Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta described him as “a towering academician whose intellectual contributions played a major role in shaping African scholarship.”
Ali Mazrui, who died on this day in 2014 at the age of 81, was a household name in Kenya and across the world.
The scholar and prolific author is noted for numerous books and scholarly articles that “explored topics like African politics, international political culture, political Islam and globalization,” according to The New York Times.
Born in the coastal city of Mombasa in Kenya on February 24, 1933, Mazrui schooled at some of the world’s most prestigious universities. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Manchester, a master’s from Columbia in New York and a doctorate from Oxford.
In 1973, he began teaching at Makerere University in Uganda, where he was head of the Department of Political Science and Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences.
Later in the 1970s, Mazrui went into exile in the U.S. after criticizing the Ugandan regime led by Idi Amin and the Kenyan government under Daniel Arap Moi.
In 1986, he faced another barrage of criticism after writing and hosting “The Africans: A Triple Heritage,” a public television series that many described as an “endorsement of African nations acquiring nuclear weapons.”
Essentially, his works analysed some of the huge challenges currently facing the world as he wrote about terrorism and Islam.
Mazrui won several awards and in 2005, he was listed among the world’s top 100 public intellectuals.
At the time of his death on this day in 2014 at his home in Vestal, N.Y., Mazrui was an Albert Schweitzer professor in the humanities and the director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies at Binghamton University in New York.
“Indeed, death has robbed us of one of Kenya’s greatest scholars,” Kenyatta said after his death in 2014.
As Africa and the rest of the world mourn his passing, Face2Face Africa shares with you five of his famous quotes: