African-Americans to attaining freedom and equal rights in USA.

10. Ben Carson, raised by an illiterate single mom in the Baltimore projects. He overcame failures and anger to become the greatest neuro-surgeon the world has ever seen.

11. Frederick Douglas used to be a slave but he became an abolitionist, writer or repute, prominent politician and statesman.
He taught himself how to read and became a famous orator. The first African American (several years before Jesse Jackson or Obama) to be nominated for Vice-President of USA.
The most influential African-American of the 19th century.

12. Booker T. Washington was born into slavery, extremely poor & struggled to attend school.
His life and leadership has inspired people all over the world.
He was a voice for the voiceless when African-Americans were segregated in America.

*You too can succeed like these great men. Keep doing what you do.

It’s a personal thing. Do you have a name you feel should make the list? You’re free to drop your own additions in the comment box. I’d probably draw another list in the future.


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