That Dr Tajudeen Abdul Raheem, should die on the day Africa celebrates its liberation, a cause he dedicated the greater part of his life to, is not only ironic but tragic.
Tajudeen as he is affectionately known by his friends, died in the early hours of May 25, on his way to a meeting here in Rwanda.
He died just when Africans entered the 46th anniversary of the set up of a united Africa, under the Organisation of African Unity, (OAU), which was later transformed into the African Union (AU) in 1992.
The aim of the organization; being to promote the unity and solidarity of the African states and act as a collective voice for the African continent.
The charismatic relentless fighter for Africa’s liberation often declared that Rwanda is his second home - a Nigerian by birth, Tajudeen lived in Uganda for the greater part of the past 20 years, then moving to Nairobi, Kenya, where he died from.
In contemporary Africa Tajudeen carried on the mantle of pan-African leadership, in his capacity as Secretary General of the Global Pan African Movement (GPAM); he carried on the historical legacy of luminaries; Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr., Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, among others.
As a pan-Africanist, Tajudeen touched the lives of a diverse people becoming an embodiment of the pan-African struggle; as he connected, both younger and older generations, along diverse issues, to do with Africa’s post-colonial liberation.
His thought provoking Pan-African post cards, focused on Africa’s leadership, tackled issues to do with the economy, corruption and governance at a broader level.
Not only will Tajudeen be remembered for the boom of his voice, absolute charm, charisma, refined intellect, his trademark beard; Africa has lost a man who had the integrity and stamina to stand up when everyone else was afraid to do so.
Tajudeen tackled issues head-on, had no sacred cows, a fierce critic at times, even of his closest friends – however there was no love lost. Often a result of some of the inherent contradictions within the Global Pan African Movement.
Here in Rwanda after the unfair, illegal, detaining of Director of State Protocol, Rose Kabuye, in Germany, Tajudeen was one of the first to comment: “Germany, a country that should be more sympathetic to victims of the Genocide given its own tragic history, has shown where its sympathies lie by arresting Kabuye and in the same week releasing FDLR leaders.”
That he should die on his way to a country he identified with so closely, without fulfilling his cause is a loss, not just to Rwanda but to Africans.
We never know what message Tajudeen had prepared for us as he embarked on his way to the airport. Perhaps we shall never know, but hold close to our hearts that we lost a dear friend indeed.