Of po­lit­i­cal hy­giene in Africa

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Big Read -

Of the books, the ac­tual em­blems of the in­tel­lec­tual vo­ca­tion, the tal­is­mans of the trade, Pro­fes­sor Lu­mumba has many. He is co­pi­ous, pro­lific and wields crim­i­nally lu­cid prose. There is a flour­ish of le­gal and po­lit­i­cal lit­er­a­ture from his busy desk that the African acad­emy can­not ig­nore.

Prom­i­nent in most of his books about Africa is the theme of “po­lit­i­cal hy­giene” in Kenya and in Africa at large; on the same theme he has de­liv­ered many a fiery speech. For those stu­dents of his­tory and pol­i­tics in Africa that read their Africa well, the theme of po­lit­i­cal hy­giene and po­lit­i­cal san­i­ta­tion in the African con­ti­nent is trace­able to that African walk­ing library, the late Ali Mazrui who in 1970 wrote a piece for the jour­nal of African and Asian Stud­ies de­mand­ing and de­scrib­ing “po­lit­i­cal hy­giene and cul­tural tran­si­tion in Africa.”

The in­ter­est­ing and also prob­lem­atic po­lit­i­cal cri­tique of Ali Mazrui is per­haps a sub­ject for another day, its own good day for as he de­scribed him­self Mazrui’s in­tel­lec­tual and po­lit­i­cal life was “a long de­bate,” he was a true su­per­mar­ket of con­test­ing and con­tested ideas and in­sights, he was sim­ple but not sim­plis­tic.

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