About Us

Our Vision

We envision a world of cooperation and mutual support, free of systems that rely on social and economic violence and political and military domination.

Our Mission

Founded on January 31, 2003, the mission of the Ota Benga Alliance is to raise awareness of Congolese history and to identify and support social healers and healing forces in the D.R. Congo, the U.S.A., and elsewhere, which offer nonviolent and healing ways of organizing society and resolving conflict.

Contact Us
Click here to contact the Ota Benga Alliance.

Executive Board

Jacques Depelchin, Executive Director, is a committed intellectual, academic, and activist for peace, democracy, transparency and pro-people politics in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He was born in the Congo and educated at Lovanium University (Kinshasa) in the DRC, the University of London, Johns Hopkins University in Italy, and Stanford. He has taught African History and related subjects at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, San Francisco State, Stanford, Syracuse, and universities in DR Congo, Mozambique, and Tanzania.

He was present in the Eastern Congo during the most recent war in 1996-2002, and was a member of the non-militarist RCD-Kisangani movement led by Ernest Wamba dia Wamba which opposed continuation of the war. He participated in the negotiations leading to the Lusaka Cease-fire, those leading to Sun City-1 in 2002, and later, in portions of the negotiations leading to the Global and Inclusive Accord in Pretoria, 2003.

He is the author of From the Congo Free State to Contemporary Zaire (Codesria, 1992), Silences in African History: Between the syndromes of discovery and abolition (Mkuki Na Nyota, 2005), and numerous papers and articles.

He is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Berkeley-based Ota Benga Alliance [For Peace, Healing, and Dignity in the DR Congo and the USA]. Under its umbrella, he is researching American and Congolese social healing and bringing together the healers, as well as lecturing and writing on the DR Congo to improve American understanding of its history and present realities. The Ota Benga Alliance is linked with a sister organization in Kinshasa, The Ota Benga Center for Human Dignity.

Susan Lyon is a long-time anti-racist, anti-imperialist activist and retired neonatal nurse. She is interested in helping to build structures which emphasize cooperative action, mutual support, and decision-making by consensus. She resides in San Francisco and is an active member of the San Francisco Gray Panthers.

Raj Patel has worked for the World Bank, interned at the WTO, consulted for the UN and been involved in international campaigns against his former employers. Currently a researcher at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa and a visiting scholar at the Center for African Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, his education includes degrees from Oxford, the London School of Economics & Cornell University. His first book, Stuffed and Starved, was released in 2007, and his second The Value of Nothing, in 2009. He blogs at RajPatel.org.

Pauline Wynter is an ecologist with a deep commitment to sustainable use of tropical natural resources, especially in Africa. Her interests lie in linking peoples of all cultures who are united by a day-to-day awe and respect for our intrinsic relationship with nature. She is presently based in Salvador, Brazil.

Honorary Board

Walter Bgoya is the founder and creator of Mkuki Na Nyota Publishers in Dar es Salaam, the leading progressive publishing house in Eastern and Southern Africa. He has been actively involved in political and diplomatic affairs in Tanzania and throughout Africa, both through his work in the Tanzanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1966 to 1972 and through his position in the Tanzania Publishing House from 1978–90 when he started Mkuki Na Nyota. He is a founding member of the African Books Collective, the African Publishers Network and is chairman of the jury for the prestigious NOMA Award for Publishing in Africa.

Mary Carlson is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School (Children’s Hospital) and an Associate Professor in the Department of Population and International Health at Harvard’s School of Public Health. In addition, she is the co-principal investigator, with her husband, Felton Earls, on the CHASE-Kilimanjaro project, a study of child health and development in Moshi, Tanzania. The major goal of the project is to strengthen community approaches which promote the health and well-being of children during the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Maryse Condé is a novelist, playwright, critic, and teacher. She was born in Guadeloupe, educated in France, and taught in Guinea, Ghana and Senegal until 1968 when she moved to London. In 1970 she returned to France where, after some years of teaching, she received a doctorate in comparative literature from the Sorbonne in 1976, the same year she also completed her first novel, Hérémakhonon. She is best known for her two-part historical novel, Sègou, published in 1984, which became a best-seller. Her novels and writings, well-known for their concerns with diaspora, gender, culture and colonialism, have won numerous prizes.

Felton Earls is a Professor of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. His ground-breaking research work is a refutation of the theory of “broken windows,” replacing it with two other neighborhood variables: concentrated poverty and “collective efficacy,” which he defines as community and cooperative efforts of neighbors working together to improve their neighborhoods. He and his wife, Mary Carlson, a neurophysiologist, have founded the CHASE-Kilimanjaro (Child Health and Social Ecology) in Moshi, Tanzania, to strengthen community approaches to the health and well-being of children.

Anna Maria Gentili is a Professor of History and Institutions of Afro-Asian Countries at the University of Bologna. Major publications include Elites e Regimi politici in Africa Occidentale (1974), Africa come storia (1980) and Il Leone e il cacciatore. Storia dell Africa subsahariana (1995).

Adam Hochschild has written for The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, the New York Times Magazine, The Nation, and other publications. He also co-founded the magazine Mother Jones. Major publications include Half the Way Home: A Memoir of Father and Son (1986);King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa (1998); and Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves (2005). His books on the Congo and on the slave trade have been widely read and received numerous prizes. He teaches writing at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley.

Walter Turner is a Professor of History and Ethnic Studies at the College of Marin and Chair of the Department. He is the President of the Board of Directors for several San Francisco Bay Area nonprofits, including Sound Vision, Global Exchange, and the Institute for a New South Africa, which provides local government skills training for South African citizens. He also produces and hosts the popular Pacifica Radio program “Africa Today,” which airs weekly on KPFA in Berkeley, California. He has assisted human rights projects around the world, working closely with political prisoners and sustainable community development.

Ernest Wamba dia Wamba is founder and director of the Ota Benga Center for Human Dignity in Kinshasa, DRC. Born in Bas-Congo in 1942, he has taught history and philosophy at Boston College, Brandeis, Harvard, the State University of New York, and the University of Dar-es-Salaam. Areas of concentration about which he has written extensively include historiography, history of capitalism and imperialism, and history of Central Africa. From 1992–1995 he served as President of the Executive Committee of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA). He was an active participant in the Sovereign National Conference in the early 1990s that developed a proposed constitutional framework for democracy in the Congo, and participated in all phases of the Inter-Congolese political negotiations which led to the signing, on December 17, 2002, in Pretoria, South Africa, of the Global and Inclusive Accord. From 2003–2006, he served as a member of the Transitional Senate in the DRC and as the Vice-President of the Political, Administrative and Legal Permanent Commission, engaged in the process of drafting projects of laws for the Senate discussion and adoption.

For Peace, Dignity and Healing