Chicago Anti-Apartheid Movement

Document Type



Media is loading

Publication Date

Fall 2009


African National Congress, Lisa Brock, Dennis Brutus, Basil Clunie, Caroline Elkins, Coalition for Illinois' Divestment from South Africa, Female circumcision, Africa, Kenya, Nelson Mandela, Mau Mau, Northwestern University, Alan Paton, Kikuyu (African people)


Political Science | Political Theory | Race and Ethnicity | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Work, Economy and Organizations


Length: 96 minutes

Oral history interview of Njoki Kamau by Christian Tulp

In this interview, Njoki Kamau Kamau recalls her childhood in Kenya under British colonialism and during the Mau Mau rebellion. She explains the Kukuyu traditions of her childhood and the effects the rebellion had on her family. She recalls her first experiences with racism in the United States and her struggles at Northwestern University. She explains how her childhood under colonialism dramatically influenced her later activism. She then explains how her participation in the divestment movement began with conversations with Dennis Brutus, a Northwestern professor from South Africa, regarding the Apartheid government. Kamau recounts Northwestern’s resistance to divest and the support she and other Northwestern activists received from organizations like CIDSA. She recalls her trip to South Africa and the focus of her Mission Counseling organization while there, and her larger work against racism, xenophobia, and colonialism. She describes her reactions to Mandela’s release and U.S. visit years later, to Reagan’s election and his policies on South Africa, and her feelings about the fall of Apartheid, Kenya’s independence, and Obama’s presidency.

Biography and Comments

Njoki Kamau was born in 1948 in Nyeri, Kenya and spend most of her childhood split between her home village and Nairobi, growing up in the shadow of the Mau Mau Rebellion. She received a bachelor’s degree in business administration in Nairobi before immigrating to the U.S. as a Fulbright student to earn an MBA at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. She then attended the American Graduate School of International Management in Arizona, where she received a second master’s degree in international business. She also attended Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. She is currently an Associate Professor of Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

The interviewer conducted this oral history as part of his/her coursework for the Fall 2009 class, Oral History: The Art of the Interview. This interview supports the scope and content of the Chicago Anti-Apartheid Movement Collection at the College Archives & Special Collections department of Columbia College Chicago. Contact for more information and to view the collection.

Additional Files

Interview with Njoki Kamau.pdf (239 kB)



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.