Thus he once told his interlocutor in an interview, as reported in the New York Times, “My life is a long debate”. As a spirited Africanist, a conscientious public intellectual, a prolific writer, a passionate teacher, and as an admirable personality with high self-confidence, Professor Ali A. Mazrui left behind him, when he passed away on 13 October 2014, voluminous and highly influential publications including more than thirty books and hundreds of articles- thousands of students, and a strong legacy of “debate” against global injustices. His life-long struggle was more specifically directed against abuses of power and violation of human rights, whether by great powers of the world, like the United States or by leaders of unprivileged countries, such as Idi Amin of Uganda.
What made him a distinguished public intellectual were, most probably, his capacity, originality, and willingness to articulate ideas completely alien to the mainstream conventional wisdom in the West. The mainstream intellectual community was shocked, for example, when during the BBC’s prestigious Reith Lectures he defended the idea that the only realistic way yielding to the elimination of nuclear threat was actual nuclear proliferation all over the world. Only then, maintained Mazrui, could the disproportional power of the West have been balanced and the injustices towards the poor Third World countries have been prevented.