UMass Amherst to Host Discussion on Democracy and Development in Africa with Kenyan Senator Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o

Peter Anyang' Nyong'o

AMHERST, Mass. – Professor Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, senator for Kenya’s Kisumu County and former Kenyan minister of national planning and development and minister of medical services, will lead a discussion on democracy and development in Africa on Friday, Nov. 8 at 4 p.m. at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Gordon Hall.

The event is free and open to the public, and is presented by the Five College African Studies Council and the UMass economics department’s Economic History and Development Workshop.

Anyang’ Nyong’o’s lecture, “Elections, Electoral Politics and Coalition Building in Africa—Is Democracy on Trial,” will examine the emergence during the last decade of “democratic reversals” in contemporary Africa—frequent failures in elections that make losers challenge results as legitimate, very often seeing the advent of vicious circles of internal conflicts and political instability. Using the case studies of Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya and Zimbabwe, he will discuss whether the African political environment is “hostile” to democracy, or if vested interests in contemporary political economies are too hostile to the kinds of open societies in which competitive electoral politics are feasible.

Anyang’ Nyong’o is currently a Gro Harlem Brundtland Senior Leadership Fellow in the division of policy translation and leadership development at the Harvard School of Public Health. After graduating from Makerere University, Kampala, in 1971 with a B.A. and first class honors in political science and philosophy, he received his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science at the University of Chicago. He went on to teach at the University of Nairobi, El Colegio de Mexico and Addis Ababa University before joining the African Academy of Sciences as head of programs from 1987-92.

Having been involved in the struggle against authoritarian rule in Kenya throughout his academic career, he was among the leaders who made a breakthrough into multiple-party politics in 1992. He was elected to parliament that year and has served in various capacities in the Kenyan government since. He was the nation’s minister for planning and national development from 2003-05, and minister for medical services from 2008 until this year. He is currently the senator for Kisumu County.

Anyang’ Nyong’o has published several books and articles on democracy, democratization, the state and the political economy of development in Africa, and in 1995 he was awarded the German-African Award for his contributions to democracy and democratization in Africa.