Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem


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Celebrating the life of Dr. Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem (1961-2009)


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Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem

  1. 1. Dr. Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem (1961-2009) 1
  2. 2. Introduction DR. TAJUDEEN ABDUL-RAHEEM – THE ULTIMATE AFRICAN It is that combination of a scintillating mind, endearing nature and spotless integrity that made A small tribute to a big visionary him a formidable force for good, raising the most difficult questions in a refreshingly different manner, offering lucid alternatives and speaking truth to power like almost nobody could. I sus- If we were to include everything that Taju himself wrote or has been written about him, this pect some of his courage of conviction came from his being a man of Islamic faith, but like ev- would be a publication that would run into hundreds of pages. We have therefore restricted this erything else he carried his faith lightly and worked vigorously with people of all persuasions. collection to a small scrapbook which simply gives a flavor of the vibrancy of the life and work of Taju’s legacy lives on in so many ideas, institutions and processes that he triggered, and of Taju. This is but a small sample of his newspaper articles picked from his vast collection of writ- course with his immediate family Ayesha, Aida and Mounira, and his countless friends, admirers ings, a sprinkling of the thousands of messages from friends, colleagues and well-wishers and a and disciples. Together we commit ourselves to keep the torch burning, to redouble our efforts very limited selection of Taju’s pictures and quotes. The different pieces we have included are to protect and promote the rights of the poor in Africa and beyond, and to continue Taju’s tire- an eloquent testimony to the massive contribution that Taju made to fighting poverty and real- less fight for economic, political and social justice. izing the Millennium Development Goals for the people of Africa. As Taju would always tell us: Don’t agonise, organize! On my part, I had often wondered how it could be possible that every single African and friends of Africa I have encountered, in any part of the continent and outside, always knew of Taju. Salil Shetty Reading the endless flow of articles on the internet and in the press about Taju in the last month, Director, U.N Millennium Campaign the answer has become crystal clear to me. If you have ever come across Taju, even if only for a few minutes, that memory would stay with you forever. Through his writings and speeches, for the majority of his ever-growing legion of admirers and disciples, he had one of the biggest and broadest minds in contemporary Africa. His incisive intellect and cutting polemic always came with gritty home truths. As has been said of another great revolutionary educationalist Ivan Illich, his ideological opponents would obviously disagree with him, but nobody, simply nobody, could ever ignore him. Of course, for those of us who had the good fortune of knowing Taju, the bigness of his mind was overshadowed by the largeness of his heart. With Taju, nothing happened in small quantities, everything, from his laugh to his love, was big and giving and always from deep inside. Taju embraced everybody he met, literally and figuratively, and showered them with his generosity of ideas and affection. I don’t know how he did it, but he always had time for everybody, even more so with young people. 1
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  4. 4. EMAIL FROM MARY ROBINSON My colleagues and I at Realizing Rights were shocked and dismayed at the tragic and untimely death of Africa’s great champion Taju. I know that you and many others feel quite devastated but I also hope you feel a true sense of pride in how many people have been touched by him and share that sense of loss. Please include us in deep condolences to his family and keep us informed of any way in which he may be commemorated. Again with deep sympathy, Mary Robinson EMAIL FROM HELLEN CLARK I know that this must be a difficult moment for the Millennium Campaign team, having to deal with this terrible loss. Please accept my sincere condolences for you and your colleagues. I hope that, in this tough time, Dr. Raheem’s legacy will serve as an inspiration to carry on his very important work in support of achieving the MDGs in Africa Helen Clark UNDP Administrator 3
  5. 5. Tribute from United Nations Millennium Campaign Africa Staff When I received the phone call at about 3.30 am on May 25th asking me to come urgently I look back at the wonderful times we shared with my dear Taju and I feel very blessed and to Nairobi hospital, I was certain that I would find Taju alive and well complaining about his privileged to have served at the feet of such a master of our trade… a man who loved Africa “forced” entrapment at the hospital. Little did I know that I would find Taju, gone… dead! I will with every fibre of his body and believed in the dream of a United States of Africa. A man who never forget that moment when the police officer told me that Taju was not more… I simply made a conscious choice to speak out against the most powerful on behalf of the marginalised. could not believe it. As a tribute to him we should all dedicate ourselves to the campaign against social injustice and poverty and push for the achievement of the MDGs in Africa by 2015. Almost a month later, I am still in total shock, the tears still flow and the sense of loss is just overwhelming. As we do our best to cope, I will always remember Taj as I called him, as a kind, May the almighty rest his soul in eternal peace and until we meet again my dear Oga Taju, caring and amazing boss who was always ready to listen to his colleagues, support their efforts kwaheri ya kuonana. and ensure that we got results. He pushed us to be innovative out-of-the-box thinkers, always Sylvia Mwichuli, Communications Coordinator, Africa, UN Millennium Campaign telling us that he was sick and tired of the same old campaigning activities that involved going to workshops and seminars to talk about poverty. He constantly dared us to be different, to focus Whence cometh another? on impact of our activities and to always remember that our campaign was about the poorest Tajudeen laughs and jokes echo in the depths of my brain; of the poor. And when I hear it, it causes me agony. How this heartache devours me night and day... Taju was able to talk about poverty and the Millennium Development Goals in a way that got But the memories of discussions, deep debates and thoughts are strong and hold that time heals the attention of even the most hard-hearted and disinterested journalist or politician. Through the agonizing , his numerous humourous and life-changing off-the-cuff speeches and media interviews, he So I dream of the future - and quiet relief. constantly highlighted the grim reality that millions of Africans experience daily, in the most A United States of Africa! dramatic fashion. He was a great intellectual, a phenomenal human being, dream spokesperson for our campaign and the greatest social justice advocate I have ever met. Yet, he was so kind and I know that this sorrow will someday subside, compassionate and totally down to earth. What he really cared about were the mama mbogas, Leaving happy memories in its place, organizing on his thoughts the security officers who looked after us and the grassroot communities we worked with. This Aluta Continua! could explain the fact that he did not care much for protocol and the high and mighty. Mwaura Kaara - Youth and Students Focal Point/ Editorial Assistant. Africa, UN Millennium Campaign Taju was above all, a man of action. He had experienced first hand the hopeless and delibitating situation many poor communities face in our continent and believed beyond any shadow of I had the rare opportunity of working very closely with Dr. Tajudeen for thirteen months. Before doubt that the dark cloud that hang over communities could be eradicated if only our leaders joining the campaign, I had read a lot of his many interesting articles on socioeconomic and were more considerate, developed and implemented pro-poor policies and responded to the political issues which he used to post regularly on various newspapers. So when a chance commitments they made when they signed the Millennium Development Goals in the year 2000. presented itself to work within the same office with him, I considered it wise to do so. One of his often reported quotes was “Africa has enough resources to fulfil its needs but not enough to meet politicians’ greed”. In reality, Taju portrayed the same image as his many articles suggested; he lived what he talked in public. He practiced great respect to fellow colleagues in the office and was the kind of skilful He taught me and my colleagues at the UN Millennium Campaign many things over the three leader who believed in the diverse abilities of colleagues. years that we worked together the most important being that nothing is impossible if you are determined, committed and have a clear strategy. He also taught me that the only person we For a man who had wide and immense knowledge of the world, with close links to many high should fear is the almighty and no leader should intimidate us into keeping our mouths shut as profile people including presidents, one would have expected that Taju would be all over his they plunder and misource public resources. colleagues in the office exercising power, pride, toughness and intimidation. But Taju was quite 4
  6. 6. different, a very firm, down to earth and gentle leader who listened to colleagues’ opinions Many of us will not relate easily with the untimely departure of Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem whom with keen interest and only made practical demands while providing all the support he could to I secretly admired as a “Great Merchant Of Hope” and are deeply saddened by the fact that ensure you delivered. I know few like him. our dear brother, comrade and renowned anti-poverty campaigner perished was claimed by May his soul rest in peace a car accident on a road whose state is a source of extreme agony for many of its users and Kavengo Matundu - United Nations Millennium Campaign, Africa Office. characterizes the failure of the African state to provide decent services to its citizens. Dear Dr Tajudeen, However, we draw inspiration from the fact that he died on Africa day (25th May) a very I was only able to work with you for a very short period of time, but I feel so blessed that I was significant day which featured prominently in his celebrated achievements as he dedicated a allowed this precious opportunity. greater portion of his life towards a pan-Africanist people driven quest for a united Africa and a world order where nations respected citizens rights through delivering sustainable livelihoods Before I came to work in your office I must admit I was very intimidated by all the great stories and development resulting in human dignity. about I had heard about you every time your name was mentioned. I was so nervous about working with such a legend! When I finally met you I was struck not only by your humorous Taju often talked of passing on to the other world and had a strong feeling that he will one day character and enormous intellect but most of all by your humble nature. You would listen and fall asleep and never wake up, but alas, it was on the campaign trail that we lost him. We do respect the view of everyone whether intern or President. hope that the “Piga Debe”—make a big noise campaign on maternal health will be a befitting tribute to continue on the path versus injustice which we all bear testimony that his commitment I will never forget the long lessons you gave me about the struggles between Ethiopia and was unwavering. Eritrea, you were a master story teller, every student’s dream! We will miss Taju’s hearty laughter, ferocious attacks, brutal frankness, passionate writings and It makes me so sad that it is now, after you have passed, that I am finding out more about your speeches. life and your work. You were amazing Dr. Tajudeen. You are such an inspiration to me and so many of my generation, how I wish you were here to speak about your vision in person with Taju will be remembered as one of the most prolific Pan-Africanists in the new millennium who your booming voice, hearty laugh and wild hand gestures when you at the crescendo of your organized countless activities and penned so many excellent thought provoking pieces packaged speech! Even though you are no longer with us I will continue to be an unofficial student and as his Thursday postcard, an undying testimony to his reflections on how best people could I hope that one day we Diaspora will make you proud and contribute to the fulfillment of your possibly organize struggles that would subsequently usher in progressive change consistent vision: a United Africa. with the vision of liberation we all cherish but exposed by our dear comrade in his larger than life presence in all the countries of the world he lived in and visited. You will always be with us. Nardos Hagos – UN Millennium Campaign, Africa Thomas Muchineripi Deve Policy Analyst (Africa) Taju, I grieve your demise. Tears cannot tell of the gap you have left behind, but the joy of having United Nations Millennium Campaign known and worked with you, continues to inspire me. Fare thee well, till we meet again. Linda Odhiambo Gender Coordinator - UN Millennium Campaign, Africa Taju has been the brains behind the unification of Africa and his death is a blow to this dream but the hope we have is the work he left behind so we going to pledge ourselves to utilize the knowledge he left behind to unify Africa. Hamimu Masudi – UN Millennium Campaign, Africa 5
  7. 7. Tribute from United Nations Millennium Campaign Global Staff It’s such a tragic news! How do I begin? Please know that my heart is with you in this time of difficulty. I have not been My deepest condolences to his entire family members and friends. able to write up to this point as there is a strong part of me that is in shock and disbelief still. Rahul Sharma As if, if I do not speak the words, then it is not true. I met Taju 4 times in my life, but I absolutely adored him and his impact is so great. We all sorely miss him here, but please know that my It’s really a sadden news for me. Please accept my deepest condolences to the African team. silence was not neglect, but a difficulty to wrap my mind around the fact that this legend of a With Warm Regards, man with such great capacity for love and joy has moved on. We really would have done well to Karlina Sutaprawira have such a man continue to grow and teach us. We need such elders, capable of navigating UNDP Programme Coordinator the world with such a vibrant, bold and earth quaking love. To memorialize that type of human Local Governance for MDGs being so early is a heartbreaking & bizarre exercise in my mind. Such spirits are such a rarity and a blessing. He does leave an incredible legacy to all who were fortunate enough to know I am just in shock and don’t know what to say. him. I pray for peace of mind and spirit for each one of you and wish I could be there to give you Please accept my condolences, the Africa Team. all great big Taju hugs! Seema Rajouria In love & solidarity always, Serwah Asante Não sei onde estás, mas é por certo um lugar mais divertido desde que chegaste. Administrative and Finance Associate, UNMC (I don’t know where you are right now, but it is surely a happier place after your arrival.) Vítor Simões. Inna Lillah Wa Inna Ilayhi Rajeoun UNMC Portugal It is with my deepest sympathy that I mourn my brother Taju; he was indeed an example of a Communications Coordinator friend, brother and colleague. I am still in shock and disbelief. His remarkable laughter and loud voice can never be forgotten and also his love for his family. Aisha and Aida, your father loved The Asia team has received this awful news with tremendous shock and disbelief. you so much and you were always on his priority list whenever he traveled, he ensured that he gets you what you asked for. I think Salil spoke for all of us when he said that Africa lost one of We believe that Taju was one of the most vibrant and prominent campaigners in Africa as he its most prominent activists for the fight against poverty. continued to be the voice for global justice, human rights, democracy and Pan-Africanism. We will surely miss his charisma and encouragement and I am sure that the UN Millennium As a part of the global movements to promote social justice, he made everlasting contribution Campaign will never be the same without Taju. We had plans together, we were supposed to to the advocacy efforts of the Southern campaigns against poverty and exclusion around the be meeting soon and wanted to do a few things together (he always had the Campaign on his world. For Asia, his energy and tireless efforts to make the world a better place by encouraging mind), but God almighty decided otherwise. We must be strong believers and accept God’s wish solidarity among poor nations across Africa and Asia were invaluable experiences that we and that he is moving to a better place now. I am sure that his legend will last forever, and that had witnessed with great joy. There is much to remember and much to be grateful for Taju. His is what we should cherish, his good qualities, his kind heart, his talent to speak up regardless passionate laugh, larger than –life vivacious personality and considerate thoughts will be part of the audience, and his dedication to the causes he strongly believed in and overall, we all will of our memories for times to come. His words and wisdoms will always remain in our hearts and remember his laughter. thoughts making our resolve stronger than ever. We also shared the love for chili pepper, football, and Italy! With our sincere and deepest condolence for Taju’s family, the Africa team and his large network of friends and comrades spread all around the globe. Taju my friend, may God almighty bless your soul and accept you with his forgiveness into his Minar Pimple heavens. Deputy Director, Asia Ehab Burawi (UN Millennium Campaign- NY) 6
  8. 8. Tribute from United Nations Millennium Campaign Global Staff Inna Lillah Wa Inna Ilayhi Rajeoun Bangkok in January 2009 … but it was sufficient to become connected! I still can hear his loud It is with deep regret that I mourn the death of my dear brother and friend Taju. We were together and open laughter, witty comments to make any discussion brighter and colorful, his promise to the whole of last week in Monrovia, and Dakar. Our last moments together were Friday prayers come to Bangladesh though he was afraid of water (he knew that flood is a regular phenomenon at the airport mosque in Dakar and he insisted having a photo with me at the mosque to add to in Bangladesh)! his collection of mosque pictures, then a big hug at the departure lounge with the last words… my brother see you in Rome in July, I will bring you the shirts you left in the hotel in Nairobi. I really dont know how his wife and children and family and friends will recover the loss who were connected with him deeply! Behold, this was the last time I was to see or speak to him but “If both Allah and man need the same thing, man loses out” which is the case here and so we accept the will and call of Allah the My deepest condolence for his family and Africa team! He will remain in my heart as an almighty. Brother Taju may Allah, the almighty forgive you and grant you eternal rest. inspiration! Monisha To the wife and two beautiful girls, this is beyond the imaginable but let us remember that it is (UN Millennium Campaign- Bangladesh) the will of Allah. Please accept my heart-felt condolences. Sering Falu Njie (UN Millennium Campaign NY) I am now at home, and I can’t believe you were here less than two weeks ago laughing and chatting with the team, James and Julia, celebrating the Civil G8. I am shocked and moved by this tragedy. I cannot imagine that somebody who is so much full of life and passion is gone. This is beyond what words can describe. I remember our joyful and animated discussion on the dress you chose for the TV interviews on the first day; and the subsequent decision we took that I would be your fashion adviser from now My deep and respectful condolences to his family, the African team and to the colleagues that on for Italian and European TV. The following day, it was very sweet to see you wear a traditional shared his enthusiasm and dedication. African dress. In deep sadness, I could write pages about both the funny and also the substantive discussions we had. I remember Sebastian (UN Millennium Campaign -NY) when you gave me a full 3 hour training session on the Kenyan political crisis to prepare me for a tough TV interview. The world had become a lonelier place without Taju’s resounding laughter, quick-witted remarks, unwavering commitment to change the world, and his overall presence. Or I recall when you welcomed me in Nairobi at my hotel while I was having Campari, you were having an African tea which you beautifully described as” in Africa we drink the tea with We have lost one of our greatest Campaigners and friends. Africa has lost one of its great leaders. everything in it”. But what makes me reflect most profoundly is the memory of when you told Our retreats will never be the same again without Taju’s hearty laughter and impassioned me why you quit smoking when we were in Milan… You said that a few years ago you oldest comments and remarks. At the January 2009 Bangkok retreat, I looked forward not only to Taju’s daughter had asked you to quit smoking, because she wanted you alive for her. jokes and laughter, but to his wonderfully beautiful ‘Royal’ outfits. This conversation replays continuously in my head, and shows again and again how much your To Taju’s family, our sincerest condolences from the Philippines. love for life and your family were always with you. To the African team, we mourn with you. Taju will be in our hearts for always. Dulce Saret (UN Millennium Campaign -Asia) Hugs forever, Marina (UN Millennium Campaign- Italy) I still can not believe it … Taju is no more! He so lively and full of spirit, passion and wit … how can he suddenly become a photograph! I met him only once … during the global staff retreat in 7
  9. 9. Tribute from United Nations Millennium Campaign Staff Two days have passed already and I still can’t find the right words to express this most tangible When we first met in Delhi I said to him “Hi Taju, it’s nice to finally meet you, I’d heard so much of losses. I try to visualize the void that dear Taju has left behind both at work and at home and about you from Ryce and Som”. He said “don’t believe a word they say”. I said “No? but they can only see something that is fathomless. speak highly of you”. And we started laughing insanely… That said, I feel a richer person, honoured by the fact that our paths did manage to cross on Speaking from a person who’s so far away and only met him a couple of times — I’m bumped. So this earth, and especially for such a noble cause. I have faith that for many more years Taju will I’m sending my prayers and thoughts to all of you to stay strong through this difficult time. Please nonetheless continue to be one of the Millennium Campaign’s principle guiding lights. also pass my condolences to Taju’s family and his loved ones. Philip Gorman With love, Jasmine (UN Millennium Campaign-Asia) Your laugh, smile and words will remain alive my friend. In solidarity, Whenever I think of Taju I always remember the first time I met him, at the Asia-Africa retreat Luis last May – his laugh, his warm bear hug and his booming voice saying ‘Mandira, you are as crazy as the rest of us in this campaign and we will make you crazier!’ I joined the campaign My heart goes out to Taju’s family, the Africa team, the entire Millennium Campaign, and all because of the energy and the vision that I saw in that small room and the belief that it is only those that were touched by Taju’s passion and good humor. As I write I’m listening to Femi Kuti passion that brings about change. and other Afro-beat musicians, mindful of their struggle against corrupt regimes and for a better life for their countrymen and women, and how Taju also embodied those ideals. Taju lit up any room, any conversation, and his passion showed in every word he said. He was truly an inspiration. I met him only a few times but those few were enough to know he had a clear With the exception of perhaps Serwah and myself, Taju was the greatest Obama supporter heart and a deep compassion which showed through his work and his life. I feel privileged and on the Campaign. The few times I met him in person he greeted me with chants of “Obama blessed to have have known him and to have shared his life for such a short time. Having met Obama,” and he, along with all our colleagues, shared our joy on election day in November and Taju I truly believe that a few people like him are enough to change the world. on inauguration day in January. I had told him that on his next visit to the States he’d have to come to Washington, where I’d get him a White House tour and perhaps he could help ME get a My prayers and thoughts are with his wife and children and family and colleagues and friends meeting with the President! It will make this year’s Stand Up all the more meaningful if President and all the people who knew and loved Taju. Obama participates in Stand Up. I will dedicate this effort to Taju. At this moment of grief I would like to remember Taju loudly singing his favourite Hindi film Yesterday was Memorial Day in the US, and President Obama asked Americans to ring a bell at song… Rest in peace Taju, We will miss you. 3pm in honor of the fallen. I had learned of Taju’s passing only a few minutes before so I took Mandira (UN Millennium Campaign-Asia) that time to ring my family’s wind chime in his honor. Taju didn’t wear a uniform, but he did wage battle against injustice, was a soldier in the war against global poverty, fought for the rights of Thinking about Taju a smile appears on our faces. Probably everybody who has ever met him the poor and marginalized, and believed deeply that the MDGs must be achieved. remembers a very special and very personal moment with him. He had the talent to make He will be missed. everybody feel special, to make everybody feeling to be taken in serious. Love, When the G8 took place in Germany in 2007, we were very lucky because we were able to enjoy Anita (UN Millennium Campaign-Washington) Taju’s presence over some days. His time management was a real challenge for good German punctuality, this for sure. But although not caring about any rule or convention, everybody who I was deeply shocked and speechless that I couldn’t pull myself to write yesterday. Last night, I met him seemed to love him! had a dream about him and I woke up in the middle of the night — thinking it was only a dream — all this must be only a dream, but sadly not. Another unforgettable situation was in Cairo on the market place when Taju was bargaining with an Egyptian market woman over 10-20 gifts to bring back to his children, nieces and nephews. 8
  10. 10. Tributes and Condolences The market women never had so much fun before and at the end she sold the gifts at the lowest He was known in all the political circles in London before the Abdul Rahman Babu requested price ever. And in Milan, at our retreat the special leisure programme was a speedboat trip on a his service within the Pan African movement. Tajudeen excelled and emerged at the forefront canal. Taju preferred to lie down in the secure centre of the boat and cried out with a big smile of the international educational, political and cultural arena. He claimed this stage to press forth in his face and fear in his eyes “I am a son of the desert – I can not swim”. the claims of the oppressed for emancipation. He was not shy to remind us in his writings that he was the son of a “hardworking woman who was a petty trader.” In his last communication he These are only a few situations we will always remember, when thinking of our wonderful reaffirmed that he was driven to support the rights and dignity of hardworking men and women colleague and dear friend Taju. We will always keep him in our heart. from the grassroots. Tajudeen was a living example of what Walter Rodney wrote about when he observed that the task of the black intellectual was to place himself or herself at the service Nobody understands the big plan – maybe Taju has been called to an even more important of the people. mission now. The UN Millennium Campaign German campaign team: Renée, Steffi and Ralf Tajudeen was introduced to me from afar as the brightest student to pass through Oxford University. We met soon after in 1990 when he was one of the organizers of the Walter Rodney Great Minds are motivated by dynamic projects. This is a statement about the thinking of human commemoration activities in London. We reconnected again, a year later at the launch of the beings who want dignity and a better quality of life. In our generation of Africans who matured African Research and Information Bureau (ARIB). Since those early years we formed a bond after the period of independence, it was the belief that our dignity would be enhanced by the and worked on many projects to carry forward the ideas and practices of African emancipation. unity and freedom of our peoples. The project of the unity of the peoples of Africa is one that had Tajudeen was a builder and hard worker who threw himself into the tasks at hand. This level energized millions. Tajudeen Abdul Raheem worked tirelessly for the African unity. He worked in of energy was manifest in the organization of the 7th Pan African Congress in Kampala in 1994. the ranks of the people and was present at both the levels of government and at the discussions It was a meeting that brought out all of the contradictions between the old variants of Pan of the people. His was a voice for the power of the people. As one of our Rodneyite sisters Africanism, the question of the place of Sudan in the Pan African movement and most importantly, summed up the life of Tajudeen, “he was like an angel sent to us to enrich our lives.” the centrality of the grassroots women in the movement for freedom. It was in Kampala where the Pan African Women’s Liberation Organization (PAWLO) was formed. Tajudeen was born in Funtua, Katsina state, Nigeria in January 1961. Breaking through the repressive culture of the militarists and feudalists, Tajudeen like millions of Nigerian youth The Kampala meeting introduced Pan Africanists to the challenges of transcending divisiveness, yearned for a society where the youth could soar and beyond the civil war that tore his society genocidal thinking and narrow racial conceptions of who is an African. The Rwanda genocide apart while he was a young person. Excelling in educational system Tajudeen could not be accelerated on the last day of the 7th Pan African conference and Pan Africanists were forced contained. The Nigerian University system produced many fine minds and Tajudeen was one of to take a principled stand on genocide and genocidal violence. This genocide and the ensuing the finest to graduate from Bayero State University, graduating with first class honors. Tajudeen wars that engulfed Central Africa consumed the energies of Tajudeen for many years. He was more than once related the story of the interview for the Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University. on first name basis with Laurent Kabila, Yoweri Museveni, Meles Zenawi and other leaders. Despite the challenge to the interviewers about the legacies of Cecil Rhodes, Tajudeen was Working for peace he penetrated the duplicity of these leaders and was quick to discern the simply too bright for these gatekeepers to keep him out of Oxford University. It was probably hypocrisy and greed associated with the military forays of Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame their hope that the rituals of Oxford would tame and intimidate Tajudeen. Instead Tajudeen used into the Congo. Although Tajudeen broke early with these leaders he remained in Kampala as his years in Oxford to earn his doctorate in political science and while he was a student built General Secretary of the Pan African Movement, in so far as he felt that Pan Africanists had to networks of networks working in different formations dedicated to change. Whether it was in the work from African soil. This was a principled position that he took at the time of the congress anti-apartheid formations, the formations to support the peoples of Palestine, the anti dictatorial in 1994. struggles in West Africa or the global peace and justice movement, Tajudeen emerged as a force and a voice for good. Tajudeen was committed to ending the violence and divisions and he dedicated his life to opposing genocidaires. It was a strange twist that Tajudeen was again heading to Kigali, Rwanda on May 25, 2009 to engage those forces in Rwanda who wanted to fight poverty instead of spending 9
  11. 11. Tributes and Condolences money on senseless wars of plunder. Like Shaban – Wilson Rutasyire (who was consumed by Behind the joyous and jocular exterior Tajudeen carried a lot of pain. A deep pain of love was the Rwandan nightmare in 2000), Tajudeen was looking for a solution to the violence, plunder, hidden from most by the bonhomie. This pain soared to new levels at different points in his rape and widespread violation in Central Africa. life. Yet, Tajudeen silently endured the pain and ache that came when he was unable to join in the celebration of the life of his mother when she joined the ancestors in 1997. The military In his work within the Pan African movement, Tajudeen was a consummate diplomat. Behind dictatorship of Sani Abacha was terrified of Tajudeen. Their earlier attempts to silence him had his disarming wit lay a critical understanding of the need to reach the people. Tajudeen knew failed and Tajudeen did not want to give them another opportunity. Tajudeen was a major figure the social movements across Africa. Within the Pan African movement he had to interface with in the June 12 movement of Nigeria that fought to end the military dictatorship in Nigeria. He many of the leaders who had come to power through the movement for change. From Kampala, was not satisfied with the veiled authoritarianism of Obasanjo and he was a force behind many Tajudeen worked tirelessly with the movement for peace in the Sudan. Opposition to wars and different formations fighting for democracy and justice in Nigeria. Tajudeen was also opposed genocide was not an intellectual matter for Tajudeen, it was a matter of urgency that required to the pseudo anti imperialism of the Mugabe leadership in Zimbabwe. skilful negotiation of African politics. Tajudeen was as opposed to the senseless war in Northern Uganda as he was opposed to the militarism and genocidal violence in the Sudan. He wanted Taju threw himself into the work of liberation and travelled constantly. In addition to his to ensure that he was able to be effective as an opponent to these violations and betrayals. At work in Africa and Europe, the North American, Caribbean and South American branches of times the betrayal was most painful as in the moment of the tragic death of John Garang of the the movement also benefitted from Tajudeen’s insights. Tajudeen also worked with us in the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement. The record of the meetings for peace convened in Walter Rodney Commemoration Committee in 2005 to celebrate the ideas of Walter Rodney on Kampala remains a record to be built upon by those committed to the Pan African principles of emancipation and liberation. Tajudeen was passionate about the need for democratic change in peace. his own country. He was involved in the building of a community college in his home community of Funtua. He used his weekly postcard to communicate with all sections of the Pan African World. Whether in Barbados, Guyana, Atlanta, Berlin, Accra or Abuja, those who were active kept connected In the face of the religious intolerance and bigotry against followers of Islam after September through Tajudeen. He was like a glue keeping so many of us together. 11, 2001, Tajudeen, made a conscious political decision to observe Friday prayers in whatever Servant of the people community he lived in. This religious identification was borne out of the need to make a stand against the persecution of the followers of Islam. At the same time, Tajudeen was a force for The Pan African world is indebted to the family of Tajudeen, especially his widow Mounira and peace between Christians, Muslims and non believers in all parts of the world. He was mortified daughters Aida and Aisha. Tajudeen was a devoted father to his two daughters. At a great by the fundamentalism that was promoted in the name of religion to demobilize the youth. sacrifice to his family, Tajudeen had served as the General Secretary of the Global Pan African movement for more than ten years. It was service borne out of love for the people of Africa. In He was insistent that peace was a prerequisite for the reconstruction of Africa. He opposed the process he paid a great price because the bureaucrats of the Ugandan government sought Xenophobia of all forms. Tajudeen wanted to motivate all young people to oppose all forms of to starve him in order to break the movement. As this humble servant of people, he could not tyranny. It was his understanding that the challenge of motivating the youth was not simply a financially contribute to the support of his family. Yet, Tajudeen persevered and worked to moral issue but an urgent political task in a world where the most conservative and fundamentalist build an infrastructure to keep together Pan Africanists in all parts of the world informed and forces mobilized the energies of the youth into directions of death, destruction and intolerance. inspired. Tajudeen was involved in a number of formations to build the African Unity of peoples. Tajudeen had worked with Abdul Rahman Babu and he carried forward the traditions of Babu In all of his work as a freedom fighter, diplomat, journalist Tajudeen never forgot his humble to work with a constituency that was not limited to Africa. Tajudeen was part of a wider global roots. In the last years, Tajudeen worked for the United Nations as the African Director in the peace and justice movement. Promoting the ideas and practices of Babu, Tajudeen and his Millennium Development Goals. He did not allow his service as an international diplomat to friend Napoleon Abdulai organized the send off for Babu when Babu joined the ancestors in silence him in relation to the exploitation and impoverishment of the poor. He used this position 1996. as another platform to be an advocate for the oppressed. Tajudeen was my friend, brother and comrade. 10
  12. 12. Tributes and Condolences Tajudeen lived a full life and exhibited a free spirit, the spirit of an angel who was motivated It’s a sad day for Africa, and the tragic of the story is that when Dr Tajudeen visited KTN news by more than one dynamic project. We are committed to completion of one these projects, the station as part of G-20 London Summit debates in April 1 2009. He did not miss word as he used full unity of the peoples of Africa in a democratic union of the states and peoples of Africa. He to while talking about bad governance and did with clarity talk about bad road as a major cause was part of a new wave of humans who refused to be restricted and confined. In passing to the of road accident across the continent. But what moved all us in the newsroom and in think the ancestors on African Liberation Day, his life and spirit will be forever associated with African viewers at large is the way is drew significance between the fact that the political elite across liberation and African freedom. It is incumbent upon us to continue his work to ensure the goals Africa have turned into driving ‘big cars’ at the expense of the impoverished African tax payer of African unity and emancipation and peace for all peoples throughout the world are realized. as a way of protection against the bad road. I will stand to be corrected; this was probably the He will be missed, but never forgotten. We thank him for all that he has shared with us. last interview he ever had in a studio setting before his tragic end. Horace G. Campbell It’s a sad day in that bad governance in Africa has claimed a passionate and gifted African who had dedicated his life to the cause of the Africa poor. A man who could have been among http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/Tajudeen/56535 the most senior UN officer at New York, but one who opted to work within his Africa despite countless opportunity. This is indeed a wonderful tribute to my dear friend Tajudeen. I miss him very much and I, too, shared wonderful memories with Taju since the 1980s in London. In a different way, Taju and I For the better part that I meet Dr Tajudeen is the last three years, he had changed my life in shared much in common. Even though we came from different backgrounds, Taju in many ways different ways, above all to think about to search for an Africa solution within Africa. Strong reminded me of my dad, Kwame Nkrumah, even though Taju and I are roughly the same age. believer in the inherent ability of the African despite the odds, a fact he able to put across through his writings, interactions with who ever he met, through his charismatic nature and not Both Nkrumah and Taju married women from North Africa, and Mounira is a close friend of forgetting his laughter. mine. More interestingly, Taju’s daughters are roughly of the same age as my own sons, Karim Kwaku and Youssef Yaw. So we often used to joke that we should marry off our children: each Africa is now poorer without Dr Tajudeen Abdul Raheem. I put him in the same category as late son of mine would marry one of Taju’s daughters. Well, that may still happen one day and it pains Julius Kabarage Nyerere, Lat Hastings Okoth-Ogendo, Leopold Sedor Senghor, and others. me that Taju would not be around to see those weddings if they do take place in the future. At For how will Africa continues to lose its best so tragically any rate my heart goes out to Mounira who stood by Taju, tirelessly looking after their daughters. Patrick Mugo Mugo And may Aida and Aisha gladden their mother’s heart by marrying great men like their dad, the Senior Researcher, KTN –Kenya Pan-African giant who was my dear friend. They say Nkrumah never dies, I say Taju never dies too. Forward Ever, Gamal Nkrumah. It is said that those we love, the gods love more. And it is also said that we never realise the Gamal Nkrumah extent of our love until it is lost. Dear Taju’s Families and friends, I have courageously passed many bad days. This heartbreaking Both sayings are true, as was brought brutally, painfully home to me over the past two weeks. news is one of the hardest to accept and live with it. Though physically, he will not be with us, First by the loss of the brother of one of my closest friends. I believe the legacy he left under each of us will live forever and be remained deep in our heart and mind. May God keep his soul in peace. I wish strength for all his families and friends. And then by the death this past Monday of Dr Tajudeen Abdul Raheem, probably best known for Girma B Hailu, MDG Support Country Advisor, UNDP-Ethiopia his role as secretary general of the Pan African Movement. I wish all the strength in the world to his family to cope with this tremendous loss. What a great But he had many other roles as well. Kenyans exiled and resident in London through the 1980s guy he was and remains in my memory! Inspiring, warm, wonderful activist, fantastic to work knew him as one of their strongest allies in the struggle for democracy — not just in Kenya but with him on GCAP. I will miss him. in Ghana and Nigeria as well as for the struggle for Eritrean independence. Paul Groenewegen, Oxfam Novib 11
  13. 13. Tributes and Condolences The outpouring of grief from across the continent and beyond, from Africa’s foremost talked to him one to one; I loved his humour and above all his intelligent, wisdom, understanding thinkers, from the highest levels of leadership to the most normal of citizens is, I think, without and knowledge about everything under the beauty of Africa and the world. precedent. He believed in young people and supported them believe in themselves. He facilitated initiatives There is no other African who was so known by so many from all walks of life in all African states that made young people engage at all levels and fully march to realizing their full potential. — and this without being a head of state of Nelson Mandela’s calibre. He was loveable and just the man you want as a friend, spokesperson in your wedding and THIS GRIEF IS MANIFESTING ITSELF in ways that will last — apart from the memorials already father to the bride!” conducted in Addis Ababa, Nairobi and Pretoria and planned for Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania and the United Kingdom. His home state in Nigeria will be naming a school or May his light continue shinning through his family, friends, colleagues and generations after street in his honour. generations. For he was such an extraordinary person. Big in body, laughter and voice, he could be heard coming a mile away. Big in engagement with all things African, big in spirit in terms of his I am very much sure he will be proud of his favourite youth from above there! embrace of any African concerned about the continent. Hellen Tombo, Regional Advisor, Plan International I met him first a decade and a half ago, at a conference in Arusha — ostensibly convened It is with profound shock that we learnt of the untimely death of our brother and colleague, to discuss the Rwandan refugee crisis in the region only a year after the genocide, but more Comrade Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem. I personally am terribly distressed at the loss of such an importantly, to address the politics around humanitarian aid in the Rwandan refugee camps, ebullient person; one that was such a dear, committed and dedicated friend to Africa’s well- in which it was already clear the Interahamwe had taken control, effectively preventing the being. Rwandan Patriotic Front from demobilising them. Taju, as he was fondly known, has spent a life of dedicated service to the Pan African cause for But beyond the angry debates — aimed at shifting the key international humanitarian actors in which he will be remembered and greatly missed. the region — there was the side of Tajudeen that anybody and everybody he drew into his ambit knows so well. We at African Monitor owe a debt of gratitude to Taju – it was his very presence at our launch at Bishopscourt, Cape Town, in 2005, and at many of our key events subsequent to that, that allowed The evenings filled with food and laughter — as well as the inevitable arguments about African us to reach hitherto inaccessible audiences and mobilise resources for the operationalising of politics, the dissections of the players therein and all of their relationships. this vision.The only fitting tribute we can pay him is to commit to continue the work of fighting bondage, poverty, inequality and injustice. From him, over the years, I learnt a huge amount about Africa and its movers and shakers. And, through him, I met many of them — with his benediction, as so many of us found, doors swung Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, colleagues, and those closest to him. open, not just politically and professionally, but personally. Archbishop Njongo Ndungane President and Founder, African Monitor http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/opOrEd/comment/-/434750/604872/-/am1tlt/-/index.html L Muthoni Wanyeki, Kenya Human Rights Commission Tajudeen-You Walked the Talk and Fought the Good Fight-Fare Thee Well I have lost an icon, a coach, a mentor and a true friend. I was privileged to work with you since the year 2000 on the transition from the OAU to the AU and in shaping the AU. He called me his favourite Youth and I called him my favourite Elder. He made us laugh, cheer, node, and cry in agreement of what he said in his speeches or when one I shared many platforms to present the voice of the common African citizens. It was not always easy but you appreciated very well what we were up against. 12
  14. 14. Tributes and Condolences I will forever remember your words ‘it is not the bureaucrats in the AU Commission and Members Life is to us a beauty in death it still is only that we are in tears. Let these tears be memorable for States who are going to unite this continent, it is us the peoples’. what he was and still is to us, A TRUE SON OF AFRICA!! Till we meet again You never ceased to remind us the power of the people to move things. You emphasised many Wahu Kaara times that we have to work with and sensitise the citizens on the importance of integration. More than 24 hours have gone since Taju was taken away from us and still the tears do not stop I still remember the many sessions we held especially with the younger generation that is often flowing. I had the privelege of being taken under his wing when I was at Oxford University as very pessimistic about the future of our continent. You were always quick to remind them that a young South African exile in 1987. He taught me so much. I remember him giving one of the the great obstacle to our advancement is not our capability but the colonisation of our minds by best talks I have ever heard at the Oxford University African Society, in 1988: The Nkrumahist ‘Afro-pessimism’. version of Pan-Africanism is more relevant than ever before. That one speech changed my life from someone who was narrowly focused on my own country to embracing the vision of african I will miss how you told the truth to everyone: from the heads of state and government, comrades political and economic integration. He introduced me to West African food and I had my first in the movement and citizens that you met at the grassroots level. Your ability to put in beautiful plantain with him at his humble abode at the North Oxford Overseas Centre. We did not see words what was not palatable, pass your message and leave a smile and inspiration even in the each other often, but when we did it was as if we never were apart. Coming from within the faces and hearts of the people you criticised the most. liberation struggle against apartheid at the age of 22, my knowledge about struggles of other African countries was limited; yet he never made feel bad about this and helped in my learning. Taju, I regret that I missed the most important party you have ever invited me to on May 23, 2009. I lost the opportunity to eat your food and share in your laughter and your insights and those of It was one of the greatest joys to have our worlds intersect in 2005 with the formation of the the guests that always congregated at your house. Global Call to Action Against Poverty. He was a fierce critic of many of the strategies and of the conduct of some of the participants in the movement but that never made any difference But the insights, passion, commitment and dedication to Pan Africanism that you have shared to our friendship. It is what I loved most about Taju. You could disagree with him tactically and with me over the years are in a safe place in my heart and mind. strategically without it being personal. I pray to God to help me put all my efforts towards the realisation of your vision for our beloved My last time we saw each other was in Ghana in September where he lamented about continent. “remunerated solidarity” from the north and the “protest by per diem” culture taking root in Africa and elsewhere in the South. Taju, you loved us in no small measure. I am not sure that we loved you even as half as you loved us and our continent. I know you gave your all to this continent. You did not spend a lot of Most of all, like so many others, who knew Taju, I will miss his warmth, his infectious laughter, time with your wife and daughters as you wished. I can see the pain in your face when told me his sense of humour and his wisdom. Hamba Kahle Taju. You will live on in our hearts and minds that your daughter asked to ‘Dad, why do you love Africa more than us?’. I know your struggles and you will continue to inspire us even though your physical presence will be deeply felt. to balance your passion for Africa and your daughters. Your fears that your daughters may one On behalf of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, we express our deepest respects and day ‘hate’ the Africa you loved because it always took you away from them. I believe your love condolences to Mounira, Aisha and Aida. to them, the quality time you spent with them and the values that you have instilled in them will Kumi Naidoo keep them going for a long time and that Africa will always have a special place in their hearts. Co-Chair, Global Call to Action Against Poverty From the tributes I have read and heard about you, I am assured me that YOU ARE LOVED in a BIG WAY!!!!! and your spirit will live on. Fare Thee Well Beloved Brother...... Mary Wandia, OxfamGB, Pan Africa Office 13
  15. 15. Tributes and Condolences We received with shock and deep sadness the news of the death of our Chair, Dr. Tajudeen a period of abstention. In those early days, as he set about steering the young Pan-African Abdul-Raheem. He died early this morning, 25th May 2009 in an accident while on his way to the Movement, Taju exuded confidence and certainty on the outside but constantly wrestled with Airport in Nairobi, Kenya to catch a flight to Rwanda to meet with the county’s President on the the contradictions of leading a movement that had been launched by Heads of States. It took current maternal mortality rate campaign. him little time to realize that the movement would have to keep more than an arm’s length from officialdom if its name was to amount to a real claim. Should the Pan-African Movement draw Tajudeen was the Deputy Director (Africa) for the United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC). its resources from sympathetic African states or from supportive foreign donors? How could a He was a leading development activist at the world level and an inspiration leader of the Pan movement launched from the top develop roots on the ground? Would a Pan-African civil society African Movement and has been the Secretary-General of the Pan-African Movement. He is be any different from the assortment of NGOs that have ceased to be membership organizations also a Director of Justice Africa and the chair of PADEAP in London. A Rhodes scholar at Oxford but are instead accountable to donors that provide them with resources? University, where he received a D Phil in Politics and was President of the Africa Society, Dr Abdul-Raheem has extensive experience of political and social movements in Africa and has I often wondered what sense to make of Taju’s move from a full-time Pan-African job to a full- been at the forefront of several campaigns. He was editor of Pan Africanism: Politics, Economy time UN job. Was it an admission that a healthy Pan-African movement could not be built from and Social Change in the Twenty-first Century (Pluto Press, 1996). He has also written extensively the roof down but would require so many national building blocks, as its constituent elements? and some of his works include: Nigeria, Oil and Democracy [Journal Article, Review of African The most abiding memory I retain of Taju is that of eternal optimism, the determination that it Political Economy, 1986]; The Left in Nigerian Politics and the Struggle for Socialism: 1945-1985 is possible to proceed whatever the odds, and that the proof of genius lies in the ability to build [Journal Article, Review of African Political Economy, 1986]; Nigeria, Crisis Management under with materials on the ground, to take a leap from text to life. He broke decisively with the ‘theory the Buhari Administration [Journal Article, Review of African Political Economy, 1985]. first’ orientation of his older comrades. Taju honored no rules, no commandments, no limits except those he encountered on the ground. He could work with anyone, whether government, The Centre for Democracy and Development expresses its heart-felt sympathy and condolences UN, donor or NGO. The worth of a relationship for him did not lie in the identity of the other side, to his immediate and extended family, the UN system, particularly the Millennium Campaign but in who set its agenda. It is worth recalling the signature with which he ended every note: Team, the Pan African Movement and his large circle of friends and comrades over this sudden “Don’t agonize, Organize!” and devastating loss of this accomplished human rights activist. May Allah grant him eternal rest and give his family the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss. Whatever the contradictions of life, Taju’s person always seemed big enough to contain them. Jibrin Ibrahim Set in an always-smiling face, his eyes were ever alert, as if trying to see around the corner. His Director Centre for Democracy and Development hand always stretched out in a gesture of friendship, the firm grip at the end of it was a constant Jibrin Ibrahim, Centre for Democracy and Development reminder of his unfailing strength. Everything about Taju affirmed, not just that his embrace was always larger than life, but that he himself was more often than not perched at its very edge. He I was introduced to Taju by Abdul Rehman Babu in the early 90s. Taju came to Kampala as was like a force of nature. If nature has reclaimed him, we must draw from his life an example Babu’s nomination to Museveni for Secretary General of the newly established Pan-African for us all. Movement. We invited Taju to Centre for Basic Research to give a talk. His opening salvo was Mahmood Mamdani, Herbert Lehman Professor of Government Dept of Anthropology, MEALAC, and a bitter indictment of Africa’s post-independence leadership: “If an American ship docked at Political Science, and the School of International and Public Affairs Columbia University Lagos port today, with a huge banner reading ‘Slave ship to America,” there would a queue of millions of Nigerians wanting to get on that ship.” This was classic Taju: there is no time for January 1993, I have worked with Taju and other Panafricanists of all ages, persuasions and formalities, or pleasantries; the time at hand is short. generations -Irungu, Jenerali, Dismas, Namtasha, Ika, Isa Blyden, Thomas Deve, Muthoni, Taju never looked for a comfort zone. He was impatient with boundaries in thought as he was Horace, Atsango, Ondonga, Ahmed Cheikh Gueye, Napo, Gamal, Kwame Toure, Karim Essack, with protocol in life. There was nothing moderate about Taju. A practising Muslim, he refused to Chidi, Noble, Mzee Chango, old Wankulu – Africans all ,from the continent and its Diasporas men believe that rituals could take the place of life itself. He combined Friday prayers and Ramadan and women some of whom have preceded him .Irrespective of the place and the setting Taju fasts with often raucous evenings drinking, feasting and debating comrades and colleagues at loomed larger than life before during and after the 7th Pan African Congress with all the personal open air bars in Kabalagala, just outside Kampala. If he was not feasting, he was in an interlude, political and professional challenges. Tajudeen weathered every storm, never wavering in his 14
  16. 16. Tributes and Condolences resolve with wit, biting sarcasm and wicked humour in pursuit of the ultimate that binds us all: I first came to know Tajudeen in 1983, at a particularly dark era in Kenya’s history, when he Pan African Liberation .He always sought alternatives where the mainstream had boxed us into joined us at protest meeting against the repressive Daniel Arap Moi and his ruling KANU party a corner , never one to retreat from an impasse he’d always quote Amilcar Cabral:Claim no regime in London. Hundreds of Kenyans had been rounded up by the Kenyan government and easy victories , tell no lies. He fought global injustice –debt, asymmetrical trade, poverty while detained without trial or sentenced to long jail terms on trumped up charges. reserving a special place for the sisters. I cannot forget that a few weeks ago, I was working on his moving tribute to African women losing their lives as they give life and all because of skewed Just a year before, we had formed the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners in priorities. I called him with a lump in my throat. Thank you Taju for speaking up for the women of Kenya to expose and bring to international attention the terrible human rights violations being Africa Yes Jjaja, he said: Women should not lose their lives while giving life. Not in my wildest committed by the Moi-KANU regime and mobilize support for the democratic struggle in Kenya. dreams could I have imagined that our final conversation would be on life and rights. Oh Taju The Committee attracted a cross-section of African, Caribbean and British personalities and that you should lose your own life fighting for women’s health rights, breathe your last on Africa for much of its existence was led and chaired by the Trinidadian-born Pan Africanist John La Liberation Day. That one who dealt with so many should pass away alone in the dead of night. A Rose. Pan Africanist alone on a highway that is the lifeline to millions of Africans. That one who fought long and hard for free movement of Africans in their own continent without let or hindrance Tajudeen quickly energized the committee’s activities and was rarely absent at many of our should come to such an abrupt end in full flight. weekend meetings and protests, so much so that for a while the Kenyan intelligence that kept beady eyes on the opposition in London mistook him for a Kenyan. Pan Africanists young and old are mourning those he nurtured, educated and mentored. His sad passing has left an irreparable gap in our lives and our hearts go out to Mounira, their In 1987, when together with Wanjiru Kihoro, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Abdilatif Abdallah, and Shiraz two beautiful little girls he loved so much Aida and Aisha, his siblings, sisters especially his baby Durani, we formed the first exiled-based political movement – UKENYA - to challenge the Moi- sister Amina who was here with us in Kampala as well as the extended family in Funtua KANU dictatorship, when many of our liberal supporters had fallen back, he was steady fast in To all the survivors of 1994.We have lost an intrepid combatant, a fearless crusader and an his support and applauded the important milestone that the Kenyan resistance to dictatorship unrelenting militant but the struggle must continue on all fronts. Indeed as Taju himself said: had reached. Don’t agonize, organize. Tajudeen was a complex figure – a comrade, a loving father, a unifier and a brilliant intellectual Hamba khale, old warrior, - and above all - a solid Pan-Africanist. He brought vigour and urgency in what ever progressive A luta continua. cause he espoused, and founded a number of influential organisations such as the Africa Fatoumata Toure Research Information Bureau (which I served as its first chair), the Centre for Democracy and Development and Justice Africa. It is an immense loss for our continent and for all the progressive movement around the world. Yes, he was a giant by any measure. He was genuinely committed to the liberation of our A charismatic and larger than life figure, he had a strong and overwhelming presence, deploying continent. Maybe after all, it was no coincidence he passed away on africa’s liberation day! his decisive mind and powerful voice to articulate the rights of the dispossessed and have-nots He was full of life, full of great dreams for his continent! May his example inspire millions of in Africa and the diaspora. He had a great sense of humour and was formidable debater. He was young africans to continue the struggle to which he dedicated his life! a forth right speaker who feared no power when it came to the realities facing ordinary Africans and the tragic failure of its leadership. May his soul rest in peace! In great sadness. Though studying for a doctorate at Oxford, where he was Rhodes Scholar, he was always in Demba Mousaa Dembele London, gathering Africans and people of African descent, from South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Kenya and Somalia, as well as, from the African has lost a great icon, an outspoken champion of the people, a passionate defender of Caribbean, to discuss and debate the African predicament and seek answers on how to turn human rights and a tireless advocate for continental freedom and unity. around the troubled continent and spark an African renaissance. 15
  17. 17. Tributes and Condolences In 1990s a period of sweeping changes which rekindle the hope of a resurgent Africa, he became behalf on Africa. Africa will be poorer without Dr. Tajudeen. a magnet and mentor for a new cadre of Pan-Africanists in his new base in Kampala. Tajudeen Our deep-felt condolences go to the bereaved family, all the comrades at the Pan African helped sensitized many young Africans about the continent’s long and illustrious history and win Movement, Justice Africa, Centre for Democracy, the UN Millennium Development Campaign many adherents for Pan-Africanism and its ideals. and all others that were blessed to know Taju. He played a pivotal role in East African and Great Lakes politics working closely with Yoweri May God offer you comfort and strength to go through this very trying time and rest his soul in Museveni of Uganda, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, Laurent Kabila of the eternal peace. DRC, John Garang of Sudan and Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. Col.(rtd) Dr. Kizza-Besigye, Kizza-Besigye, Forum for Democratic Change(FDC) In March 2006, Tajudeen was appointed the Deputy Director of the UN Millennium Campaign in Africa and was posted to Nairobi. I had only returned from exile some few months earlier, but Indeed it is with sadness that we celebrate this Africa Day 2009. One of the main propagator it was really a great pleasure to welcome Tajudeen to Kenya, which had taken its first steps TAJUDEEN ABDUL RAHEEM has been claimed by forces higher than what we would have towards multi-party democracy. But it was also a period marked by tragedies and upheavals. wished. Tajudeen was also a personal friend. His vivaciousness,joy, his clarity of thought in the He saw Kenya’s tortured journey to democracy at a close range and the ugly face of its political most dire circumstances, his spirit of fairness and his will to take on what is not just is what he elite. He was in Nairobi, when one of our leading democratic and human rights campaigners has calcated for the continent. He used every opportunity and every incident to raise issues and long-time friend Wanjiru Kihoro died in October 2006, after being in coma for more than of the continent in that most distinguished voice of his. May your spirit of committment to the 36 months, and in January 2008, when Kenya was torn asunder by the deadly Post-Election continent spread and live forever. You will be missed by many of us. violence that claimed the lives of many and displaced thousands of others. Fatma Alloo Tajudeen was a born optimist and harbinger of hope. He never lost faith in the ability of the This was very, very sad news which we heard this morning. When I invited Tajudeen to attend African people to transform their lives and control their destiny. He remained at the front line the Julius Nyerere Intellectual Festival Week in April, he immediately replied that he would of Africa’s quest for political, social and economic change and fearlessly fought for a free and reschedule his duties to make space - he couldn’t possibly miss it. Unfortunately, at the last united Africa. He was in pursuit of that dream criss-crossing the continent, eloquently and moment, he couldn’t make it. Now we will miss him for ever! passionately campaigning for an end to poverty and inequality when he met his end. Tajudeen kept the universal torch of pan-Africanism alive. I say universal because for Tajudeen The cruel hand of death snatch him away on the streets of Nairobi on Africa Liberation Day on 25 Pan-Africanism was NOT sub-Saharan only, or Black only, or Muslim or Christian or Yoruba or May, enroute to Kigali on another stop in his mission to change Africa and the world. Ogoni only. It was truly Pan-Africanist. He wouldn’t give in to culturalism or into what Nyerere Go well Comrade, Aluta Continua! once called, these territorial divisions caused by ‘imperialist vultures’. Yusuf Hassan As we grieve the fall of our comrade Pan-Africanist, the Mwalimu Nyerere Chair is planning to We have received the news of Dr. Tajudeen’s death with profound shock, almost disbelief. organise a Memorial Seminar in Tribute to Tajudeen’s Struggle for Pan-Africanism sometime in Tajudeen was so full of life that his sudden departure is difficult to internalise. July. Please share with us your ideas, availability, contribution, convenient dates etc. Issa G. Shivji, Mwalimu Nyerere Professor of Pan-African Studies University of Dar es Salaam Tajudeen was truly of Africa and entirely for Africa. He will be remembered for his intense concern for the welfare and progress of the African people. He was eternally committed to This is terrible news. What a great loss. Sam working for Africa, a task he undertook with an extraordinary display of energy, intellect, Prof Sam Moyo, African Institute For Agrarian Studies (AIAS) comradeship, modesty and humour. I received the news of the tragedy this morning from Salim A. Salim. I was deeply shocked. Salim It’s no wonder that God chose to call him on Africa Day, while on an early morning mission on could not believe what he had been told and asked me to check and confirm. I did and confirmed 16
  18. 18. Tributes and Condolences the tragic news to Salim and friends.Tajudeen was deeply committed to Pan-Africanism. With Taju’s passing we have lost not simply a library, but a huge a databank that will be Someone will have to tell the younger generation of Taju’s inspiring work when, for many impossible to restore physically. In choosing to end this journey on Africa day, he has left us years, he was the SG of the Pan-African Movement in Uganda.Taju was not only committed but a powerful metaphor. Taju has remained true his captivating style at storytelling. Yes, he has tirelessly advocated for Pan-Africanism at the top of his voice and to whoever will listen. moved on, leaving many stories unfinished, yet reminding us that rather than agonize, we have to organize. He was honest, courageous and fearless. Once he told President Mbeki at a public Meeting of African academics - Mr.President you used to to come in and out of Nigeria and even lived Taju, you are an icon that will never fade. You carved a path on this journey that will remain clear there without a visa. But now when we want to come to South Africa we get a lot of problems and admirable to those of us that care to look. Because of you many of us walk taller today as obtaining a visa. Africans – and we will carry on the journey prouder for having known you and richer because of you. Where is your Pan-Africanism? - The President did not answer! Taju was applauded by the entire assembly. Taju had an incredible sense of humour - never a dull moment with him. But his Go well. We will miss your physical presence and will cherish your memory. humour was generally used to mock our political class and the political culture created by Ezra Mbogori - Akiba Uhaki Foundation this class. His family, his friends and even those who did not agree with him will miss him sorely. Our condolence and greetings to his parents, wife and children and all relatives - and the entire It is with deep sense of shock and regret that CISLAC recieved the news of the untimely death Pan-African family. of one of its Board Members, Dr. Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, the Deputy Director (Africa) for the Inna Lillahi wa Inna Ileyhi Rajiuun. United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC) who died in a fatal motor accident in the early By Abdalla Bujra, Executive Director, DPMF hours of today, 25th May 2009 while on his way to the Airport in Nairobi, Kenya to catch up with a flight to Rwanda to meet with the county’s President on the current maternal mortality rate I weep for all that we have lost in the passing away of friend and Pan Africanist comrade Tajudeen campaign. in Nairobi last night. Go well brother and greet Babu, Hansen and all of your dear friends... Irungu Houghton The sad news was broken to us at exactly 5: 45 am this morning by Kavengo Matundu, one of the staff working with him on the UN MDGs campaign in Nairobi-Kenya. Tajudeen will always remain a giant among us – not just for his pan-Africanist ideals and the admirable way he lived to them, but more for the life he gave to every situation he found himself The late Dr. Tajudeen, one of the world’s most re-known development activist was also scheduled in. I cannot recall a time or place where silence could be observed in Tajudeen’s presence. to depart Rwanda for Nigeria tomorrow, 26th May 2009 to attend a meeting which CISLAC had He was the consummate communicator, the captivating storyteller, where the need arose, the arranged for him with the National Assembly House Committee on MDGs and other civil society rabble-rouser, the sympathizer and ultimately the African that had the solution to whatever groups on the burning issues of poverty and Maternal Mortality as part of the campaign for the manner of problem. He exhorted us not to agonize, but rather organize… and as we all now, he effective implementation of the Millennium Development Goals across African. lived his life to the last, organizing. CISLAC therefore wishes to express its heart-felt sympathy and use this medium to extend its So what does one say when you are told that this great icon of African unity has breathed his condolence to his immediate family, the UN system, particularly the Millennium Campaign Team last? and the entire development sector over this sudden demise of an accomplished human rights activist. Indeed, this has created a huge gap for us and other Nigerian partners as we struggle I thought immediately of his reaction to news of the passing of an old African that he respected to engage our government and elected representatives on the need to attain the Millennium immensely. To emphasize what a loss it was for Africa, he reminded us that we lose a library Development Goals in Nigeria by year 2015. every time an old African dies. We did not spend enough time exploring where one draws the line, to determine who is ‘old’. May Allah grant him eternal rest, and the family the fortitude to bear this irreparable lose. Auwal Musa Rafsanjani Executive Director CISLAC 17
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  21. 21. Tributes and Condolences I have struggled over the last eight hours to accept that Dr. Tajudeen is dead. Taju, you were I have been touched/inspired/encouraged by Taju...Yes, if it wasn’t for him all the negative my mentor...you represented the type of people that Africa needs, if it trully will be liberated. responses I got to my Pan Africanist tendencies would have put me down...he reinforced a lot You called it as you saw it, and your fight for global justice, rights of the poor and for Africa’s of my thoughts...Spirit Father...grateful to have been blessed with your presence...We will take it liberation was really passionate. I cannot believe that your death came the same day when forward...We won’t agonise but organize! RIP Dr. Tajudeen Abdul Raheem Africa’s liberation is meant to be celebrated. Worse still, you died at a time that we were meant Addisalem Tesfaye (Speak Africa) to meet within the course of this week. Taju...I would ask God so many questions, but I won’t. All I will do is to pick-up the job that you have passionately done, and ensure that it will not be left to die. Taju, we loved listening to your sessions whenever there was any...irrespective of sector...you were such a gifted person with wide knowledge on almost every issue that affects All of the above tributes can be found at http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/ our beloved country. We loved you Taju, but God loved you most. May your soul rest in eternal Tajudeen/56535 on this website alone there are close to three hundred tributes peace. R.I.P... Benson Ireri, Social Economic Rights Foundation - SRF celebrating the life and work of Dr. Tajudeen. It’s Africa Day, dark and sorrowful, As we mourn a great Son of the soil. Taju, how deeply hurt and woeful, The hearts and minds that you have fed with toil. The laughter fades with every passing hour, And sighs grow heavy inside our breasts. The ink fades from your script But your words with us forever rest. Adios amigo, Adios my friend. Eve Odete, Pan Africa Policy Officer- Social Justice Oxfam GB I know my tears will make nothing in bringing back Taju’s life...but I can’t hold it back. The last two days I was browsing some websites in memory of African Liberation Day and Taju came to my mind so many times with his powerful,energetic, truly African and inspiring words. The events that I attended while he made a speech were more than any thing that I would want to strengthen my committment for my vision. He was my Spiritual Leader in my current youth activism and future engagement in our continet’s issues....it’s a gloomy African Liberation Day... Taju...your spirit, your genuine commitment for our people, your words, your sense of humor... and everything will be with me always... Eyob Balcha 20