Influential People From West Africa

Contributor: Tara Ondra. Lesson ID: 13294

We can learn a lot about the world by studying its people. Meet a football (soccer) player, a revolutionary, and an author from West Africa who have influenced their countries and the world!


World, World Cultures

Social Studies
learning style
personality style
Beaver, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Think of someone who is or was influential.

  • In your eyes, what made that person influential or important?
  • What are that person's characteristics?

Maybe you came up with some of the following traits.

  • ⇒ creates clear objectives or goals
  • ⇒ listens
  • ⇒ takes action
  • ⇒ is constantly learning
  • ⇒ is trustworthy and honest
  • ⇒ makes connections with people around them
  • ⇒ is passionate
  • ⇒ values others

Many influential people worldwide are important for different reasons. Learn about an influential political leader, author, and athlete from West Africa.

Before learning about these important individuals, take a broad look at the continent they call home: Africa.

Read each of the statements below and decide if you think they are true about Africa or false.

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  • How'd you do?

Africa is a huge continent consisting of 54 countries where people speak over 3,000 languages.

map of Africa

This lesson will focus on three influential people who come from the region of West Africa, specifically Liberia, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria.

Find and click on Liberia to discover who you will learn about first.

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George Weah became an influential person in Liberia for politics and sports. That's right; he is both a professional football (soccer) player and President.

Weah was a striker in football clubs for over 14 years. He started in Liberia and later played in Europe, including Paris Saint-Germain, where he was a top scorer, and Milan, where he played for four seasons.

At the height of his football career in 1995, he was named African, European, and World Player of the Year.

After retiring from football, Weah turned to politics. He served first as Senator and then, beginning in 2018, as the 25th President of Liberia.

Watch the video below to see Weah in action.

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On to Burkina Faso. Click on this country to meet the next individual.

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Thomas Sankara was a revolutionary who served many years in the military before leading Burkina Faso as President from 1983 to 1987.

He became President at age 33 and changed the country's name from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso.

Sankara fought to transform Burkina Faso from a poor country dependent on foreign aid to an economically independent and socially progressive nation. He believed in self-sufficiency and promoted health care, education, and land reform.

Sankara was assassinated in 1987.

Learn more as you watch the video below.

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And finally, locate Nigeria on the map.

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Chinua Achebe is the author of the most widely read book in African literature, Things Fall Apart. He is often referred to as the father of African literature.

Achebe was born in 1930 in eastern Nigeria. He was a member of the Igbo ethnic group, and many of his novels feature the realities of this group.

In addition to his work as an author, Achebe was a professor at several universities in Nigeria and the United States. He died in 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Watch the following video about Achebe to learn more.

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Now, head over to the Got It? section to review what you've learned.

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