Kenyan prolific author and thinker 'A towering academician whose intellectual contributions played a major role in shaping African scholarship' Ali Mazrui was a scholar, thinker and prolific Kenyan author. He set off a tsunami of criticism in 1986 by writing and hosting 'The Africans: A Triple Heritage,' a public television series that culminated in what seemed to be an endorsement of African nations' acquiring nuclear weapons. The common theme, however, of the nine-part documentary was the impact on the continent of three distinct influences - indigenous African culture, Islam and Christianity. He painted a forceful picture of the damage done by colonialism. In the context of nation-building Ali Mazrui stood for the importance of critical thinking and free speech. He believed in African socialism. He was vociferous in his attacks against western cultural imperialism taking hold in Africa and Muslim world. He was also a scathing critic of the 'American arrogance of power in world politics'. Always willing to confront contentious issues Professor Mazrui's books and his hundreds of scholarly articles explored topics like African politics, international political culture, political Islam and globalisation. He was for many years a professor at the University of Michigan, and since 1989 had held the Albert Schweitzer chair at Binghamton University, State University of New York. Professor Mazrui was president of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists of North America and president of the African Studies Association of the United States. He advised the United Nations and the World Bank. He served on a number of international academic bodies and received numerous awards. Born Ali al-Amin Mazrui in Mombasa, he was the son of an eminent scholar and the chief Islamic judge of Kenya. He obtained a bachelor's degree from the University of Manchester, a master's from Columbia in New York and, in 1966, a doctorate from Oxford. He passed away at his home in Vestal, New York.
Compiler: M. Nauman Khan