Remembering a friend and comrade
I no longer recall when exactly I met Sam. Maybe it was in the late 1970s at CODESRIA, or in the early 1980s at the Zimbabwe Institute of Development Studies. The late 1990s, though, was the time we truly got to work together, closely and intensely. The two of us were at the helm of CODESRIA’s leadership, as President and Vice President. The next two years were a time of deep and sharp differences in policy, and it often seemed as if there was no end in sight.
I remember a particularly difficult episode a year down the line. We had an emergency meeting in Dakar but Sam said he could not be there because he was to have a delicate operation in a few days. I explained what was at stake and asked if he could postpone the operation by a week. He warned me that he would not be able to sit for long in his current state. But the next day, he was in Dakar. During the meeting, he kept on shifting the weight of his body from one side to the other, now leaning on one buttock, then on another. He was obviously in great pain, but it never showed on his smiling face.
That was Sam, selfless, committed to a fault, totally reliable. He was the person you would want by your side if you expected hard times ahead. But no matter how difficult the times, as during those years, I never saw him turn vindictive against anyone. Later, we would look back on that period as something of a crossroads in the history of CODESRIA. Then, however, it was hard and painful. It was the kind of ordeal that can forge enduring friendships. Sam was that kind of a friend.
(Full text available at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14649373.2016.1140258)
Notes on contributor
Mahmood Mamdani is Professor and Director of the Makerere Institute of Social Research (Uganda), and Herbert Lehman Professor of Government and Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University. In 2008, Mamdani was voted as the 9th “top public intellectual” in the world on the list of Top 100 Public Intellectuals by Prospect Magazine (UK) and Foreign Policy (US). Mamdani specializes in the study of African and international politics, colonialism and post-colonialism, extreme violence in civil wars, the politicization of culture, and the politics of knowledge production. He is the author of many books, including Define and Rule: Native as Political Identity (2012); Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror (2009); Scholars in the Marketplace: The Dilemmas of Neo-liberal Reforms at Makerere University, 1989-2005 (2007); When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism and Genocide in Rwanda (2001);Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism (1996); Politics and Class Formation in Uganda (1976).