The death of renowned Kenyan and globally respected scholar Ali Alamin Mazrui, on Monday morning in New York, US, has shocked many in the East African Community (EAC) .
Prof. Mazrui, one of Africa’s most respected scholars and political writers, passed on at the age of 81. According to family members, the renowned scholar was unwell for a couple of months.
On his Twitter page, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta paid tribute to the fallen scholar describing him as “a towering academician” whose intellectual contributions played a major role in shaping the academic world.
“Prof. Mazrui’s brilliance raised him to the apex of scholarly distinction and earned him respect and admiration globally. Prof. Mazrui’s literary works, debates and relentless cultivation of a global view of Africa have helped tell the continent’s true story,” said the Kenyan leader.
“Prof. Mazrui’s commitment to intellectual advancement will always remain etched in the minds of Kenyans. My prayers go to his family at this trying moment. I pray that God grants them strength and courage to cope with the tragic loss,” he added.
In Rwanda, former head of the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), Prof. Geoffrey Rugege, said: “I knew Prof. Ali Mazrui. He was a political science professor at Makerere University before he moved to the US. He was a prolific writer and did Africa proud. You could say he is in the league of Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe.”
MP Fred Mukasa Mbidde, a member of the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala), said: “We have missed a great mind, an authority and a historian who put Africa above self.”
“His works have greatly inspired us and the academia, consistently formed part of his many addresses and speeches the world over,” Mbidde said.
Amin Miramago, a Rwandan public servant, said: “Africa has lost one of its biggest libraries. I knew him as a prominent pan Africanist who was against neo-colonialism in all its forms. He also researched widely on African politics, international political culture, political Islam and North-South relations.”
Chris Kirubi, a Kenyan entrepreneur, said Prof. Mazrui’s contribution to the political world cannot go unnoticed.
“I got the news of Prof. Mazrui’s passing on with a lot of sadness because he was a true African and world intellectual who made a lasting contribution to our discourse,” Jenerali Ulimwengu, a Tanzanian political commentator, told The New Times.
Prof. Mazrui’s body, according to reports, will be flown to Kenya for burial in accordance with the late Professor’s wish.
He will be buried on Saturday at his ancestral home in Fort Jesus in Mombasa, the family spokesperson, Hammad Kassim Mazrui, told the media.
Born on February 24, 1933 in Mombasa, Mazrui was, at the time of his death, a professor at Binghamton University in New York.
A renowned scholar worldwide, Mazrui lectured in five continents and has authored more than 20 books. He is survived by two wives and five children.
Upon completing his education at Oxford University, Mazrui joined Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, where he served as head of the Department of Political Science and Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. He served at the University until 1973, when he was forced into exile by then Ugandan president Idi Amin.
In 1974, he joined the faculty of the University of Michigan as professor and was later appointed the Director of the Centre for Afroamerican and African Studies (1978–1981).
In 1989, he was appointed to the faculty of Binghamton University, State University of New York as the Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities and the Director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies (IGCS).
In 1999, Mazrui retired as the inaugural Walter Rodney Professor at the University of Guyana, Georgetown, Guyana.
He has been a visiting scholar at Stanford University, The University of Chicago, Colgate University, McGill University, National University of Singapore, Oxford University, Harvard University, Bridgewater State College, Ohio State University, and other institutions in Cairo, Australia, Leeds, Nairobi, Teheran, Denver, London, Baghdad, and Sussex, amongst others.
He was also a regular contributor to newspapers in Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa.