Professor Sam Moyo: A Mentor and a True Friend
I met Prof. Sam Moyo for the first time in 2009 at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM). At that time, I was in my last year of law school and he was there for two occasions. The first one was during Mwalimu Nyerere Festival Week which was organized by Mwalimu Nyerere Professorial Chair on Pan African Studies, then chaired by Prof. Issa Shivji. And the second one was during the Council for the Development of Social Science Research's (CODESRIA) meeting. In both occasions, Sam - as we simply called him - was a speaker who, in a special way, inspired most of us. My meeting with him was brief because he was very busy.
In January 2010, barely two months after my graduation, I sent him an email requesting for an opportunity to volunteer for CODESRIA or the African Institute of Agrarian Studies (AIAS). Sam was at that time the President of CODESRIA and the Executive Director of AIAS. He told me he would like to meet and discuss with me about my request in two weeks when he would be in Dar es Salaam for the Annual Summer School on Agrarian Studies. He asked me to contact the Land Rights Research and Resources Institute (LARRRI/HAKIARDHI) to see if it is possible for me to attend the school. I did not attend but met him at the hotel in Kunduchi where the fist sessions were held.
When I arrived there at around 4 pm, he was talking to Prof. Dzodzi Tsikata over a cup of coffee. He excused her and came to me with a big smile and gave me a firm handshake. We sat and started talking. He inquired about by academic background and my career plans. Then he told me about CODESRIA and AIAS and how I can link with such institutions while working in Tanzania. He advised me to contact HAKIARDHI and promised to give my resume to Dr. Ngwanza Kamata, who was the Board Chair of HAKIARDHI.
It was Professor Moyo who introduced me to HAKIARDHI, the organization that was co-founded by his comrade, Prof. Shivji, with the objective of advocating for land tenure security of small scale producers in Tanzania. I had followed with great interest its work of since January 2010 and had applied two times to work with them as a volunteer. In October 2010 I was called for an interview and was hired in November 2010. I worked there for four years and came to develop the passion for land rights and agrarian studies.
Sam became my mentor. He read all papers I wrote and advised me to write along a theoretical and ideological framework. I visited him at his house in Harare in December 2012 where we had a long and interesting discussion on how to write scholarly papers. In September 2013, I attended the Land Justice Conference where, together with Prof. Moyo, we were plenary speakers. I was so proud and humbled to be a speaker alongside him at such an international gathering officiated by the then Prime Minister of Tanzania and attended by the former President of Tanzania and the Minister for Lands.
My last meeting with Sam was in June this year when I was attending a short course on the Political Economy of Natural Resource organized by Nyerere Resource Center (NRC/KAVAZI LA MWALIMU NYERERE) in Dar es Salaam. Sam taught us the Theory of Rent. We had very informative and enriching discussions during seminar sessions. Sam would tirelessly listened to all our questions but before he responds he would ask me or any of our group members “what do you think?”. Then he would respond in a way of summing up the discussion.
Sam encouraged me to attend Agrarian Summer School next year in January. I promised him that I will attend and looked forward to having an interesting discussion with him. It is my intention to keep my promise of attending. But, alas, having n interesting discussion with him there is impossible. He is no more!
That was Prof. Sam Moyo, a good mentor, teacher, pan African intellectual, and a true friend.