BAR HARBOR — The “Nelson Mandela of Kenya” will offer his perspective on the struggle for democracy in Africa at the next Human Ecology Forum at College of the Atlantic.
Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o will present “The Struggle for Democracy and the Political Economy of Development in Africa” in Gates Auditorium at College of the Atlantic on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 4:10 p.m. As with all Human Ecology Forums, the talk is free and open to the public.
Nyong’o has been involved in the struggle against authoritarian rule in Kenya throughout his career. He was among leaders who made a breakthrough into multiple party politics in 1992. He was elected to Parliament that year and has served in various capacities, including as minister for planning and national development, 2003-05; and minister for medical services, 2008-13. He currently serves as a Kenyan senator.
Among his many accolades, Nyong’o and his daughter, Lupita, helped work on the film “12 Years a Slave,” a 2013 historical epic adapted from an 1853 narrative memoir by Solomon Northup. Northup was a free man who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C., in 1841 and sold into slavery. The film won three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong’o and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Nyong’o graduated from Makerere University in Kampala, Kenya, in 1971 with a B.A. with first-class honors in political science and philosophy; and from the University of Chicago in 1974 with an M.A., then in 1977 with a Ph.D. in political science. He taught at the University of Nairobi from 1977-81, El Colegio de Mexico from 1971-84 and Addis Ababa University from 1984-86. He then joined the African Academy of Sciences as head of programs from 1987-1992.
He has published several books and articles on democracy, democratization, the state and the political economy of development in Africa, including “Popular Struggles for Democracy in Africa” (Zed Books, 1987) and “The Study of African Politics: A Critical Appreciation of A Heritage” (Ball Foundation, 2002).
In 1995, Nyong’o was awarded the German-African Award for his contribution to democracy and democratization in Africa. He was recently Gro Harlem Brundland Senior Leadership Fellow in the Division of Policy Translation and Leadership Development at the Harvard School of Public Health, from Dec. 2013 to March 2014.