Joseph Ki-Zerbo – Burkina Faso (1922 – 2006)

Joseph Ki-Zerbo (June 21, 1922 – December 4, 2006, Burkina Faso) was a Burkinabé politician and writer. He spent his youth in Toma where he grew up in a rural context inside a big family. Ki-Zerbo himself declared that his first 11 years passed in a rural context marked his personality and thoughts. He was recognized as one of Africa’s foremost thinkers. He was educated both in is home country in missionary schools at Toma, and Pabre (around 20 miles from the capital). Also, he studied at Faladie in Mali and after at [Sorbonne University], which is one of the most prestigious schools in France. After getting his aggregation degree in History, he returned to Africa. Once back, he became politically active. From 1972 to 1978 he was Professor of African History at the University of Ouagadougou. But in 1983, he was forced into exile, only being able to return in 1992. 50th anniversary of the intellectual career of professor Joseph Ki-Zerbo, 1922- 2006 (portal

Ki-Zerbo founded his own party, the Party for Democracy and Progress/ Socialist Party, which he was chairman until 2005 and represented in the Burkina Faso parliament until 2006. Ki-Zerbo was also the best known opponent of the revolutionary government of the President Thomas Sankara. Ki-Zerbo was socialist and an exponent of an independent development of Africa and of Unity of the continent … (full text).

He said: “The Africa which the world needs is a continent able to stand up, to walk on its own feet … it is an Africa conscious of its own past and able to keep on reinvesting this past into its present and future”.


Joseph Ki-Zerbo – Burkina Faso (1922 – 2006)

More about him:

He wrote: … “CEDA conducts research which is actually rooted in our land for the purpose of determining one or more global hypotheses of understanding, liable to inspire action by Africans and capable of integrating ecological preservation, the social praxis and cultural identity, key sectors which are almost invariably treated as secondary in development projects” … (full text).

the book: From Chains to Bonds, The Slave Trade, Capter 11 from Joseph Ki-Zerbo, 2001, 470 pages.

the book: Joseph Ki-Zerbo and DjiBril Tamsir Niane, editors: UNESCO General History of Africa,
Vol. IV, Abridged Edition, Africa from the Twelfth to the Sixteenth Century, UNESCO General History of Africa, IV.

What is the Tonga Definition of Intelligence?

… As a historian, he has published a number of books with endogenous development as the central theme. From 1972 to 1978, Ki-Zerbo was a member of UNESCO’s Executive Council, and was a professor at Burkina Faso’s Universite d’Ouagadougou. In 1980, Ki-Zerbo founded the Centre d’Etudes pour le Developpement Africain (CEDA) … (full text).

Joseph Ki-Zerbo 1922-2006 on Al-Baal Café.

… This development of inequalities raises questions about educational investments, opposing on the one hand formal education offered on a long-term basis by public authorities, and which should be oriented to the entire population without discrimination according to social status or geographic location, and on the other hand specialized education, organized and directed by firms, which is oriented to the population mobilized where the firms are located for short- or medium-term productive objectives. This question of the relationships between territorialization, forms, and objectives of education was present in the first two sessions and indeed throughout the entire seminar up to the final presentation by Professor KI ZERBO, who raised the question of whether a true civic education was possible given the nonlocalized organization of knowledge based on strictly economic objectives of firms … (full text).

Joseph KI-Zerbo, the man who dreamt about Africa.

He got the right livelihood award, ”…for a lifetime of scholarship and activism that has identified the key principles and processes by which Africans can create a better future”, (see also on wikipedia), the Al\-Gadafi international prize for human rights, and the Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Padoue in Italy.

Joseph Ki-Zerbo talks to Bahgat Elnadi and Adel Rifaat – Interview, Febr. 1992.

And he said: “When I began my university studies at the Sorbonne in 1950, as a colonized ’subject’ from French West Africa I turned towards African history as a matter of course. There was none; its very existence was denied. There was not a single course at the Sorbonne on the history of Sub-Saharan Africa—at best, it was considered in practice as part of ethnology. As a reaction to this situation and further motivated by a number of racist incidents to which we had been personally subjected, we students who refused the concept of ethno-history for our peoples were eager to search for our authentic history at the same time as we attended lectures on the feudal monarchy in France, Florence in the XVth century or Weimar Germany … ” (full interview text).

An IDRC–Jesuit Project.

Find him and his publications on amazon; on wikipedia/bibliography; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search; on Google Blog-search.

DECES A OUAGADOUGOU DE JOSEPH KI-ZERBO : Un grand historien et penseur africain nous a quittés, 5 Déc 2006.

L’intellectuel africain et opposant burkinabè Joseph Ki-Zerbo est décédé lundi matin à son domicile de Ouagadougou des suites d’une maladie. A 84 ans, cet agrégé d’Histoire a connu l’une des plus longues carrières politiques commencée dans les années 50 … Il était le premier Africain agrégé d’Histoire … Joseph Ki-Zerbo a obtenu en 1997 le Prix Nobel Alternatif, le prix Kadhafi pour les droits de l’homme en 2000 et en 2004 le prix RFI Témoins du monde … (texte intégral, 05/12/2006).

Background Notes, Burkina Faso, May 2008.

Joseph Ki-Zerbo: Siamo ve­nuti in quindici qui per ascoltare le lezioni di Ki Zerbo. Per imparare a conoscere le radici della storia africa­na e, imparandola, per metterci in ascolto di questo continente che ha parole nuove e diverse da dire ad un mondo che sta costruendosi troppo spesso su basi disumane. Ci ha accolto a casa sua, e lo stesso farà altre tre volte, per raccontarci l’Africa. (full text).

Joseph Ki-Zerbo sur wikipedia français.

Meglio Perdere il Cappello che la Testa. Conversazione sull’Africa con Joseph Ki-Zerbo – a cura di p. Venanzio Milani – Fotografie e note di Massimiliano Troiani – Prefazione di Federica Sciarelli – Missionary International Service News Agency – Libro fotografico che pulsa della vita dell’Africa e che contiene una lunga conversazione di Padre Milani con Joseph Ki-Zerbo, considerato il più grande storico africano. Foto di donne, di bambini, di situazioni di vita quotidiana viste attraverso l’obiettivo di Troiani che sa cogliere sfumature e sentimenti. Sfogliare queste pagine vuol dire entrare in un altro mondo: nelle piazze africane, nei volti che sanno di antico, accompagnati dalla saggezza lieve del grande Ki-Zerbo che parla a ruota libera ai suoi amici non africani. Forse la sua ultima testimonianza prima della sua morte avvenuta proprio durante la stesura di questo libro. (full text).

Joseph Ki-Zerbo on italian wikipedia.

L’avis de la Fnac sur “A quand l’Afrique ?” de Joseph Ki-Zerbo: C’est d’un ” point de vue africain ” que Joseph Ki-Zerbo, historien et homme politique burkinabé, aborde les problématiques de l’Afrique contemporaine : délitement de l’Etat, mondialisation, dette, conflits dits ethniques, interventionnisme du Nord … Il rappelle surtout que la force du continent repose sur des bases pré-coloniales solides – partage du pouvoir, cumul des appartenances, liens de solidarité informels, etc – qu’il serait judicieux de réactiver pour repenser l’Etat, et l’envisager sur un mode fédéral … (full text).




Die Afrikabibliothek;

Declaração Internacional dos Editores Independentes;

Awareness: The Key to Black Mental Health, by Dr. Na´im Akbar;

Casa das Africa/recomendamos;

The Journal Prospects;

Create a virtual summer bookshelf.

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