From the "medieval" period - the great West African Islamic states:
Sundiata (or Mari Jata) r c. 1230-1255
(His early story is part legend, with "lion king" elements - the return of the exiled son to avenge his father's death, etc.. But he conquered the bulk of the territory in the empire by the time of his death.)
Mansa Kankan Musa 1312 - 1327
He of the 1324 pilgrimage to Mecca fame whose wealth depressed Egyptian gold prices after his visit and earned him a spot on French king Charles V's 'Catalan Atlas'
Sunni Ali 1468 - 1492
Brilliant, brutal ruler of the Songhai empire which succeeded the Mali
Askia Muhammad 1493? - 1528
Conqueror, but he was more proud of being amasser of the libraries of Timbuktu and Jenne and promoter of trade. He was deposed by his son, and subsequent in-fighting brought decline until the Moroccans arrived in 1591.
Hopefully, I can add more as I get further along in the books...
Senusret I - Invaded northern Nubia and normalized trade with Syria and Palestine
Thutmose III - Conquered many cities in the Levant, built temple of Karnak
Shabaka - Consolidated Nubian rule over Egypt and kept the Assyrians at bay
Malik Ambar - Siddi founder of the city of Aurangabad in the Deccan region of India, engineered the water system which is used to this day, thorn in the side of Mughal royalty
Ezana - First Christian ruler of a major kingdom
Kaleb of Axum - Came to the aid of persecuted Christians and annexed Yemen
Moulay Ismail - Wrested Morocco from Ottoman, Spanish and British forces, built many great monuments
Yusuf ibn Tashfin - Founded Marrakesh and thus Morocco, ruled southern Iberia, changed battle lines with the introduction of war drums, first in the Maghreb to use Christian mercenaries
Ibn Tumart - scholar, provocateur, Almohad political leader
Abd al-Mu'min - Expanded the Almohad empire into Spain to the borders of Egypt, left behind famous minarets
Yaqub al-Mansur (Almohad) - Routed the Iberian Christians in three major battles, lasting impact on philosophy, science, architecture, etc
Idris Alooma - Most well known king of Kanem-Bornu, lauded for his administration, diplomacy, patronage
Abu l-Hasan Ali - Significant figure in Maghrebian architecture