Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Remembering AC Jordan with CAS at UCT

I first came to know about AC Jordan when I was a student at the Center for African Studies (CAS) at the University of Cape Town (UCT). The CAS professorial chair in African Studies is, at least up to now, named after him. By the time I joined the centre as a postgraduate student the first AC Jordan Chair, Professor Mahmood Mamdani, had contentiously left - if not pushed to leave - after what has come to be known as the 'Mamdani Affair', an experience I attempted to review elsewhere. Interestingly it was while attending classes held by Professor Brenda Cooper, the second AC Jordan chair, that I made sense of why the name behind it matter to Africanists.

She introduced us to Phyllis Ntantala's book 'A Life's Mosaic', publicly available online. In it a whole chapter is dedicated to one Archibald Campbell Mzolisa. As you can deduce from the initials of his names, this was non other than AC Jordan. His was indeed a remarkable life of an intellectual in the then Apartheid South Africa. His love for and commitment to African Studies, or the Study of Africa if you may call it, was unquestionable. This is how his wife, Phyllis, captures it:


Karibu kwenye ulingo wa kutafakari kuhusu tunapotoka,tulipo,tuendako na namna ambavyo tutafika huko tuendako/Welcome to a platform for reflecting on where we are coming from, where we are, where we are going and how we will get there

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