The Master Synthesizer Africanity and Islam in Ali Mazrui’s Scholarship

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Seifudein Adem

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Abstract

Ali Mazrui was born in 1933 in Mombasa, Kenya. Sent to England in 1955 for his secondary school education, he remained there until he earned hisB.A. (1960, politics and philosophy) with distinction from the University of Manchester. He received his M.A. (1961, government and politics) and Ph.D. (1966, philosophy) from Columbia and Oxford universities, respectively. In Africa, he taught political science at Uganda’s Makerere University College (1963-73), and then returned to the United States to teach at the University of Michigan (1974-91) and New York’s Binghamton University (1991-2014). An avatar of controversy, Mazrui was also legendary for the fertility of his mind. Nelson Mandela viewed him as “an outstanding educationist” 1 and Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations, referred to him as “Africa’s gift to the world.”2 Salim Ahmed Salim, former secretary-general of the Organization of African Unity and prime minister of Tanzania wrote: Ali Mazrui provided [many of us] with the illuminating light to understand the reality we have been confronting. He armed us with the tools of engagement and inspired us with his eloquence, clarity of ideas while all the time maintaining the highest degree of humility, respect for fellow human beings, and an unflagging commitment to justice.

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