Tuesday, 14 October 2014


Renowned Kenyan scholar Ali Alamin Mazrui passed away Monday morning, October 13, 2014 in Binghamton, New York, in the United States.
Prof Mazrui passed away at the age of 81 and family members say he was unwell for several months.
Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) chairperson Mr Khelef Khalifa said the body of Prof Mazrui will be flown to Kenya for burial.
“His nephew, Alamin Mazrui, has confirmed that the professor’s wish was to be buried in Kenya,” he said.
Prof Mazrui was born on February 24, 1933, in Mombasa.
At the time of his death, he was a professor at Binghamton University in New York.
President Uhuru Kenyatta sent his message of condolence to the family of the late Mazrui, whom he described as a “a towering academician whose intellectual contributions played a major role in shaping African scholarship”.
The President said Prof Mazrui was one of the greatest scholars Kenya and the continent have ever produced.
“Am deeply saddened by the passing on of the professor. Indeed, death has robbed us of one of Kenya’s greatest scholars,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta said Prof. Mazrui’s literary works, debates and relentless cultivation of a global view of Africa have helped to tell the continent’s story.
Prof Mazrui is a renowned scholar worldwide, having lectured in five continents and written 30 books. He once served as chancellor of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
He is survived by a wife and six children.

Ugandan academics mourn, laud Prof Ali Mazrui’s strides

The late Prof Ali Mazrui. President Kenyatta, Cord leader Raila Odinga, Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and retired President Mwai Kibaki were among national leaders to pay tribute and send their condolences to the family and friends of Prof Mazrui, who was 81. FILE PHOTO 
By Joseph ssemutooke

Posted  Tuesday, October 14  2014 at  01:00
Kampala. Yesterday morning, tremours rocked academic circles around the world as news broke that Prof Ali Alamin Mazrui, the world-renown Kenyan scholar with so many connections to Uganda, had passed on in Binghamton, New York in the United States. From New York, the professor’s family members confirmed the news of the 81-year-old academic luminary’s death, revealing that he had been unwell for a couple of months. And in his native Kenya next door, the chairperson of Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri), an NGO to which Prof Mazrui had strong ties, revealed that the deceased‘s body is to be flown back to the East African country for burial as per a wish the professor made.
In Uganda, Professor Mazrui’s death not only sent many into mourning, especially in the academic spheres. Many from Ugandan academic spheres paid glowing tributes to the deceased professor –lauding his trailblasing journey, the accomplishments he scored over his long career and the values he stood for as a person.
Prof Apolo Nsibambi, one of the few living contemporaries of Professor Mazrui in the pioneer batch of non-European lecturers at Makerere University’s former Faculty of Social Sciences, went on to laud the professor’s contribution to Makerere University.
“He animated the university and made the political education department a major player both within and outside Uganda,” said Prof Nsibambi. “I also remember, some people had a habit of quoting only Western academics, but Prof Mazrui would quote even the books and articles of Africans too, especially of Ugandans. He played a big role in having people at Makerere quote the papers of Ugandans, and he would encourage us to develop our own local academia.”
For some of the outstanding arguments for which Prof Mazrui should be remembered in Uganda, Prof Nsibambi said the deceased highlighted the question of a national language in Uganda. “He addressed the failure of government in taking deliberate efforts to introduce Swahili as a national language,” Prof Nsibambi said. He also pointed out the late Mazrui’s address on the question of the East African Federation, saying he made interesting analyses of the topic such as the irony-rich quip that “Tanzania has shown the greatest will for the federation, but her actions are anti-federation.”
Prof A.B. Kasozi, a former head of the National Council for Higher Education and a former student of Prof. Mazrui’s at Makerere University, says it is sad the academic world has lost someone who took the university to the public and critically questioned the way the government saw the university. “He never saw the university as an ideological institution, but a teaching and research instrument, and he defended his view in the face of a harsh government,” said Prof. Kasozi.
He also lauded Prof. Mazrui’s balanced thinking which enabled him to never regret belonging to Islam while on the same never letting Islam to dominate his outlook. “He was an intellectual who looked at the mind first irrespective of its ethnic, tribal, religious or other such sectarian inclination.”
He was a mentor
For Prof Augustus Nuwagaba, it is a sad loss of a role model of Ugandan academia. “He provided me and so many other Ugandan scholars with frameworks and approaches which have proved invaluable, which we have used to get where we are. I congratulate Makerere for having produced such an eminent person.”
Prof Nuwagaba points out that Mazrui should always be remembered for, among others, his firm stand on issues of global trade architecture and his objectivity regarding internationalisation and globalisation. “He showed that globalisation ought to create an equal society and castigated the current tendency of globalisation to create an unequal world,” Prof. Nuwagaba says.
Dr Nansozi Muwanga, the Head of the Department of Political Science at Makerere University’s School of Social Sciences, says as a department, they mourn the loss of a person who lifted the department and the entire school to lofty heights both locally and internationally.
Mazrui’s legacy
She adds that the legacy of Prof Mazrui as a lecturer who encouraged critical thinking and opened up debates is one worth celebrating, and further lauds the deceased for his lifelong love for Makerere and Uganda, which love saw him at one time attempt to add Ugandan citizenship to the Kenyan one he already had.
Veteran educationist Fagil Mandy describes Prof. Mazrui as an academic who was “not a common teacher, not just an intellectual, but a revolutionary.” “We have seen many mere readers of books, but Prof. Mazrui was one of those who go beyond just reading books,” says Fagil Mandy.
“Mazrui was a man who used his academic career to be a changer of situations, a pan-Africanist who used his entire academic work to make a wholesome socio-political-economic analysis for the betterment of Africa.”

Who is Mazrui?
Ali Alamin Mazrui was born in Mombasa on February 24, 1933, into the aristocratic Mazrui clan. As his father was a top Muslim, Mazrui got his primary and secondary education from a Mombasa Islamic school which admitted only Arabs and Black Muslims.
Unfortunately, Mazrui failed his Cambridge certificate exams, scoring a third grade owing to what he called a lack of motivation. Unable to be admitted to Makerere University or any other university where students with better grades went for further studies, he began working as a clerk in a polytechnic school. here, his sharp mind was noticed and he received a scholarship to study in Britain.

By 1961, had got a BA and MA from the University of Manchester and Columbia University respectively. He embarked on his PhD at Oxford University in 1962, with the aim of ultimately working for the UN, but Makerere University convinced him to take up a position as lecturer in 1963. By 1965, Mazrui had been appointed Professor of Political Science, a year before he received his PhD in 1966, becoming the first African Professor in East Africa. He has not only been one of Africa’s most prolific scholars, with more than 30 books and more than 100 scholarly articles to his name, but also one of the most controversial. Among his most memorable controversies was description of Wole Soyinka as “an inexact and careless scholar… prone to either overactive imagination or poetic hallucinations,” which sparked a protracted media exchange between the two.
Mazrui was married twice and is survived by five sons.

What kenyan leaders say about him
“ Prof Mazrui was a towering academician whose intellectual contributions played a major role in shaping African scholarship...Prof. Mazrui’s legacy and commitment to intellectual advancement will always remain etched in Kenyans’ minds...” Uhuru kenyatta, Kenyan President.
“We have lost an intellectual giant and an important player in the pre and post-independence history of Africa who gave credence to the existence of African history pre dating colonialism. We thank God for a life dedicated to humanity and Africa...” Raila Odinga, former kenyan PM

Makerere University will launch a 3-year capital campaign of recognition in perpetuity of the legendary Professor Ali A. Mazrui on August 11, 2009.
According to Mr. Nuha Mwesigwa, Executive Director and Founder Member of Makerere University Private Sector Forum (MUPSF), this will be during a high profile-high value ceremony on the Main Campus of the University that will be rich in academic rituals and symbolisms.

Out of the synergy of this academia/private sector interface, MUPSF conceived the Makerere Mazruiana Project, in particular its Endowment and resources for completing the Centre for Global Studies, as a unique resource mobilization strategy for Makerere University.

This is probably the first endowment project of its type and size undertaken by a national or public University in East Africa. Its impact will be revolutionary as it brings the onset of a Makerere Renaissance out of current declining standards, infrastructure decay and constrained resource availability.
This special day in the history of Makerere will begin with a general procession from the Main Gate up to the Faculty of Social Sciences where Professor Mazrui was Dean, Head of Department and Professor of Political Science and Public Administration. From there, an Academic Procession will proceed to the Main Hall.

It will be composed of Professor Mazrui’s contemporaries at Makerere; Deans and Directors; Makerere University’s Honourary Professors; and a select group of outstanding former Makerere Student Guild Presidents since Mazrui’s days at Makerere. 

In the Main Hall, where Professor Mazrui used to deliver his standing-room-only-public lectures, Professor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile, Governor, Bank of Uganda, Patron of the soon to be launched Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile Policy Centre—A Think Tank at Makerere University, and former Student Guild President will read the Resolution and Declaration of the Makerere University Private Sector Forum (MUPSF) to so honour and recognize Professor Ali A. Mazrui in perpetuity through the proposed US $ 5 million Ali A. Mazrui Chair and Scholarship Endowment and the US$ 10 million East African Ali A. Mazrui Centre for Global Studies at Makerere University—together constituting the Makerere Mazruiana Project!  

This will be followed by a Citation of Excellence in honour of Professor Mazrui read by Professor Edward K. Kirumira, current Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and 7th successor to Professor Mazrui as Dean. Next will be the Acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Lillian Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza’s Oratory of Academic Excellence and Recognition of Professor Mazrui who is proud of Makerere University as the cradle of his global fame.

Thereafter, the Chancellor, Professor Mondo Kagonyera, will install Professor Mazrui onto his ceremonial and symbolic “Ali A. Mazrui Chair” emblazoned with Makerere University’s logo. And then Professor Mazrui will deliver his acceptance lecture….

These academic rituals and ceremonies during the launch will constitute the kick-start of a 3-year campaign to raise a minimum of US$ 15 million for the proposed Makerere Mazruiana Project.

2.0 What is Makerere Mazruiana?

The Makerere Mazruiana is an initiative of the Makerere University Private Sector Forum (MUPSF). It is the first of five (5) pioneering innovation of the first-ever Professorial Chairs and Scholarship Endowments conceived and to be developed locally by Makerere University. Its objectives are to:

Recognize and celebrate the success of outstanding Alumni, former Lecturers,     Professors/Deans and Friends of Makerere while they are still alive;
  • Memorialize and commemorate the legacies and lifetime achievements of Makerere’s outstanding Alumni,former Lecturers, Professors/Deans and Friends;
  • Provide role models to inspire and mentor current and future Makerere University and other public university students, in particular, to aspire to excellence.

The proposed Ali A. Mazrui Chair and Scholarship Endowment will support national and/or internationally credentialed research professors and lecturers in teaching, research and writing at Makerere University for a specified period.

Further, the academic pursuits and research competences of the holder(s) of the Ali A. Mazrui Chair will be consistent with Professor Mazrui’s global scholarship and leadership that began at Makerere University.The Ali A. Mazrui Scholarship will support qualified student interns, undergraduate and graduate research and post-graduate fellowships at Makerere University.

These will be focused on multi-and inter-disciplinary research and areas relevant to the educational and sustainable development needs and priorities of Uganda and East Africa. Beneficiaries of the Mazrui Scholarship will have the honour to be known as “Ali A. Mazrui Scholars”.

The proposed East African Ali A. Mazrui Centre for Global Studies at Makerere University will be out of completed construction, equipping and furnishing of the current structure next to the Faculty of Social Sciences. This was begun as an East African project of the Institute of Statistics and Applied Economics in the 1970s.

The Mazrui Centre for Global Studies will therefore be a 21st century state-of-the-art multi-storey complex housing the Mazrui Resource Centre—a state-of-the-art resource centre fully equipped with the latest information, communication and technology (ICT) and resources.

It will also house the Mazrui Professorial Chair and Scholarship Endowment; the entire Mazruiana Collection in literary and electronic forms; comprehensive Mazrui photo gallery and archive; and appropriate display of all Mazrui awards, prizes, significant speeches, public lectures, and all other Mazrui academic and professional narratives, etc.

In the resource centre will be the “Mazrui Africa Hall of Fame” to recognize significant contributors, partners and donors to the Ali A. Mazrui Centre for Global Studies. Thus, Makerere Mazruiana is set to be an educational and developmental flagship in East Africa that will strengthen the Community and its integration.

3.0 Makerere Mazruiana Inauguration February 2010:
The August 11, 2009 launch is but a prelude to what is billed to be a much bigger and globally high profiled Makerere Mazruiana Inauguration next year during the last week of February 2010.

This will also coincide with Professor Mazrui’s 77th Birthday. It will feature Professor Mazrui’s ultimate public lecture as well as include inauguration of the Mazrui Chair and Scholarship Endowment, groundbreaking for the Mazrui Centre for Global Studies, and a Grand Makerere Re-Union.

The February 2010 Inauguration will also be planned to coincide with Black History Month Celebrations when African-Americans, in particular, celebrate their history and achievements. The Black History Month Celebrations of February 2010 will be poignant because it will be soon after President Obama’s one year in power as the first African-American President of the USA.

Given Obama’s excellent educational/academic achievement and his Kenyan/East African ancestral roots; given Professor Mazrui’s Kenyan homeland and Makerere/Uganda as his true academic home: the Makerere Mazruiana Inauguration in February 2010 will be poignant for both President Obama and Professor Mazrui.

Appropriately, therefore, Professor Mazrui proposed the theme of the Makerere Mazruiana Inauguration, which MUPSF accepted, to be “From Othello to Obama: the Concept of Global Africa”.

Those with a keen recollection will hear in this theme an echo of Professor Mazrui’s epochal BBC TV series: The Africans. Thus, the Makerere Mazruiana Inauguration in February 2010 at Makerere University, East Africa’s oldest University, will be a historic and poignant event for Africa and her global Diaspora from all over the world.

4.0 Towards a Makerere Renaissance:

The Makerere Mazruiana Project fits within the vision of Makerere University to be a centre of academic excellence, providing world-class teaching, research and service relevant to sustainable development needs of society.

Inspired by this vision, Makerere’s 105th University Council authorized formation of the Makerere University Private Sector Forum (MUPSF) in 2006 to be a two way bridge between Academia and the Private Sector.

Out of the synergy of this academia/private sector interface, MUPSF conceived the Makerere Mazruiana Project, in particular its Endowment and resources for completing the Centre for Global Studies, as a unique resource mobilization strategy for Makerere University.

This is probably the first endowment project of its type and size undertaken by a national or public University in East Africa. Its impact will be revolutionary as it brings the onset of a Makerere Renaissance out of current declining standards, infrastructure decay and constrained resource availability.

For if it was gold yesterday, Makerere will still be gold today and tomorrow, even though she may have been badly trampled and covered in mud.

Already, glimpses of a Makerere Renaissance can be seen in advances and new developments of faculties and programs such as the cutting edge Faculty of Computing and Information Technology (FCIT), innovations in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, School of Environment, and new programs such as Gender Mainstreaming and Women Studies, Food Science Technology, Conflict and Peace Studies, etc.

However, nothing demonstrates onset of a Makerere Renaissance better than Makerere students from the Faculty of Technology who are engaged in designing and building one of the worlds’ most fuel efficient cars in Italy.

They qualified to be part of an international team of University students from the world’s top universities, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, in this project. Perhaps excerpts from Memories of Makerere’s Golden Years by one of Makerere’s alumni provide tangible hope for a Makerere Renaissance.

These are the memories of Dr Dharam Ghai, former Director of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, Geneva; Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi; and former Makerere Economics Lecturer in the 1960s: 

I came to Makerere in 1961 as a young man of 25. I was working on my doctorate in economics at Yale         University when I decided that I had     been away too long and needed to     get back home to play my part in nation- building....Makerere University College was at that time the only university level institution in East Africa.

In fact it trained students not only from the three East African countries but also further down from Nyasaland and Northern and Southern Rhodesia - then members of the Central African Federation controlled largely by European settlers.

The Lectureship in Economics that I had applied for had become vacant when the incumbent Mwai Kibaki    resigned to take up the post of the Executive Officer of Kenya African National Union.

In subsequent years,I used to boast that in my first job, I succeeded the President of Kenya! This was my first visit to Kampala....

The Makerere campus was spread out on a hill amidst rolling lawns and  groves of trees and bushes. Apart from the central administration, the campus had halls of residence, several faculties, science laboratories and sports facilities including tennis and squash courts and a swimming pool.

As an academic institution, Makerere boasted of high standards.

Entry to Makerere was fiercely competitive. The faculty was largely expatriate, with most staff members drawn from British universities. The graduating students were awarded London University degrees, which also reviewed the course content and examination papers and student grades.

Its medical and agricultural schools enjoyed international reputation while the East African Institute of Social Research was a leader in Africa on anthropological and sociological research.

It also boasted an excellent School of Fine Arts. The four years I spent at Makerere were truly its golden period. The College attracted out standing scholars to its faculty.

A considerable amount of money poured in to strengthen its medical, agriculture and social science     faculties. Many gifted graduate students came from abroad to work on their doctorates for prestigious  universities.

Numerous seminars and conferences held at the campus added to its vibrant intellectual environment. The social life at Makerere was relaxed and enjoyable.

Many of our students subsequently became well-known names. I recall Benjamin Mkapa, active as a student journalist, who was twice elected as the President of Tanzania.

Apollo Nsibambi, my student in Economics, went on to become Uganda’ Prime Minister. Another of my students, the late Philip Ndegwa, held most of the top civil service jobs, was Governor of the Central Bank and a leading businessman in Kenya, while also writing several books and articles on African development problems.
James Ngugi, as he was then, became a famous novelist while still an undergraduate with his book       Weep Not Child. John Nagenda occupied high positions in journalism     ending up as a Presidential         spokesman.

There were many others who later became permanent secretaries, central bank governors, ministers and    prominent businessmen.

Among the foreign graduate students, some friends in the social sciences come to mind. Joseph Nye, who did his doctoral dissertation for Oxford on East African Integration, subsequently became Dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

Richard Jolly, my colleague at Yale, went on to become Director of the Institute for Development Studies at Sussex and Deputy Director of UNICEF. Michael Todaro won great distinction as the creator of a new model of rural-urban migration and became the author of a bestselling text on economic development.

Charles Frank went on to become a prominent Washington policy advisor and Chief Economist, European Development Bank. Brian van Arkadie and Reginald Green became prominent development economists and advisors to African governments and international agencies.

When I joined Makerere, I was among a handful of East African members of the academic staff.

Among them were famous artists Gregory Maloba and Elimu Njau; the biologist David Wasawo who subsequently became Deputy Vice- Chancellor, University Nairobi; the geographer Simeon Ominde, later Professor of Geography and Director, Centre for Population Studies, also at Nairobi; and Senteza Kajubi, a prominent educationist.

In subsequent years, the East African contingent was much reinforced by the addition of the eminent historian Alan Ogot, the world famous Ali Mazrui and Yash Tandon, now Executive Director, South Centre.

The Ugandan poet, Bitek Okot, the author of The Song of Lawino, was a major literary figure at the campus.

Among the economists, I recall Semei Nyanzi and Yoweri Kyesimira who went on to become respectively the Director of the Uganda Development Corporation and a senior advisor at UNEP.

The campus also hosted many well- known expatriate academics. Colin Leys, a former Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, was Professor of Political Science, and Raymond Apthorpe of the Sociology Department, later to become Professor at the Institute of Social Studies at The Hague.

Paul Clarke, who headed the newly created Economic Development Research Project (EDRP), Philip     Bell,Professor of Economics and Ian Livingstone, who subsequently became Professor at the University of     Essex, were all prominent economists.

Makerere also attracted expatriate literary figures. Paul Theroux, now a famous novelist, was then teaching English in the Department of Extra- Mural Studies.

In 1965/1966,Makerere was honoured to have as a Visiting Professor no less a figure than VS Naipaul, the controversial writer, who subsequently won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Makerere also hosted the first ever conference of African writers that brought togetherleading novelists   and poets from all over Africa....!

By so recognizing Professor Mazrui, East Africa’s oldest University College has not only revisited the memories of her golden years when she was the cradle of Professor Mazrui’s rise to global fame, but has also embarked on a renaissance that will make Makerere reclaim her past glory and even pass the Memories of her Golden Years.

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