Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Politics of Knowledge Production & Recognition

"Sam's major scholarship was in the field of agrarian studies. Always unassuming, he seldom talked of his own scholarly work unless someone raised it first. For me that occasion came in 2008 when the London Review of Books invited me to write a piece on Zimbabwe. The land reform was the big issue at the time. I pulled together whatever studies on the subject I could lay my hands on. Three sources stood above all others as original and reliable: one from the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex, another from the University of Western Cape and then Sam’s work at the African Institute of Agrarian Studies in Harare. As I read these sources, and the press reports on their findings, I learnt something about the politics of knowledge production and its recognition in the public sphere. Two facts were crystal clear to me: one, that Sam had been several steps ahead of the others; and, two, that his work was the last to be recognized. It was almost as if the press went by a rule of thumb: when it came to ideas, the chain had to originate in a Western university, and the link go through a South African institution, before it came to an African researcher. I discussed this with Sam. He smiled, as if to say, what’s new?" - Mahmood Mamdani Remembers his Friend and Comrade Sam Moyo
"You lent your brilliance to the environmental think tank Zero, pulled us into the Senegal based Codesria and introduced us to people who wore Dashiki shirts as a form of political expression. People whose papers you had photocopied for us to read. This was before computers. It was the time of type-writers. Your scrawl was impossible to decipher, but we knew that if we didn't figure out your handwriting, there would be trouble. You could not abide intellectual laziness. On Boodle Road, in Harare's Eastlea suburb you set up the African Institute of Agrarian Studies (AIAS). It was nothing short of a bold move. This was Zimbabwe in the early 2000s when land invasions were at their apex. Nothing could deter you. Not physical threats, nor slurs to your name. And who can forget the raid of your home office in Borrowdale. You put your ubiquitous cigarette to your mouth and shook your head. 'Why did they have to mess my papers up? I had order here'. I would look at the piles and piles of papers you had and wonder what kind of order you meant. Your office was a project for a neat freak" - Bella Matambanadzo: An Ode in Memory of Chimusoro Sam Moyo
"Certainly in the last 15 years, as the debate around Zimbabwe’s controversial land reform has continued, Sam’s contributions – and those of his colleagues at AIAS – have been essential. Their district level study published in 2009 preceded our book, and set the stage for a more mature, empirically-informed debate that (sometimes) has followed. Sam has often been inaccurately pigeon-holed as being on one ‘side’ or another. But his scholarship is far more sophisticated than this. In Zimbabwe’s land debate nearly everyone at different times disagreed with him, but they all listened. Whether inside the state and party, among opposition groups or with the World Bank and other donors, no one could ignore what Sam had to say. And his influence in seeking a more sensible line has been enormous. But Sam’s scholar activism was not just focused on Zimbabwe. He was frequently invited by governments, social movements and others around the world, and particularly in southern Africa. His experiences in Nigeria, teaching at Calabar and Port Harcourt universities, were influential too, giving him a wider perspective than many. His on-going contributions to South Africa’s land debates have been important also, as he shared Zimbabwe’s lessons. More broadly still, he was central to a wider engagement with agrarian studies from the global South, offering a challenge to those who argued that the classical agrarian question is dead. From the perspective of peasants, social movements and struggles across the global South, it certainly is not. Together with Paris Yeros in Brazil and Praveen Jha in India, and as part of a wider collective of Southern scholars linked to the journal Agrarian South, he has made the case for a revived agrarian studies, in the context of land grabs and intensifying capitalist exploitation across rural areas" - Ian Scoones: A Tribute to Sam Moyo – A Giant of Agrarian Studies
"In 2006, I received a surprise invitation from the Transnational Institute, which is based in Amsterdam. They wanted a person, preferably a Zimbabwean scholar to give the inaugural lecture held in memory of Basker Vashee, their former long-time director, who had also hailed from Zimbabwe. They invited me to come and give the lecture. Totally out of the blues for me! They explained to me that I had been recommended by Professor Sam Moyo. Apparently, Professor Sam Moyo had been selected to give the lecture, but for some reason that he could not control, he was unable to attend. So he had recommended that they invite me instead. They said they had not hesitated because they trusted Sam’s word – if Sam Moyo said get Alex, we had to come and get you, they said. Such was the measure of trust and confidence that Sam Moyo enjoyed internationally. That added some pressure because then, I couldnt afford to disappoint the great Prof Sam Moyo, could I? That would be a betrayal! But here is the point. Prof. Sam Moyo and I had never actually met. I “knew” him through his great works on land, which I had relied upon in my own studies, as indeed many have done, and more will do for generations to come. But I had no idea that he knew me or my work, let alone that he held me in such high regard as to recommend me to such a lofty station. I was just a little guy starting out in academia. It was truly humbling. And so I went to Amsterdam and gave the lecture. I shall dig it up – it’s probably there on the TNI website. Afterwards, he wrote thanking and congratulating me for the lecture, which apparently had been very well-received. I was pleased that I had lived up to his estimation, that I had not disappointed him. It was very humbling. I had always respected the man for his work but now my respect extended to a whole new personal level. Thus our personal relationship commenced. He was now a friend, too" - Alex Magaisa: Prof Sam Moyo: An Intellectual Icon and Fine Gentleman
"Sam was Africa’s leading intellectual voice on land and agrarian transformation. Over long periods when there was little policy interest in land reforms, he and a few other scholars kept the issues alive through rigorous empirical research and theorizing about Africa’s land and agrarian questions in the context of globalization. Throughout an intellectual career that spanned decades and produced a massive body of work, he consistently championed the rights of Africa’s smallholders as well as its landless and dispossessed communities and chronicled the struggles of agrarian social movements for equitable land rights. He followed up his research with engagements with policy makers, civil society organisations, research networks on agrarian issues as well as social movements. He was much in demand in Africa and beyond as a policy advisor on land and agrarian issues. Sam showed great courage in his robust engagement with Zimbabwe’s land reforms. He charted a course of independent research which eschewed sensationalism and illuminated the scale and significance of land redistribution represented by the Fast Track Land Reform Programme which saw over two hundred thousand Zimbabwean households acquiring land for their livelihoods. In spite of the fact that this was for a long time a very lonely undertaking, which incurred the disapproval of the different sides of the debates on Zimbabwe’s land reforms, he was much respected and admired not only within CODESRIA, but in the wider community of progressive intellectuals within the global south for his consistency and the quality of the evidence he produced to back his positions. The growing acceptance of Sam’s positions in the wider land and agrarian studies community sadly failed to give him full credit for his pivotal role in changing the debate about Zimbabwe’s land reforms" - Dzodzi Tsikata & Ebrima Sall - CODESRIA: Tribute to Professor Sam Moyo, a Great Intellectual, and a Man of Integrity

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Now/Today: Condolence Meeting for Sam Moyo

A light in our midst is extinguished today.
A luminary in the struggle for justice.
An intellectual.
An idealist.

Sam Moyo,
a man of wisdom, patience, enthusiasm , humour and wit.

A great heart.
Generous with his time,
his knowledge,
his laughter,
his vision.

We mourn the loss of such a man;

Whose commitment transcends the creed
of individualism and greed.

Whose life is a monument to engagement in his cause:
A challenge to the status quo.

We mourn the loss of such a visionary.

Sam Moyo,
Our Mentor, Professor, Inspiration and Friend.
You have given substance to our thoughts,
Strength to our activism,
Passion to our cause.

Your ideals and example stand forever as beacons of light in our minds.
They give us hope and courage to continue the struggle you pursued with such conviction.

You have changed our lives and your spirit remains forever a part of us.

Monday, November 23, 2015


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Farewell Comrade Sam Moyo

"Our friend, comrade and brother, Sam Moyo, passed on just a couple of hours ago. He was involved in a terrible car accident in Delhi on the night of 19th November... I am totally devastated. We have lost one of our great comrades, utterly committed, most unassuming scholar and an absolutely decent human being. What more can I say!" - Issa Shivji (22 November 2015)

"Thanks comrade Chambi. It was good to see you after so long! Cheers" - Sam Moyo ( 25 June 2015)

Sam Moyo contributed to the cause of agrarian reform with a deep commitment to social justice and activism.

Prof Sam Moyo. A towering academic, researcher & writer. A Fearless thinker, independent minded & very warm human being. Our very Own.

Africa has lost another greatest thinker/scholar/intellectual activist: Prof Sam Moyo is no more. May his soul rest in peace!

Am saddened to hear about Prof Sam Moyo's tragic passing in Delhi after an accident, Zimbabwe has lost a fine son, mwalimu wa walimu MHSRIP

Prof lent a measured voice to the Land Reform debate in Zimbabwe. MHSRIP

Any being active in the positive education & upliftment of a ppl is worthy of reverence. Rest In Power Prof Sam Moyo

Sad to hear of the death of Prof Sam Moyo A humble academic and beyond.MHDSRIP

Many sons of the soil pass on in Zimbabwe without seeing the freedom they worked for. Sam Moyo .

"An unimaginable loss has happened. Our phenomenal intellectual pan African giant on land issues, Professor Sam Moyo, has died following injuries sustained during a terrible car accident in New Delhi, India. We are in disbelief. We are waiting for him to come home. We feel ripped apart with pain. We grew up following you in our townships. We nicknamed you Sekuru 'Chimusoro', the one with the very big head. All our parents wanted us to be exactly like you....Our great tree that bore so much fruit. Yes we would laugh, but you would steer us to talk about the thing that mattered most to you; and even if we did not know it then, to us. How to fully reclaim the land that was stolen by the colonial forces....Throughout your life, you carried your intellectual smarts with so much ease. In the beginning we would all look at each other unable to write down some of the big words and theories you used. And yet you persisted. Sharing your knowledge with us, crafting an epistemology around land and agrarian rights. Together you showed us why land was a critical resource for women to have ownership and control over....When we tried to call you Prof, you would smile and say, 'vafana vangu, ndinonzi Sam - my youngsters, I am just Sam.' It didn't matter that you had 'eaten many books' as the saying used to go. You would listen to our elementary theories, nurture us with love and suggest, 'let's write a policy brief on this subject. That's how we will change the world'....Thank you for giving us so much of you Sekuru Chimusoro. Siyabonga Moyondizvo. We will forever carry you in our hearts. Broken as they are by your untimely and devastatingly painful death. Alone, so far away from the homeland you fought so hard for" - Bella Matambanadzo: An Ode in Memory of Chimusoro Sam Moyo

Friday, November 20, 2015


"This edited volume is about the rekindled investment in the figure of the first president Julius K. Nyerere in contemporary Tanzania. It explores how Nyerere is remembered by Tanzanians from different levels of society, in what ways and for what purposes. Looking into what Nyerere means and stands for today, it provides insight into the media, the political arena, poetry, the education sector, or street-corner talks. The main argument of this book is that Nyerere has become a widely shared political metaphor used to debate and contest conceptions of the Tanzanian nation and Tanzanian-ness. The state-citizens relationship, the moral standards for the exercise of power, and the contours of national sentiment are under scrutiny when the figure of Nyerere is mobilized today" - http://www.africanbookscollective.com/books/remembering-julius-nyerere-in-tanzania

NB: Read it at Google Books





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