WATCH: The Political Thought of the Philosopher Kings – with follow up readings!

Facebook Twitter Email

Check out the latest IDAP event on the political thought of Senghor, Nyerere, Nkrumah, Keïta, Houphouët-Boigny, Kenyatta, Kaunda, Azikiwe, Cabral … and much more.

Note: for some reason the recording ends before 40 mins of this 90 min event – we are not sure why the recording cuts off at this point. We apologise that the valuable discussion between the speakers is therefore missing.


Anaïs Angelo, Elise Richter Fellow, Institut für Afrikawissenschaften, author of Power and the Presidency in Kenya: The Jomo Kenyatta years

Stephen Chan OBE, Professor of World Politics, SOAS, author of African Political Thought

Nic Cheeseman, Professor of Democracy, Director CEDAR, University of Birmingham, author of The Moral Economy of Elections in Africa

Albert Kasanda, Research Fellow, Institute of Philosophy at the Czech Academy of Sciences, author of Africa in a Multilateral World

Awino Okech, Reader in Political Sociology, SOAS, author of Gender, Protests and Political Change in Africa IDAP is an inclusive research network dedicated to the study of African Political Thought.

As the name suggests, the Ideas in African Politics network (IDAP) are particularly interested in the question of how ideas and ideologies shape political institutions, attitudes, beliefs, and action. For more information click here. To join IDAP, simply send an email with your name, preferred email address, institutional affiliation, and relevant research interests to:

For more information on IDAP, click here.

For further reading suggested by our authors, check out the list below!

From Awino Okech:

Joseph-Gabriel, Annette KReimagining liberation: how Black women transformed citizenship in the French Empire. University of Illinois Press, 2019.

From Anaïs Angelo:

Berman, Bruce. “Ethnography as Politics, Politics as Ethnography: Kenyatta, Malinowski,
and the Making of Facing Mount Kenya.” Canadian Journal of African
Studies 30, no. 3 (1996): 313–344.
Frederiksen, Bodil F. “Jomo Kenyatta, Marie Bonaparte and Bronislaw
Malinowski on Clitoridectomy and Female Sexuality.” History Workshop
Journal 65, no. 1 (2008): 23–48.
Moskowitz, Kara. “‘Are You Planting Trees or Are You Planting People?’
Squatter Resistance and International Development in the Making of a
Kenyan Postcolonial Political Order (c. 1963–78).” Journal of African
History 56, no. 1 (2015): 99–118.
Kenyatta, Jomo. Facing Mount Kenya. New York: Vintage Books, 1965.
——— My People of Gikuyu and the Life of Chief Wangombe.
London: Lutterworth Press, 1942.
——— Kenya: The Land of Conflict. London: Panaf Service Limited, 1945.
Facing Mount Kenya. New York: Vintage Books, 1965.
——— Suffering without Bitterness: The Founding of the Kenya Nation. Nairobi:
East African Publishing House, 1968.
Lonsdale, John. “‘Listen While I Read’: The Orality of Christian Literacy in the Young
Kenyatta’s Making of the Kikuyu.” In Ethnicity in Africa: Roots,
Meanings & Implications, edited by Louise de la Gorgendiere, Kenneth
King, and Sarah Vaughan, 17–53. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh
Centre of African Studies, 1996.
———  “Jomo Kenyatta, God & the Modern World.” In African Modernities:
Entangled Meanings in Current Debate, edited by Peter Probst,
Heike Schmidt, and Jan-Georg Deutsch, 31–66. Oxford: James Currey,
———  “Les Procès de Jomo Kenyatta. Destruction et Construction d’un Nationaliste
Africain.” Politix 17, no. 66 (2004): 163–197.
———  “Ornamental Constitutionalism in Africa: Kenyatta and the Two
Queens.” The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 34,
no. 1 (2006): 87–103.
Péatrik, Anne-Marie. “Le Singulier Destin de Facing Mount Kenya. The Tribal Life of the
Gikuyu (1938) de Jomo Kenyatta. Une Contribution à l’Anthropologie
des Savoirs.” L’Homme 4, no. 212 (2014): 71–108
Murray-Brown, Jeremy. Kenyatta. London: George Allen&Unwin Ltd., 1972.
Anaïs Angelo, “Jomo Kenyatta and the Repression of the ‘Last’ Mau Mau Leaders,
1961–65.” Journal of Eastern African Studies 11, no. 3 (2017): 442–459.
———“Women in Philosophy (African Feminist Philosophy).” Commissioned by Oxford University Press for the Oxford Encyclopedia of African Women History.  2022.

From Stephen Chan (Stephen has kindly shared the bibliography for his great book on African Political Thought – buy the book here):

Amin, Samir, Delinking: Towards a Polycentric World, London: Zed, 1990.

Amir, Samir, Eurocentrism, London: Zed, 1989.

Amin, Samir, Ending the Crisis of Capitalism or Ending Capitalism, Cape Town: Pambazuka, 2011.

Amin, Samir, Global History: A View from the South, Cape Town: Pambazuka, 2011.

Armah, Ayi Kwei, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, London: Heinemann, 1969.

Azikiwe, Nnamdi, Renascent Africa, London: Frank Cass, 1968 (first published 1937).

Biko, Steve, I Write What I Like: Selected Writings, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.

Blyden, Edward Wilmot, Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race (facsimile edition), Hartford CT: Martino Fine Books, 2016 (first published 1887).

Blyden, Edward Wilmot, The Negro in Ancient History (facsimile edition), Hartford CT: Martino Fine Books, 2020 (first published 1869).

Cabral, Amilcar, Return to the Source: Selected Speeches, NY: Monthly Review Press, 1973.

Cesaire, Aime, Discourse on Colonialism, NY: Monthly Review Press, 2000 (first published 1950).

Cesaire, Aime, Journal of a Homecoming/ Cahier d’un retour ay pays natal, Durham, N. Carolina: Duke University Press, 2017 (first published 1939).

Diop, Cheikh Anta, The Cultural Unity of Black Africa: The Domains of Patriarchy and of Matriarchy in Classical Antiquity, London: Karnak House, 1989 (first published 1963).

Diop, Cheikh Anta, Towards the African Renaissance: Essays in Culture and Development, 1946-1960, London: Karnak House, 1996.

Du Bois, W.E.B., The Souls of Black Folk, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015 (first published 1903).

Du Bois, W.E.B., The Talented Tenth, NY: Nook Press, 208 (first published 1903).

Du Bois, W.E.B., The Philadelphia Negro, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1899.

Du Bois, W.E.B., Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880, NY: Free Press, 1999 (first published 1935).

Fanon, Frantz, The Wretched of the Earth, London: Penguin, 2001 (first published 1961).

Fanon Frantz, Black Skin, White Masks, London: Penguin, 2021 (first published 1952).

Fanon Frantz, Toward the African Revolution, NY: Grove Press, 1994 (first published 1964).

Fanon, Frantz, Alienation and Freedom, London: Bloomsbury, 2018 (previously unpublished as a single volume).

Fanon, Frantz, A Dying Colonialism, NY: Grove Press, 1994 (first published 1959).

Garvey, Marcus, Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey, NY: Dover, 2005.

Garvey, Marcus, The Tragedy of White Injustice: Garvey’s Epic Poem, Trenton, NJ: Black Classic Press, 2016 (first published 1927).

Garvey, Marcus & Amy Jacques Garvey, Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey (two volumes published in one facsimile edition), Hartford CT: Martino Fine Books, 2014 (first published 1923).

Gyekye, Kwame, An Essay on Akan Philosophical Thought: The Akan Conceptual Scheme, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

James, C.L. R., The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution, London: Penguin, 2001.

Kaunda, Kenneth, Zambia Shall be Free, London: Heinemann, 1962.

Kaunda, Kenneth (ed. Colin Legum), Zambia, independence and beyond: The speeches of Kenneth Kaunda, London: Nelson, 1966.

Kaunda, Kenneth D., A humanist in Africa: Letters to Colin M. Morris, London: Longmans, 1966.

Kaunda, Kenneth D., Letters to my Children, NY: Prentice Hall, 1973.

Kaunda, Kenneth D., The Riddle of Violence, NY: Harper & Row, 1981.

Kaunda, Kenneth David (ed. Colin Morris), Kaunda on Violence, NY: Harper Collins, 1980.

Mandela, Nelson, The Struggle is My Life, Atlanta: Pathfinder, 1991.

Mandela, Nelson, Long Walk to Freedom, London: Abacus, 1995.

Mandela, Nelson, No Easy Walk to Freedom: Speeches, Letters and Other Writings, London: Penguin, 2002.

Mbeki, Thabo, Africa – The Time Has Come: Selected Speeches, Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1998.

Mbeki, Thabo, Africa – Define Yourself, Cape Town: Tafelberg, 2002.

Mbeki, Thabo, Letters from the President: Articles from the First 100 Editions of ANC Today, Johannesburg: ANC Communications Unit, 2003.

Mbembe, Achille, On the Postcolony, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

Mbembe, Achille, Critique of Black Reason, Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2017.

Mbembe, Achille, Necropolitics, Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2019.

Mkandawire, Thandika & Charles C. Soludo, African Voices on Structural Adjustment, Trenton NJ: Africa World Press, 2003.

Mkandawire, Thandika (ed.), African Intellectuals: Rethinking Politics, Language, Gender and Development, London: Zed, 2005.

Mkandawire, Thandika, Africa Beyond Recovery, Oxford: African Books Collective, 2015.

Mapanje, Jack, Skipping Without Ropes, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne: Bloodaxe, 1999.

Mapanje, jack, And Crocodiles are Hungry at Night, Banbury: Ayebia Clarke, 2011.

Mudimbe, V.Y., The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy and the Order of Knowledge, Oxford: James Currey, 1990.

Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Sabelo J., Coloniality of Power in Postcolonial Africa: Myths of Decolonization, Dakar: CODESRIA, 2013.

Ndlovu-Gtasheni, Sabelo J., Empire, Global Coloniality and African Subjectivity, NY: Berghahn, 2015.

Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Sabelo J., Epistemic Freedom in Africa: Deprovincialization and Decolonization (Rethinking Deevelopment), London: Routledge, 2018.

Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Sabelo J., Decolonization, Development and Knowledge in Africa: Turning Over a New Leaf (Worlding Beyond the West), London: Routledge, 2020.

Ngugi wa Thiongo, Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature, Oxford: Heinemann, 1986.

Ngugi wa Thiongo (eds. Reinhard Sander & Bernth Lindfors), Ngugi wa Thiongo Speaks, Oxford: James Currey, 2006.

Nkrumah, Kwame, Africa Must Unite, London: Heinemann, 1963.

Nkrumah, Kwame, Consciencism: Philosophy and Ideology for De-Colonization, NY: Monthly Review Press, 1996 (first published 1970).

Nkrumah, Kwame, Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism, Bedford: Panaf, 1974.

Nyerere, Julius Kambarage, Ujamaa: Essays on Socialism, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971.

Nyerere, Julius K., Freedom and Socialism- Uhuru na Ujamaa, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970.

Nyerere, Julius K., On Socialism, Oxford: Oxford University press, 1970.

Nyerere, Julius K., Man and Development, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975.

Nyerere, Julius K., Freedom and Unity: A Selection from Writings and Speeches, 1952-1965, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971.

Obasanjo, Olusegun, My Command, Oxford: Heinemann, 1981.

Obsanjo, Olusegun, My Watch (three volumes), Lagos: Kachifo, 2014-15.

Padmore, George (ed.), Hakim Adi & Marika Sherwood, The 1945 Manchester Pan-African Congress Revisited: With Colonial and Coloured Unity, London: New Beacon, 1995.

Rodney, Walter, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, London: Verso, 2018 (first published 1972).

Sankara, Thomas, Women’s Liberation and the African Freedom Struggle, Atlanta: Pathfinder 2007.

Sankara, Thomas, Thomas Sankara Speaks:The Burkina Faso Revolution 1983-1987, Atlanta: Pathfinder, 2007.

Sankara, Thomas, We are the Heirs of the World’s Revolutions: Speeches from the Burkina Faso Revolution 1983-1987, Atlanta: Pathfinder, 2007.

Senghor. Leopold Sedar, Nocturnes, New Rochelle: Opaku, 1971.

Senghor, Leopold Sedar, Ethiopiques, Paris: Seuil, 1956.

Soyinka, Wole, The Open Sore of a Continent: A Personal Narrative of the Nigerian Crisis, NY: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Soyinka, Wole, The Man Died: The Prison Notes of Wole Soyinka, NY: Noon day, 1988.

Soyinka, Wole, Season of Anomy, London: Rex Collins, 1973.

Soyinka, Wole, The Interpreters, Oxford: Heinemann, 1970.


Join in the debate... let us know what you think!

Discover more from Democracy in Africa

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading