Literary giant, Ali Mazrui: He offered me my first job & contributed a chapter to one of my books – Layi Abegunrin

October 27, 2014

Africa, Arts & Culture

Ali A. Mazrui died in New York on October 12, 2014 at the age of 81.

I first met Professor Ali Mazrui at the Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association in Boston Massachuetts 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, it was my first year of attending African Studies Association Annual Conference and also the year that I joined the association; I have been an active member, and have attended 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 teach the Political Economy of Southern Africa in his department at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He offered me the job immediately I completed my Ph.D. Dissertation, even before I was awarded the degree. However, being away from home for too long while doing all my university education in America, I was very anxious to return home and teach at a Nigerian University, thus I did not take Professor Mazrui’s offer of appointment.

As a graduate student, and later as a member of academia, I met Professor Mazrui on numerous occasions and I was also on same panel with him at the Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association on some occasions. Ali Mazrui wrote forty books, numerous articles and hundreds of conference papers, but one of his books that has left a lasting impression 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 in relations to issues of economic distribution and social justice.

Professor Mazrui contributed a chapter to my latest book, AFRICA: The State of the Continent Fifty Years after the Liberation (2014). His chapter – “Half A Century of Pro-Democracy Uprisings in Africa’s Experience: From Sharpeville to Benghazi.” In this chapter Mazrui deals with African liberation and Democratic governance. Beginning from colonial rule, struggle against racial minority rule, the Sharpeville upraising in South Africa in 1960. The North Africa uprising through the Benghazi uprising that led to the assassination of Muammar Gaddafi 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 the 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 is a professor of Political Science at Howard University, Washington, D.C.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2014.  8:00 p.m. [GMT]

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2 Comments on “Literary giant, Ali Mazrui: He offered me my first job & contributed a chapter to one of my books – Layi Abegunrin”

  1. Says:

    Prof Abegunrin from Ikire is one of our key men here in MD, and is a close friend and mate to all my classmates from St. Charles from Ikire. We are in quite a few social circles as well as a few Think Tanks. An academic that we are all very proud of, he has nothing less than 4 books published among which is the one in which with the late literary giant, Mazrui has a chapter. He is someone you should meet when next around.

    Cheers, Lati



    • emotanglobal Says:

      Dear Doctor,

      Thanks for this.

      I look forward to your offer which should bring a long-time promise to fruition!




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