Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja was born in 1944 in Kasha, Congo-Kinshasa. He holds a B.A. degree in philosophy (Davidson College, Davidson, NC, 1967); an M.A. in diplomacy and international commerce (University of Kentucky, Lexington, 1968); and a Ph.D. in political science (University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1975).
A specialist in African politics, development policy and administration, and political theory, he is currently professor of African Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA) and professor emeritus of African studies at Howard University in Washington, DC.
Before joining the Howard University faculty in 1978, Professor Nzongola held academic appointments at the University of Kisangani in Congo-Kinshasa, 1970-71; the University of Lubumbashi (1971-75), also in the Congo, where he was associate dean in the Faculty of Social Sciences in 1972-73; Clark-Atlanta University, 1975-77; and the University of Maiduguri in Nigeria, 1977-78. He has also held appointments as a visiting lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Summer 1975), and as a visiting professor at El Colegio de Mexico in Mexico City (Summer 1987) and at Davidson College (Fall 1990). During the 1998-99 academic year, he served as the James K. Batten Professor of Public Policy at Davidson College.
As an expert on governance, conflict and capacity building issues, Professor Nzongola has served as an international civil servant for seven years with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP): as a senior adviser for governance to the Federal Government of Nigeria from March 2000 to May 2002; as Director of the Oslo Governance Centre, from August 2002 to July 2005; and as Facilitator for the Africa Governance Institute (AGI), an independent pan-African think tank on governance, from August 2005 to July 2007. He has done consulting work for the United Nations Secretariat, UNDP, UNESCO, the United Nations University, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the World Bank, the United States Department of State, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, the Social Science Research Council of the United States and other organizations. In 1999, he served as an expert in conflict mediation and legal drafting to the negotiations between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels in Lomé, Togo
In the area of public service, Professor Nzongola served as a delegate to the Sovereign National Conference of Congo-Kinshasa, in which he chaired the subcommittee on political files of the Committee on Political Affairs; as Diplomatic Adviser to the Conference’s elected Prime Minister Etienne Tshisekedi in 1992-93; and as Deputy President of the National Electoral Commission in 1996. He also served, as a representative of the Tshisekedi government, in the United Nations Mission to Observe the Referendum in Eritrea (UNOVER) in 1993.
Past President of the African Studies Association of the United States (ASA) and of the African Association of Political Science (AAPS), Professor Nzongola is the author of several books and numerous articles on African politics, development, and conflict issues. These include Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Africa, Nation-Building and State Building in Africa, and Le mouvement démocratique au Zaïre, 1956-1996. He is the editor of The Crisis in Zaire: Myths and Realities and of Conflict in the Horn of Africa, and co-editor of the State and Democracy in Africa and of The Oxford Companion to Politics of the World (both the first and second editions). His major work, The Congo from Leopold to Kabila: A People’s History, won the 2004 Best Book Award of the African Politics Conference Group (APCG), a study group of the ASA, the American Political Science Association (APSA) and the International Studies Association (ISA).