One of Africa’s most respected intellectuals lost his life over the weekend in a tragic car accident.Nigerian-born political scientist Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, who was also secretary general of the Pan-African Movement died when he reportedly lost control of his car while enroute to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya.
Taju, as he was popularly known was also deputy director of the United Nations Millennium Campaign motivating Africans to be more pro-active in engaging their leaders to meet the U.N. Millennium Development Goals. He was 53 years old.
Professor Kabiru Mato, head of the political science department at the University of Abuja told VOA the death of Tajudeen has created a vacuum in the African people’s struggle for self-identity.
“It was a big shock and horror for us when we received the news of the death of our friend and colleague, Dr. Tajudeen Abul-Raheem. We deeply regret the news of that tragic loss of a very committed global citizen who has spent all his life working for a global community,” he said.
Tajudeen was a Pan-Africanist who like Ghana’s founding President Kwame Nkrumah and other Africans believed in the idea of a united Africa.
Mato said all progressive forces should do everything to carry on Tajudeen’s dream of a united Africa.
“The struggle for the actualization of a more united Africa, I think, it’s something that has to be continued by all progressive forces with the view to perhaps seeing Africa becoming more unified in terms of economic and political development. I think what those of us that are left behind will continue to do is to really continue to carry the flag that ‘Taju’ as we popularly called him carried to an invariable height while he was living,” Mato said.
The Nigerian-born Tajudeen fled his native country after being imprisoned by Nigerian military leader Sani Abacha.
Mato said Tajudeen played a leading role in bringing about the democratization that Nigerians are enjoying today.
“Taju actually became a rallying point in the United Kingdom where a lot of Nigerian groups who were concerned about the tyranny which characterized that government…And I think to a large extent that succeeded because at the demise of General Abacha, the next government that came to power really prosecuted a transition which invariably gave birth to this democratic era that we are experiencing in Nigeria,” he said.
The late Tajudeen was also deputy director of the United Nations Millennium Campaign motivating Africans to be more pro-active in engaging their leaders to meet the U.N. Millennium Development Goals.
Mato said Tajudeen also stood tall for the ordinary African and that the vacuum created by his death will obviously remain unfilled.
“I remember the last major function that we had with ‘Taju’ in Nigeria was sometimes last year when he came and we all stood up against poverty. This was really a remarkable thing because he got the highest office in the country to recognize the need for a collective fight against subjugation and poverty. We will continue to remember him. In fact the vacuum that his death has created obviously will remain unfilled,” Mato said.