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.



Mugabe’s fall creates a chance for real change in Zimbabwe

We should celebrate the fall of Robert Mugabe. But hypocritical governments like Britain’s that are now attacking him supported him for years, writes Leo Zeilig. Real democracy has to be rooted in popular struggles inside Zimbabwe – and such movements have a powerful history. A moment came on Saturday 18 November which thousands of Zimbabweans […]

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Knocking Down the Pillars of Neoliberalism

This article was published in the Morning Star on 22 June, 2017.  ON JUNE 8 cleaners, who had been on strike at the London School of Economics (LSE) for seven weeks, in a dispute that has spanned 10 months, won. They won each of their demands. The cleaners were members of the United Voices of […]

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‘There are no foreigners here except the bosses’: Precarious workers strike back

A version of this blogpost was originally published by RS21 Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century – news, analysis, comment and campaigning from socialist activists based in the Britain By eight in the morning on Tuesday last week it had already been raining for a few hours. I had turned up early for the strike and […]

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‘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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