1901, 21 January
Emirs of Kontagora and Bida are defeated by British forces in the continuing campaign against the Sokoto Caliphate.
1942, 21 January - World War II: North Africa
Rommel begins a new offensive against the Allies in North Africa, hoping to push them back to the east.
1961, 21 January
Ahmed Sékou Touré is elected president of the republic of Guinea.
1962, 21 January
Julius Kambarage Nyerere, Tanganyikan president, resigns because of opposition to his policies. He spends the year converting the Tanganyikan African National Union, TANU, into a governing party in preparation for the republic.
1992, 21 January
The UN orders Libya to hand over two suspects linked to the Lockerbie bombing (Pan Am 103).