Ali Al’Amin Mazrui died in New York on October 12, 2014 at the age of 81 years. I first met Professor Ali Mazrui at the annual Meeting of the African Studies Association in Boston Massachusetts in November 1976. This was a memorable year for me because this was my first year in the Ph.D. Program at Howard University, and secondly, this was my first time of attending the African Studies Association Annual Conference, and also the year I joined the association and I have been an active member, and attending the Annual Meeting of the Association since. When I graduated in 1980, Professor Ali Mazrui offered me my first job, where he was the Director of Department of African and African American Studies to come and teach the Political Economy of Southern Africa in his department at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He offered me the job as an Assistant Professor immediately I completed my Ph.D. Dissertation, even before I was awarded the degree. However, being away from home for too long while pursuing all my university education in America, I was very anxious to go home and teach in a Nigerian University. Thus, I did not take Professor Mazrui’s offer of appointment.
As a graduate student, and later as a member of the academia, I have met Professor Mazrui on numerous occasions and I have also been on same panel with him at the Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association on some occasions. Ali Mazrui has written forty books, numerous Journal articles and hundreds of conference papers, but one of his books that have most impressions on me is The African Condition: A Political Diagnosis. This book came out of his 1979 BBC Reith Lectures. The book is about location in space and allocation in African society. It is concerned with Africa’s physical position on the world stage in relations to issues of economic distributions and social justice.
Professor Mazrui contributed a chapter to my latest edited book, AFRICA: The State of the Continent Fifty Years after the Liberation (2014). His chapter- “Half A Century of Pro-Democracy Uprising in Africa’s Experience: From Sharpeville to Benghazi.” In this chapter Mazrui deals with African struggle for liberation, and Democratic governance. Beginning from colonial rule, struggle against racial minority rule, the Sharpeville uprising in South Africa in 1960. The North Africa uprising through the Benghazi uprising that led to the assassination of Muamma Gaddafi of Libya in October 2011.
Professor Ali Mazrui was a Great Pan-Africanist. He was always kind and gracious. He was one of the brightest minds to ever come out of the African continent. He was always bubbling with new ideas all the time he was on the stage. Although he was born in Mombasa, Kenya, he was a global scholar. Intellectually his influence is immeasurable, and he was rated as one of 100 influential global scholars of the twentieth century.
Professor Mazrui, your light will shine brighter with each new day and night. And may your soul rest in perfect peace.
~ Layi Abegunrin