New Internationalist

Tribute to Tajudeen

July 2009
Photo by: TIM GANDER
Photo by: TIM GANDER

The death in a car accident in Kenya of Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem has robbed the cause of Pan-Africanism of its most energetic and charismatic modern advocate. Born in Funtua, Nigeria, in 1961, he studied political science at Kano’s Bayero University before winning a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford and completing a doctorate on party politics in Nigeria. In no sense did he neglect the often desperate political needs of his Nigerian homeland, and he helped found the Centre for Democracy and Development under the Abacha dictatorship, remaining its Chair until his death.

But his indefatigable efforts as both journalist and campaigner always embraced Africa as a whole. After a spell in the 1980s at the Institute for African Alternatives, he worked for the Africa Research and Information Bureau, and it was in this period he first wrote for the NI, about Africans’ experience of racism in Russia (www.newint.org/issue211/black.htm).

As secretary general of the seventh Pan-African Congress in 1994, he established a new base for his campaigning in Kampala, Uganda, and he remained thereafter a focal point for Pan-African activism
and debate.

I met him while researching a special issue of the NI in 2000: Africa United: the Pan-African alternative (www.newint.org/issue326/title326.htm). He was helpful, provocative and insightful, and contributed an article on the negative impact of Western aid workers in Africa that dominated our letters pages for months after (www.newint.org/issue326/impact.htm). But he didn’t tell me until afterwards how sceptical he had been that the New Internationalist would come out with a magazine that did the Pan-African cause justice: his ultimate approval of what I wrote meant a great deal.

In the new century he continued to work along a multiplicity of channels, including helping to establish the campaigning organization Justice Africa, and since 2006 working for the UN in pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals in Africa. Throughout this period he maintained an outspoken weekly column for numerous African newspapers and for Pambazuka News, which since his death has collected a vast number of heartfelt tributes to his life and work (http://tinyurl.com/ph3p7n).

Taju died while on the way to Rwanda on Pan-African business – on 25 May, which is Africa Day. He would have appreciated that small irony and would undoubtedly have urged those mourning him: ‘Don’t agonize, organize!’

Chris Brazier

This column was published in the July 2009 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Comments on Tribute to Tajudeen

Leave your comment







 

  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Get our free fortnightly eNews

Multimedia

Videos from visionOntv's globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Currents

All Currents

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 424

New Internationalist Magazine issue 424
Issue 424

More articles from this issue

  • Hossam Bahgat

    July 1, 2009

    Hossam Bahgat is one of Egypt’s most prominent and effective human rights campaigners. He explains why things are getting worse in his country.

  • Cutting for Stone

    July 1, 2009

    An excellent first novel, teeming with memorable characters and dealing with momentous events; the sort of old-fashioned yarn in which the patient reader can become immersed.

  • Who owns the Arctic?

    July 1, 2009

    Could countries come to blows over the North's resources? Professor Michael Byers explains.

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.

Subscribe