The ASA community will have been saddened to hear of the transition of Professor Thandika Mkandawire, who passed on March 27, 2020. He was 80 years old. Thandika was an extraordinary economist and prodigious scholar whose works on African political economy challenged dominant ways of seeing the African continent on a wide range of issues that included structural adjustment and economic reform, democratic politics, neopatrimonialism and political violence. He was a deeply dedicated member of CODESRIA and led the Council as its Executive Secretary from 1985 to 1996 and continued to play important roles in the life of the organization after moving on to head the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development from 1998-2009. He was the first person to be appointed Chair of African Development the London School of Economics and was also a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Development Research in Copenhagen and also held the Olof Palme Professorship for Peace at the Institute for Future Studies in Stockholm. Thandika was awarded honorary degrees by the University of Helsinki, the University of Ghana, and York University.
Thandika was a member of the editorial boards of Africa Development; Africa Review of Books; Development and Change; Global Governance; Journal of Development Studies; Journal of Human Development and Oxford Development Studies; Africa Review of Books, and Feminist Economics. He also served on the executive committees of the International Institute for Labour Studies, the Swedish NGO Fund for Human Rights, the Comparative Research Programme on Poverty (CROP) of the International Social Science Council, Care International, the Steering Committee of the UN Project on Intellectual History, and the African Gender Institute.
Apart from numerous policy papers and journal articles, his highly-influential academic publications include African Voices on Structural Adjustment (Africa World Press, 1991); Our Continent, Our Futures: African Perspectives on Structural Adjustment (1991, Codesria); Between Liberalisation and Oppression: Politics and Structural Adjustment in Africa (1996, Codesria); Social Policy in Development Context (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004); African Intellectuals: Rethinking Politics, Language, Gender and Development (Zed Books, 2005).
Thandika Mkandawire will be remembered by all who knew him as a person of extraordinary vitality, who was at once an incredibly gifted speaker, a gentle and generous person, and one of the most highly-regarded Africanists of the past hundred years. The ASA family joins his family and friends in mourning his passing. May He Rest in Peace.