Professor Mafeje contributed enormously to the concrete understanding of the African socio-political and economic situation. He emphasised the structural need to substantiate theoretical positions on issues in practice as a means to solve Africa’s problems. The annual lecture in his honour immortalizes his perspectives.

The Programme Director,
Africa Institute of South Africa colleagues,    
Distinguished guests,    

I use this opportunity at the University of Cape Town, Cape Town, to explain the background and purpose of the Archie Mafeje Annual Memorial Lecture of the Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA).

I would like to thank Professor Bobby Soobrayan who, in serving as the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the African Institute of South Africa, accepted my proposal to establish the Archie Mafeje Annual Memorial Lecture as our organisational flagship project. The sanction of this project by the Mafeje family upon consultation is highly appreciated and treasured. We are honoured by the presence of Sandile Swana, a representative of the Mafeje family, today, on 30 March 2016, here at the University of Cape Town where we are also having our annual African Young Graduates and Scholars Conference from 30 March to 1 April.

The Honourable Programme Director, Thoko Didiza, allow me to thank also the late Professor Dani Wadada Nabudere who, upon my request, gave a keynote address at the launch of the Archie Mafeje Annual Memorial Lecture on 11 March 2010. His address was a substantial and welcome addition to the realisation of its objectives. He provided a theoretical capture of the theory and practice of imperialism[1] for the revolutionary and progressive forces to have its concrete understanding so as to be able to contribute towards its end in his country, Uganda, [2] his East African region,[3] his African continent,[4] his rest of the South [5] and his world  by calling  for the emergence of “the new world order” and “world  institutions” or “new democratic world order” based  on “the principle of universal equality  of all nations, countries and peoples” whose  realisation is based  on “the achievements of revolutionary  change within  each nation and a re-arrangement  of social, economic and political  relations”[6] in  these “territorial units” or countries. He emphasised the point in his works that the struggle of the masses of the people of the South is an integral “part of the revolutionary programme for the overthrow of existing social, economic and political relations in all countries of the world.”[7] As an organic intellectual of the cause for the global order of social justice, he deployed his knowledge and talents for our world to be “based on the equality of all nations, countries and peoples without exception and discrimination, a world without exploitation, domination and oppression.”[8]

AISA is a national asset whose mandate in combination with its objectives constituted its core business. Its core business is that of research and policy development that will “contribute to the further development of the African continent.” The purpose of its research and policy development is to “promote knowledge and understanding of African affairs through leading social scientists acting in concert and across all disciplines  and through training  and education on African affairs; collect,  process and disseminate information on African affairs, give effective advice and facilitate  appropriate action in relation to the collective needs, opportunities and challenges of all South Africans; and to promote awareness  and consciousness of Africa at grassroots level.”
 In 2005, Professor Archibald Monwabisi Mafeje was appointed as a CODESRIA Distinguished Research Fellow in a joint appointment with the Africa Institute of South Africa. AISA was the first South African public research council to recognise Mafeje, a South African national, as a distinguished African scholar with a high academic and scholarly multidisciplinary reputation and standing continentally and globally. It developed and sustained a closer working relationship with him. A solid relationship between AISA and Mafeje has survived his passing away. He passed away on the 28th March 2007.

Professor Mafeje’s works are our proud South African national intellectual weapons in the task of contributing towards the understanding and the structural transformation of the African continent and its relations with the rest of the world. Mafeje contributed enormously to the concrete understanding of the African socio-political and economic situation. He emphasised the structural need to substantiate theoretical positions on issues in practice as a means to solve Africa’s problems.

His achievements and contributions are tangibly articulated by Professor Adebayo Olukoshi and Professor Francis B. Nyamnjoh in the special ‘Archie Mafeje  Debates’  in the CODESRIA Bulletin, when they pointed out that he was: “A great pan-African, an outstanding scientist, a first rate debater, a frontline partisan in the struggle for  social justice, and a gentleman of great humanitarian principles” whose “discourses transcended disciplinary boundaries and were characterised by a spirit of  combative engagement underpinned  by a commitment  to social transformation.”[9] Mafeje “rallied his colleagues to resist the intellectual servitude on which all forms of foreign domination thrive.” He was “intransigent in his call for the liberation of our collective imaginations as the foundation stone for continental liberation.”  In “all of this, he also distinguished himself by his insistence on scientific rigour and originality.” His “trade mark” was “uncompromisingly severe with fellow scientists who were mediocre in their analyses.” The “power of his pen and the passion of his interventions always went hand-in-hand with a uniquely polemical style hardly meant for those who were not sure-footed in their scholarship.”[10]

It is against this background that AISA which, in recognising his achievements and contributions in intellectual development, especially within social sciences, established Archie Mafeje Fellowship Programme in his honour during his lifetime, deemed it fit to launch the Archie Mafeje Annual Memorial Lecture as its flagship project. The lecture is held once per year where a distinguished African scholar or current or retired progressive African political leader gives a keynote address. Other distinguished African scholars are asked to participate in the lecture by sharing the platform with those giving a keynote address. This serves the purpose of facilitating the dissemination of knowledge produced by African scholars on African affairs.

Mafeje’s academic publications and other scholarly publications remain central to intellectual discourses and socio-political and economic transformation.

The purpose of the Archie Mafeje Annual Memorial Lecture is provided for in its objectives. These objectives are, firstly, to commemorate the academic and intellectual contribution of the late Professor Archie Mafeje. Secondly, to cover relevant issues affecting the practical and theoretical state of social science discipline in Africa; and, thirdly, to highlight the importance of social science research in the socio-political and economic transformation of South Africa and of the rest of the African continent.

Directly related to these objectives are the expected outputs of the AISA Archie Mafeje Annual Memorial Lecture series. Some of these outputs are, firstly, that papers presented at the Memorial Lectures are published as occasional papers and or special feature articles in the Africa Insight, the journal of the Africa Institute of South Africa. Secondly, media interviews are arranged for the presenters to shed light on issues covered in the lectures with the wider public.

The purpose of the Archie Mafeje Annual Memorial lecture  is an integral part  of the  mandate  of AISA  of producing  and disseminating  knowledge on African affairs and promoting awareness  on Africa for Africans and the international community  in the service  of the structural  change of Africa  in its national, regional, continental and international relations.

With this explanation of the background and purpose of the Africa Institute of South Africa Archie Mafeje Annual Memorial Lecture, the Programme Director, I thank you.


* Dr Sehlare Makgetlaneng is a National Research Foundation rated researcher in African Affairs based in Pretoria, South Africa.


[1] Dani Wadada Nabudere, The Political Economy of Imperialism: Its Theoretical and Polemical Treatment from Mercantilist to Multilateral Imperialism (Dar es Salaam: Tanzania Publishing House and London: Zed Press, 1983) and Dani Wadada Nabudere, Essays on the Theory and Practice of Imperialism (London: Onyx Press, 1979).

[2] Dani Wadada Nabudere, Imperialism and Revolution in Uganda (Dar es Salaam: Tanzania Publishing House, 1980).

[3] Dani Wadada Nabudere, Imperialism in East Africa: Imperialism and Integration, Vol. 2 (London: Zed Press, 1981) and Dani Wadada Nabudere, Imperialism in East Africa: Imperialism and Exploitation, Vol. 1 (London: Zed Press, 1981).

[4] Dani Wadada Nabudere, The United States of Africa: Challenges and Prospects (Pretoria: Africa Institute of South Africa, 2010), Dani Wadada Nabudere, “The Global Capitalist Crisis and Africa: What is the Way Forward? Part 2” Pambazuka News: Pan-African Voices  for Freedom and Justice,  Issue 498, 30 September 2010, Dani Wadada Nabudere, The Global Capitalist Crisis  and the Way Forward for Africa (Kampala: Seatini, 2010).

[5] Dani Wadada Nabudere, The Crash of International Finance Capital and its Implications for the Third World (Harare: SAPES Trust, 1989).

[6] Dani Wadada Nabudere, The Rise and Fall of Money Capital (London: Africa in Transition, 1990),  p. 348

[7] Ibid., p. 349.

[8] Ibid., p. 318.

[9] Adebayo Olukoshi and Francis B. Nyamnjoh, “A Giant Has Moved on,” CODESRIA Bulletin, Nos. 3 and 4, 2008, p. 1.

[10] Ibid.