Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) – The burial of Prof. Ali Mazrui in Mombasa on Sunday, marked the end of an era and the beginning of a new reflection on what has mostly pushed out Africa’s intellectual giants to exile.
Prof. Mazrui, whose burial was followed by a lecture about his life, left a legacy hard to fill. Some of the most influential intellectual publications listed him among the world’s top 100-most influential thinkers.
Kenya’s current Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, said the death in exile of Mazrui should bring into focus, the reasons leading the “free-thinkers” into exile.
Mazrui’s first visit to Kenya only after the exit of former President Daniel Moi from power reflected his personal appreciation of the dangers posed to the intellectual community by authoritarian rule.
Prof. Mazrui died on 12 October in the US, aged 81. He was a professor at the Birmingham University. He was appointed a Chancellor of the Kenyatta University during President Mwai Kibaki’s tenure.
Former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who was among those detained during Kenya’s fight against single-party rule, said earlier that Mazrui pushed vigorously and courageously for Kenya to discard bad ways and self-inflicted pains in favour of a glorious future which he believed was possible.
In his academic works, Odinga said Mazrui celebrated Kenya and Africa’s successes and mourned its failures all the time hoping for the best for our nation.
“In the process, he put our country indelibly on the map of scholarly achievement,” Odinga said.
Mourners at Mazrui’s funeral hailed his decision to remain an African all through his life, deciding to be laid to rest at his family graveyard near Fort Jesus in Mombasa.
African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, mourned Mazrui as a “great Pan- Africanist.”
“It was with deep shock and sadness that I heard news of the passing on of our Pan-African icon,” Dlamini-Zuma said.
The AU hailed Mazrui as a distinguished scholar, writer and Pan-Africanist per excellence.
“His indomitable spirit will inspire us for many years to come and many more generations. His demise is great loss to his family, to his country, to our continent and indeed to humanity itself,” Dlamini-Zuma said.
Odinga said while mourning Mazrui, the universe should take solace in the knowledge that in passing on, Mazrui left behind a body of significant works that will forever stand to his credit.
The work he did will assure him of a lasting place of honour among the world’s greatest scholars, particularly of African history and politics, Odinga said.
The body of the late Kenyan academic was transported home on board a Turkish Airlines flight from New York, arriving home Sunday, accompanied by Mazrui’s second wife, Miriam, his Nigerian-born wife, alongside sons, Farid Chinedu and Harith Okechwuku.