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. Leo is an editor of the Review of African Political Economy—the radical African-studies journal founded by activists and scholars in 1974—a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London. Leo’s critically acclaimed novel Eddie the Kid was published by Zero Books in 2013. 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. In 2017 Leo’s second novel, An Ounce of Practice, was published by Hoperoad. Praised in The Conversation as ‘a brilliant work of literary imagination that takes the reader to new realities in an engaging, moving read, hilariously humorous at times.’ 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.


  • Thomas Sankara, with Jean-Claude Kongo Cape Town: HSRC Press, 2017
  • 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)
  • Congo: Plunder and Resistance, with David Seddon and David Renton London: Zed Books, 2006

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

Articles and chapters

  • ‘Marxism, Class and Revolution in Africa: Understanding the legacy and the defeat of the 1917 Russian Revolution,’ International Socialism 157, 2018
  • ‘Burkina Faso: from Thomas Sankara to popular resistance,’ Review of African Political Economy 44: 151, 2017
  • ‘Frantz Fanon’s Radical Psychiatry: the making of a revolutionary,’ Critical and Radical Social Work 5: 1, 2016 Available here 
  • ‘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 
  • ‘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. 
  • ‘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.



‘Walter Rodney was way ahead of his time’

Africa is a Country posted an article based on some research on Walter Rodney that I have been doing.  “Rediscovered lectures Walter Rodney gave in 1978 in Hamburg shows a reflective intellectual, thinking critically about postcolonial African governance. Between April and June of 1978, Walter Rodney, then already an important intellectual for his book, How Europe […]

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Review: An Ounce of Practice

For the Review of African Political Economy, Colin Stoneman praises An Ounce of Practice, which he commends as  a story of ‘British socialists wishing to fight the impact of neo-colonialism and neoliberal economics on Africa.’ The review can be read in full here. Why does anyone write a novel? Why does a political person write a novel? Why does […]

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No Honourable Goddamn Stereotypes

Lynnda Wardle reviews An Ounce of Practice in the Glasgow Review of Books An Ounce of Practice by Leo Zeilig is a hugely enjoyable, ambitious bildungsroman following the life and loves of left-wing academic Viktor Isaacs, and his relationships with a group of activists in London and Zimbabwe. The book is framed by the economic insecurities of the 2008 […]

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Fanon’s Radical Psychiatry

My article on Frantz Fanon in Critical and Radical Social Work has been made free to access for six months. The article Frantz Fanon’s radical psychiatry: the making of a revolutionary is available here. Please feel free to share the link and read the article. ‘Frantz Fanon was a psychiatrist and revolutionary. Born on the Caribbean island of Martinique, he studied in France and […]

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