I cannot say much here about Ali Mazrui because am so incapable of writing what this great African scholar deserve. I can only say Ali Mazrui has been my writing hero and inspiration. Even though I was never sure that I agreed with everything he wrote or said, I could never stop my eyes from reading whatever he wrote, be it a book, short essay, academic article, or newspaper column! His contribution to African literature on politics is invaluable.
I was not only lucky to have started reading Mazrui’s work since when I was 16 years old (one year before I joined undergraduate) but also very fortunate to have met him, drink a cup of tea and samosa with him (he only spoke to me in Kiswahili that day, which helped me to be very comfortable around him given my awareness of his sharpness, experience, and knowledge) in Nairobi. Prof. Mazrui had visited USIU campus in 2006 and he gave a public lecture on globalisation of which he described its different phases in Africa starting from 19th Century. In 2011, I attended a panel where Mazrui was speaking in Montreal, Canada (at the Comparative International Education Society Conference), and he spoke about “The Owl of Minerva” through which he talked about the evolution of Universities of East Africa and commented on the death of Osama bin Laden, who was killed a day before the panel.
Overall, I remember most of the things Mazrui wrote and have referred to him many a times in my blog entries, columns, and also academic works. My research on religion and international affairs could not escape Mazrui’s work.
Although I cannot remember from which of his many writings I exactly read the following, but I always remember these arguments of him among many other catch phrases in his various masterpieces: (I paraphrase):-
America has had a Luo President sooner than Kenya…
Senegal can be described as more democratic than USA as it had a Catholic President for several years while over 90% of population are Muslims…
Israel can be ready to use Samson option…(here I was impressed by his use of language and art derived from a Bible story to describe a policy or situation).
Well, I will miss Ali Mazrui…but his works will remain in my head forever. His writing style and mastery is what will forever live…his signature! His writing works and lectures have taught the importance of reading widely on culture, religious book, story books, fairy tales, etc…because you can use all of them in writing even academic writing.
He is my inspiration and hero!
Rest in Power baba! And I will now log in to Amazon and see whether I can find the collection of Pax Africana!