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Prof Ali Mazrui's family says scholar shunned wealth

By Philip Mwakio | Oct 19th 2014 | 3 min read

As Mombasa residents prepare to bury globally celebrated scholar Prof Ali Mazrui today in Mombasa, his family says he had no personal home in the coastal city.

In an interview with The Standard on Sunday, a close relative, Mohamed Mazrui, said the author handed over custody of a house left by his parents to relatives years back.

“He never cherished material wealth and he left the house in the hands of his close relatives,” Mohamed said.

Mazrui has a surviving blood sister, Aliya, who lives in Mombasa. The Mazrui family, including his sons and wife will attend today’s funeral rites that will culminate in his burial at the family’s cemetery in Mombasa.

In the evening, there will be a public lecture in Mazrui’s memory in Mombasa after the burial. Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) leaders Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetangula and government officials are expected to attend.

Mohammed said the Turkish Airline plane carrying the remains of Prof Mazrui will land at the Moi International Airport, Mombasa.

“Prayers will later be conducted at the Masjid Mbaruk near the Central Police Station before his remains are interred at the family graveyard at Mazrui cemetery near Fort Jesus Museum,” he said.

Accompanying the body from the US are his second wife Mariam (originally from Nigeria, formerly known as Pauline) and two sons Farid Chinedu, 20, and Harith Okechwuku, 17.

His nephew Prof Al Amin Mazrui, author of Kilio Cha Haki, is also traveling to Mombasa for the funeral. “Prof Al Amin spent a better part of time with the late Prof Mazrui during his last days on earth and he shall attend the funeral,” Mohamed said.

At the same time, the family clarified that no Islamic laws were broken by delaying his burial for more than a week. “It has not been forbidden in Islamic teachings to delay burial under such circumstances. When he passed on on October 12, it was a public holiday in the US, and making arrangements proved difficult,” he said.

“Prof Mazrui (right) had indicated it was his wish to be buried next to his parents’ last resting place and that had to be at the Mazrui cemetery,’’ he said.

The late Prof Mazrui’s mother, Sophia Binti Suleiman Mazrui, and father, Sheikh Al Amin bin Mazrui, are buried at the Mazrui cemetery on Ndia Kuu Road.

Mazrui senior also served as Chief Kadhi in the 1940s. Yesterday, family members confirmed the burial site had been secured and digging of the grave completed. According to a nephew of the deceased, Adhil Mohamed Ali Said, former Chief Kadhi Sheikh Kassim Hammad will lead the funeral prayers.

He announced that after the burial, there will be a memorial lecture to celebrate thelife and times of Prof Mazrui at the Aga Khan Academy amphi-theatre, with 600 guests expected.

“This will be strictly an invite only function,” Adhil said.
The Mazrui graveyard belongs to the Mazrui family, who ruled Mombasa in the 18th Century and consists of an open yard surrounded by a wall made of coral blocks.

The late scholar was an Albert Schweitzer Professor in Humanities and the Director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York.

He was also chancellor of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. Mazrui was born in Mombasa in 1933. President Uhuru Kenyatta, in his message of condolence to the family, described Mazrui as a towering academician, whose intellectual contributions played a major role in shaping African scholarship.

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