Patrice Lumumba University

Welcome to a brief overview of one of the Soviet Union’s most fascinating and unique foreign development projects through the lens of African countries and students. The Peoples’ Friendship University (in Russian: universitet druzhby narodov or UDN), rechristened Patrice Lumumba University, was a post-secondary institution established in 1960 exclusively catering to students from developing countries in Asia, South America and, most importantly for this initiative, Africa. In its 50 years of existence under Soviet direction, the University boasted having produced 7,000 qualified professionals in 48 African countries.

Lumumba University was established in the context of decolonization and Soviet initiatives to promote educational cooperation with the so-called ‘Third World’. Our initiative seeks to provide information on the links between the University and African countries during the Cold War. The research done for the Winter 2021 seminar at the University of Ottawa in African History: "Battleground Africa: Cold War Burning Hot" sheds light on a key piece of Soviet educational policy towards the 'Third World' and emphasizes African states' agency in dictating the terms of the educational aid. 

Patrice Lumumba University in a Soviet Propaganda Film

This Soviet Propaganda film showcases the progress made through modernization in the USSR and the rapid societal advancement under socialism.

(Periscope Films) Watch from 3:14-3:35, English translation of transcription: “Patrice Lumumba University is one of the Soviet universities that prepares such specialists. Actively helping modern national liberation movements is an international duty of the Soviet government. This duty is as sacred as strengthening the power, unity, and solidarity of the socialistic world system.”


Dawson Couture and Aidan Elliot (University of Ottawa)