Turning to Africa: Politics and Student Resistance in Africa since 1968

  • Leo Zeilig


The year 1968 was the high-point of student unrest and politics for more than one continent. Despite a few honourable exceptions one of the problems with the huge amount of literature that poured out of the social movements in the late 1960s and 1970s was its significant Eurocentrism. The decade was also, in many ways, as important for student activists in Africa as it was in Europe and North America. Similarly, 1968 was a crucial year for student revolutionaries on the continent. In Senegal, in events that some have claimed predated the upheavals in France, students were central to the worst political crisis the president, Leopold Senghor, had faced since independence eight years previously. Forcing him to flee the capital and call in the French army to restore order, after only eight years of independence. This chapter looks explicitly at the nature of the student revolts in Africa in the late 1960s and 1970s. The chapter seeks to pull our attention away from Europe and North America, the privileged sites for discussing 1968, to focus on other voices that began to craft a new politics that year. The chapter argues that students at independence were pampered members of a privileged group who could expect state employment in the formal sectors after graduation, but the conditions of higher education on the continent changed quickly. It considers the nature of the student as a privileged political actor in the transformation of the modern world.


Student Movement Protest Movement African Student Social Pact French Army 
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© Leo Zeilig 2009

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  • Leo Zeilig

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