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Mazrui: Man, Mission, Movement

Sheikh, Naveed S.



In the checkered history of Africology, from early colonial endeavors
to the brave new world of postcolonialist dissections, few scholars
elicited the excitement and adoration that Professor Ali Al-Amin Mazrui
(1933-2014) did. On the very continent that he studied so intensely, libraries,
educational centers, and roads have been named for him posthumously
in recognition of his manifold contributions. And yet, although
rare by the standards of academic aloofness, the adulation of his defenders
was matched by the abrasive disdain and aberrant hostility of
his detractors, some of whom were undoubtedly driven by intellectual
or political opposition to his underlying project of reviving non-western
consciousness during an era so marked by the supposed universalism
of western finance, culture, and militarism.
To be certain, though, Mazrui was not fazed by such criticism or
challenge; instead, it would appear that he rather thrived on controversy,
relishing each emergent opportunity to provide correctives to the received
wisdom. Indeed, when writing, Mazrui was often schooling. His
deliberately provocative pronouncements, in prose and speech, would
question and rattle, but always make, in demonstrative (rather than didactic)
terms, poignant points about errors perceptual and praxeological.
In so doing, Mazrui – clearly inspired by the finesse of his Oxford
doctoral training – was not shy to adopt riveting rhetorical devices:
irony, hyperbole, and simile abounded. Such devices, however, did not
obscure the structured ways, even if implicit, through which his analysis
unfolded. When he took the time, he would reason as well as argue in
clear schemata by employing binaries, triads, dichotomies, and juxtapositions.
His eye for detail was as pronounced as his mastery of history:
microhistory could give way to longue durée in a paragraph, the
local and the global would intertwine, and the ideational and the ...


Sheikh, N. S. Mazrui: Man, Mission, Movement. American Journal of Islam and Society, 33(3), v-xii.

Journal Article Type Editorial
Online Publication Date Jul 1, 2016
Deposit Date Jun 6, 2023
Journal American Journal of Islam and Society
Print ISSN 2690-3733
Electronic ISSN 2690-3733
Publisher International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 33
Issue 3
Pages v-xii
Keywords General Medicine