Leo Zeilig


Photo credit, Ben Joseph

Leo Zeilig is a writer and researcher. He has written extensively on African politics and history, including books on working-class struggle and the development of revolutionary movements and biographies on some of Africa’s most important political thinkers and activists. In different ways, each book examines the growth of decolonization, the failures of independence and the development of radical politics on the continent. In all of his writing Leo presents the continent as being at the centre of globalization.

Leo is an editor of the Review of African Political Economy—the radical African-studies journal founded by activists and scholars in 1974—and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London where he set-up and coordinates the Ruth First Papers Project.

Leo’s critically acclaimed novel Eddie the Kid was published by Zero Books in 2013. Eddie the Kid is about the life of an activist in London during the anti-war movement in the early 2000s. It was praised in The Guardian: ‘This passionate, sad and well-told book offers a compelling portrait of a flawed young radical.’ Eddie the Kid won the 2014 Creative Work prize at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. Leo is writing his third novel


Leo is an editor of the Review of African Political Economy and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London. He has written in a number of academic domains, including sociology, political science, political economy, geography and history. Here are a few of the academic articles, chapters and reports he has written in recent years.


  • Voice of Liberation: Frantz Fanon Cape Town: HSRC Press, 2015 Available here.
  • Frantz Fanon: Philosopher of Third World Liberation London: I. B Tauris, 2015 Available here.
  • Voices of Liberation: Patrice Lumumba Cape Town: HSRC Press, 2013 Available here.
  • African Struggles Today: Social Movements Since Independence, with Peter Dwyer Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2012 Download here.
  • Class Struggle and Resistance in Africa, editor, Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2009 (2 editions, 2 languages) Read here.
  • Africa’s Lost Leader: Lumumba London: Haus Publishing, 2008 (2 editions) Available here.
  • Revolt and Protest: Student Politics and Activism in Sub-Saharan Africa London: I.B. Tauris, 2007 (2 editions) Available here.
  • Congo: Plunder and Resistance, with David Seddon and David Renton London: Zed Books, 2006 Download here.
  Edited collections and reports    
  • Review of African Political Economy, Special Issue on Ruth First, with Janet Bujra and Gary Littlejohn 41: 139, 2014 Available here.
  • Zimbabwe 2008: a new beginning? Understanding Global Issues, 2009 Available here.
  • Journal of Higher Education in Africa, Special Issue on Student Activism in Africa, with Marcelle Dawson, 6:1&2, 2008 Download here.
  Articles and chapters    
  • From London to Maputo: Ruth First and the problems of liberation,’ Review of African Political Economy 41: 139, 2014 Available here.
  • Não vamos esquecer (We will not forget)’, with Gary Littlejohn and Gavin Williams, Review of African Political Economy 41: 139, 2014 Available here.
  • Pitfalls and Radical Mutations: Frantz Fanon’s revolutionary life,’ International socialism 134, 2012 Read here.
  • An epoch of uprisings: Social movements in Africa since 1945,’ with Miles Larmer, Socialist History Journal 40 (2012) Available here.
  • Frantz Fanon, une vie révolutionnaire,’ Contretemps 10, 2011 Available here.
  • Tony Cliff: Deflected Permanent Revolution in Africa,’ International Socialism 126, 2010 Read here.
  • The student-intelligentsia in sub-Saharan Africa: Structural adjustment, activism and transformation,’ Review of African Political Economy 36:119, 2009 Available here.
  • 'Southern African social movements at the 2007 Nairobi World Social Forum,' with Miles Larmer and Peter Dwyer, Global Networks 9:1, 2009 Available here.
  • Turning to Africa: Politics and student resistance in Africa since 1968,’ in Gurminder K Bhambra and Ipek Demir, eds., 1968 in Retrospect: History, Theory, Alterity London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009 Download here.
  • Zimbabwe: imperialism, hypocrisy and fake nationalism,’ International Socialism 119, 2008 Read here.
  • Increasing my value proposition to the struggle”: Arthur Mutambara and student politics in Zimbabwe,’ African Sociological Review 12:1, 2007 Download here.
  • Slums, resistance and the African working class,’ International socialism 117, 2007 Read here.
  • Class and protest in Africa: New waves,’ with David Seddon, Review of African Political Economy 102, 2005 Download here.
  • En quête de changement politique: La mobilisation étudiante au Sénégal, 2000–2004,’ Politique Africaine 96, 2005 Read here.
  • Crisis in Zimbabwe,’ International Socialism 94, 2002 Read here.



‘From London to Harare: an activist yearning for an ounce of practice’

Heike Becker reviews An Ounce of Practice for The Conversation a novel that ‘tells a gripping tale of an intellectual leftie from London, a group of southern African activists in Zimbabwe and England, and the emotional battles of living and acting in the struggles of the 21st century… An Ounce of Practice succeeds as an imaginative engagement […]

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Burkina Faso: from Thomas Sankara to popular resistance

Arguably the résistance populaire across Burkina Faso in September 2015 against the coup led by members of the old regime was as significant as the uprising that toppled Blaise Compaoré in October 2014. In a  recent Briefing in the Review of African Political Economy I attempt to unpick the significance and extent of the popular resistance. […]

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From the Archive: Ruth First and South Africa

Despite not having been updated for several years there is invaluable historical material, archive documents, films clips and interviews on the Ruth First website on the struggle against Apartheid. Several interviews and videos are particularly interesting, including a lecture by Albie Sachs:     The event Albie spoke at was the thirtieth anniversary of Ruth […]

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Revisiting Frantz Fanon

A new book by Leo Zeilig focuses on one of Africa and the modern era’s most celebrated revolutionaries, whose views remain influential long after his death. This is an extract from The Conversation. Many people spoke well that day. Delegates had come from across the African continent to independent Ghana for the All-African Peoples’ Conference […]

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