About Ali A. Mazrui 

(24 February 1933 – 12 October 2014)

Ali A. Mazrui was the IGCS Director and Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities/Professor in Political Science, African Studies and Philosophy, Interpretation and Culture

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Ali A. Mazrui was born in Mombasa, Kenya, on February 24, 1933. He is now Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities and Director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies at Binghamton University, State University of New York. He was also Albert Luthuli Professor-at-Large at the University of Jos in Nigeria. He was Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large Emeritus and Senior Scholar in Africana Studies at Cornell University. Dr. Mazrui also served as Chancellor of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya — an appointment made by Kenya's Head of State. Mazrui was Ibn Khaldun Professor-at-Large, Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences, Leesburg, Virginia (1997–2000). He was also Walter Rodney Professor at the University of Guyana, Georgetown, Guyana (1997–1998).

Mazrui obtained his B.A. with Distinction from Manchester University in England, his M.A. from Columbia University in New York, and his doctorate from Oxford University in England. For ten years he was at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, where he served as head of the Department of Political Science, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences as well as Dean of the Faculty of Law. He once served as Vice-President of the International Political Science Association and has lectured in five continents. Professor Mazrui also served as Professor of Political Science (1974–1991) and as Director of the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies (1978–1981) at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. He was also Visiting Scholar at Stanford, Chicago, Colgate, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Oxford, Harvard, Bridgewater, Cairo, Leeds, Nairobi, Teheran, Denver, London, Ohio State, Baghdad, McGill, Sussex, Pennsylvania, etc. Dr. Mazrui also served as Special Advisor to the World Bank. He also served on the Board of Directors of the American Muslim Council, Washington, DC, and served as Chair of the Board of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, Washington, DC. He was also on the Board of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, and was a Fellow of the Institute of Governance and Social Research, Jos, Nigeria.  He served as President of Muslim Social Scientists of North America and was elected Senior Fellow of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University, Washington, DC.

In 2005 the American journal, Foreign Policy (Washington, DC), and the British Journal, Prospect (London), nominated Ali Mazrui among the top 100 public intellectuals alive in the world as a whole. Foreign Policy is published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, New York. Mazrui was earlier elected an Icon of the Twentieth Century by Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, USA. In 2007 he was nominated for the Living Legends Award by the Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS] and the African Communications Association.

His more than thirty books include Towards a Pax Africana (1967), and The Political Sociology of the English Language (1975). He also published a novel entitled The Trial of Christopher Okigbo (1971). His research interests included African politics, international political culture, political Islam, and North-South relations. His most comprehensive books include A World Federation of Cultures: An African Perspective (published by the Free Press in New York in 1976) and Cultural Forces in World Politics (James Currey and Heinemann, 1990). Among his books on language in society is The Power of Babel: Language and Governance in Africa's Experience (co-author Alamin M. Mazrui) (James Currey and University of Chicago Press, 1998), which was launched in the House of Lords, London, at a historic ceremony saluting Mazrui's works. He and Alamin M. Mazrui also worked on a project on Black Reparations in the Era of Globalization. His most recent books include Islam Between Globalization and Counterterrorism (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press and Oxford: James Currey Publishers, 2006); A Tale of Two Africas: Nigeria and South Africa as Contrasting Visions (London: Adonis-Abbey, 2006) and The Politics of War and the Culture of Violence (Trenton, NJ, Africa World Press, 2008).

Dr. Mazrui also wrote for magazines and newspapers. He published in The Times (London), The New York Times, The Sunday Nation (Nairobi), Transition (Kampala and Cambridge, MA, USA), Al-Ahram (Cairo), The Guardian (London) and (Lagos), The Economist (London) and The Cumhuriyet (Istanbul and Ankara), Yomiuri Shimbun (Tokyo and Osaka), The Standard (Nairobi), International Herald Tribune (Paris), Elsevier (Amsterdam), Los Angeles Times Syndicate (USA) and Afrique 2000 (Brussels and Paris), City Press (Johannesburg), and The Monitor (Kampala).  Professor Mazrui also wrote syndicated articles on behalf of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, New York, USA.

Dr. Mazrui's most influential articles of the last forty years have been republished by Africa World Press in three volumes under the overall editorship of Dr. Toyin Falola of the University of Texas. Mazrui's "Millennium Harvard lectures" have been published under the title, The African Predicament and the American Experience: A Tale of Two Edens (Westport and London: Praeger, 2004).

Dr. Mazrui was awarded honorary doctorates by several universities in disciplines which have ranged from Divinity to Sciences of Human Development, from Humane Letters to Political Economy. He was also a former research fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Palo Alto, and the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, Stanford, California. The President of Kenya awarded him the National Honour of Commander of the Order of the Burning Spear [C.B.S.], First Class, and the President of South Africa made him Grand Companion of Oliver Tambo (2007).

Professor Mazrui was married and had five sons (Jamal, Al'Amin, Kim Abubakar, Farid Chinedu and Harith Ekenechukwu) and one adopted daughter (Grace Jennifer). Dr. Mazrui was a Kenyan. One of his sons is also Kenyan and four are US citizens.

Dr. Mazrui was President of the African Studies Association of the United States (1978 to 1979) and Vice-President of the International Congress of African Studies (1979–1991). He was also Vice-President of the Royal Africa Society in London. Dr. Mazrui was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, and member of the College of Fellows of the International Association of Middle Eastern Studies. In 1979 Dr. Mazrui delivered the prestigious annual Reith Lectures of the British Broadcasting Corporation (named for the founder Director-General of the BBC, Lord Reith). The lectures (entitled The African Condition) have since been repeatedly reprinted by Cambridge University Press. Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, has extended to him the DuBois-Garvey Award for Pan-African Unity. In 1999 he gave the Eric Williams Memorial lecture sponsored by the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago. In 2007 Mazrui was elected President of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists, Washington, DC. Dr. Mazrui has been received by Heads of State in Africa and elsewhere.

In 1998 Professor Mazrui was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, England, and to the Board of Directors of the National Summit on Africa, Washington, DC. The year 1998 also marked the publication of the first comprehensive annotated bibliography of all Mazrui's works (printed and electronic) from 1962 to 1997 [The Mazruiana Collection, compiled by Abdul S. Bemath, and published by Sterling in New Delhi and Africa World Press in New Jersey]. An enlarged edition of Bemath's book has been published under the title of The Mazruiana Collection Revisited (New Dawn Press and Africa Institute of South Africa, 2005). Another book entitled The Global African: A Portrait of Ali A. Mazrui, edited by Omari H. Kokole, had also been published by Africa World Press in 1998.

A recent evaluation of Dr. Mazrui's scholarly contribution by other scholars is published in the book Public Intellectuals in the Politics of Global Africa (London, 2011), edited by Seifudein Adem.

Dr. Mazrui's television work includes the widely discussed 1986 series The Africans: A Triple Heritage, (BBC and PBS). A book by the same title has been jointly published by BBC Publications and Little, Brown and Company. In 1986 the book was a best seller in Britain and was adopted or recommended by various Book Clubs in the USA, including the Book of the Month Club. Dr. Mazrui also published hundreds of articles in five continents.

The wide range of journals in which Dr. Mazrui published since 1990 alone include International Affairs (London), Internationle Politik (Bonn), East African Journal of Peace and Human Rights (Kampala), Kajian Malaysia (Penang), International Journal of the Sociology of Language (Berlin), Islamic Studies (Islamabad), Foreign Affairs (New York), Revue Africaine de Developpement (Abidjan), International Journal of Refugee Law (New York), and International Political Science Journal (Oxford).

Ali Mazrui was widely consulted on many issues including constitutional change and educational reform. Dr. Mazrui was involved in a number of UN projects on matters which have ranged from human rights to nuclear proliferation. He was also internationally consulted on Islamic culture and Muslim history. He was editor of Volume VIII (Africa since 1935) of the UNESCO General History of Africa (1993). He also served as Expert Advisor to the United Nations Commission on Transnational Corporations. Professor Mazrui has served on the editorial boards of more than twenty international scholarly journals. He won the Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and the Distinguished Africanist Award of the African Studies Association of the USA. He was a member of the Royal Commonwealth Trust and the Atheneum Club (London) and the United Kenya Club (Nairobi). Dr. Mazrui's services to the Organization of African Unity and the African Union include membership of the Group of Eminent Persons appointed in 1992 by the O.A.U. Presidential Summit to explore the issues of African Reparations for Enslavement and Colonization. He was also among the Eminent Personalities who advised on the transition from the OAU to the African Union (2002).

Last Updated: 8/5/16