Brutal conditions in Africa have created some of the most brutal warlords of our time. There have been many African warlords who gained power through military might, and ruthless tactics. African warlords have committed some of the worst atrocities and human rights abuses of our time. In 2012 Joseph Kony became one of the most notorious men in the world, but he’s only one of the horrific warlords to have plagued the continent. This is a list of 10 bloodthirsty African warlords.


Idi Amin

Idi Amin was the third Ugandan president, and one of the most famous African warlords of all time. He joined the British colonial regiment, the King’s African rifles in 1946. Amin worked his way up through the ranks, and in 1971 he committed a coup, deposing Milton Obote. The coup took place while Obote was out of the country. While head of state Amin promoted himself to field marshal. Amin was one of the most brutal rulers in recent history, he committed countless human rights abuses, and it’s estimated that he’s responsible for the killing of up to half a million people. Eventually he was overthrown because of the Uganda-Tanzania war, and fled to exile in Lybia, and then to Saudi Arabia, where he died in 2003.


Joseph Kony

Joseph Kony is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. The LRA, is a guerilla group that operated in Uganda. Kony claims to be the messiah of the Holy Spirit Movement, and says he is visited by 13 spirits. Kony became famous for kidnapping children and forcing them to become child soldiers, and sex slaves. Because of him, 66,000 children became soldiers, and 2 million people were displaced. Kony was indicted for war crimes by the international Criminal Court in the Netherlands, but evaded capture. The LRA no longer operate in Uganda, but sources say they may be operating in other parts of Africa.


General Butt Naked


General Butt Naked fought under Liberian warlord Roosevelt Johnson. Butt Naked was a mercenary hired by Johnson. Butt Naked led a group of drunken teenage boys, who fought naked, or in women’s clothing because they thought it would mean bullets couldn’t harm them. Butt Naked became known for his brutal violence during the First Liberian Civil War. His real name was Joshua Blahyi and he would often sacrifice victims before going into battle, he said “Usually it was a small child, someone whose fresh blood would satisfy the devil.”He also said that sometimes he would dive underwater, capture children who were playing, and break their necks. Blahyi is now one of the most infamous African warlords in the world.


Jean-Bedel Bokassa “The Butcher of Bangui”

Bokassa was head of state of the Central African Republic and it’s successor state, the central African Empire after his Coup d’etat in 1966. He ruled for a total of 11 years, before being overthrown in another coup. Bokassa worked his way up to the rank of captain, and when his cousin became the new president he was asked to head the armed forces. Bokassa then ousted his cousin and became president himself. He took all of the most important government positions, and eventually declared himself emperor. He almost bankrupted the country with his coronation ceremony, and massacred hundreds of school children because they wouldn’t buy clothes from his wife’s company.


Robert Mugabe

Mugabe became president of Zimbabwe in 1987, and and is still serving today. Over his 36 years in power he has committed many human rights violations, and is considered a dictator by much of the world. Multiple human rights organisations have accused Zimbabwe of violating the human rights of it’s citizens, including freedom of movement, protection of the law, and freedom of assembly. There are reports that Zimbabwean police act above the law, destroying property, mugging and assaulting members of the public. A journalist who sent pictures of police beatings to foreign media was captured and murdered only two days later.


Sani Abacha

Like other African Warlords Abacha started off in the military, and quickly rose through the ranks. Abacha served as de facto president of Nigeria for 5 years, after taking power in 1993. In 1994 he issued a decree which gave him absolute power. Abacha promised democracy, but never delivered. He banned political activity, dismissed large portions of the military, and didn’t allow a free press. Abacha jails critics, and activists for treason, and his human rights abuses have outraged people all over the world. In 1998 Abacha announced that elections would be held in August, and would hand over power to a civilian government. He used dishonest methods to get all the parties to endorse him as president. That same year he mysteriously, and suddenly died. There was no autopsy, and some people believe he was assassinated by prostitutes.


Charles Taylor

Charles Taylor is a warlord who was the 22 president of Liberia. He served for 6 years and then resigned. Taylor earned his degree at a college in the US. He then returned to Liberia, worked for the government and got kicked out for embezzlement. He was trained as a guerilla fighter in Lybia, and then returned to Liberia as the head of a group of Rebels. He initiated the First Liberian Civil War, and became one of the most feared African warlords of the time. After the war ended he was elected president in 1997. During the election he ran on the slogan “He killed my ma, he killed my pa, but I will vote for him”.


Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir

Omar started off in the army, quickly rose through the ranks, and eventually initiated a coup which overthrew the current government and put him in charge. Since then he has won three elections, which are suspected of being corrupt. In 2009 he was indicted for the mass killing, mass rape, and pillaging of the civilians of Darfur. He oversaw the War in Darfur which caused between 200,000 and 400,000 deaths. The war has displaced millions of people and led to terrible diplomatic relations between Sudan and Chad.


Bosco Ntaganda

Also known as the “The Terminator”, or “Terminator Tango”. He’s a bloodthirsty warlord who recruited, and conscripted child soldiers during a war. On 22 March he was taken into custody by the International Criminal Court. He surrendered in 2013, and is now facing 50 years in prison, in the UK. In 2008 he led a team responsible for massacring 150 people. It’s impossible to say exactly why he surrendered but people have speculated that he did it to avoid infighting with the M23 movement.


Muammar Gaddafi

African warlords gaddafi_with_yasser_arafat_1977

Gaddafi took control of the Lybian government in 1969, and acted as a dictator for the next four decades. Gadaffi was the son of a goat herder. He enrolled at the Royal Military Academy, Benghazi, and founded a revolutionary cell while in the military. In a bloodless coup he managed to take power from King Idris, and established a republic. He introduced sharia law, and nationalised the oil industry. He’s one of the longest ruling African warlords on this list. He’s been accused of giving his soldiers Viagra to encourage them to rape women during the war. Under his rule Libya stockpiled chemical weapons, and aided terrorists all over the world.

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