Recognised as one of Africa’s foremost thinkers, the Burkinabé historian, politician and writer, who was educated both in his home country and at the prestigious Sorbonne in France, began his political activism and work in human rights in Burkina Faso, with a particular focus on the idea of endogenous development. He believed that “integrating local farmers’ techniques and beliefs with modern technology was the only sensitive and efficient way to help Africans retain their control of their country’s agriculture.”
Once a member of UNESCO’s Executive Council, and a professor at Burkina Faso’s Universite d’Ouagadougou, Ki-Zerbo published a lot of books, including the famous Histoire de l’Afrique Noire (History of Black Africa) that became a reference book in African history. A socialist and an advocate of African independence and unity, he founded the Centre for African Development Studies (CEDA) that had the goal: “we don’t develop, we develop ourselves”. Even when he was exiled due to his revolutionary ideas, he continued to work for Burkina Faso’s people by establishing an organization similar to CEDA in Senegal. Before his death in 2006, Ki-Zerbo had gained wide acclaim for his ideals. In 1997, the Right Livelihood Awards (or the Alternate Nobel Prizes) recognized Ki-Zerbo for his research on development. In 2000, he received the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights.