Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. – Nelson Mandela

Dear ASA Community,

The African Studies Association mourns the passing of former South African President Nelson Mandela, who died on the evening of Thursday, December 5th 2013, at his home in South Africa. He represented different things to diverse groups of people, but most of all he symbolized justice, freedom and equality to many around the world.  

So many Africanists and members of the ASA have been touched by Mandela’s work throughout the years and to honor this we would like to gather tributes to Mandela from the ASA community. ASA members can submit their perspectives and statements in memory of President Mandela to [email protected] to be included in a tribute to be posted on this site.

As we mourn the passing of this iconic figure, may we always remember the important lessons that he taught us during his 95 years of life and may future generations of Africanists be inspired to continue his work to enlighten those who propagate ideas of injustice and inequality. In the words of Mandela, “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.” 


Suzanne Moyer Baazet 
Executive Director
African Studies Association

In Memoriam: Statements from ASA Board and Membership

Ahmadu Bamba once said: 

When a heart lacks virtue and is filled with knowledge, the knowledge only increases its veiling. It is like a bitter tree that is lush, but the lushness only increases its bitterness. But when a heart has virtue and is filled with knowledge, the knowledge increases its illumination. It is like a sweet tree that is lush and bears sweet fruits.

The passing of Mandela reminds me of the sweet fruits he left for humanity.

— Fallou Ngom, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director, African Language Program Boston University. ASA Board Member

A global civil and human rights activist, Nelson Mandela was a hero and inspiration to all who care about humanity!

Peter Little, Department of Anthropology, Emory University. ASA Board Member

Nelson Mandela was a great freedom fighter and a leader whose courage and humility will continue to offer valuable lessons for generations to come. His legacy lives on.

Victoria Bernal, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Irvine. ASA Board Member

Africa may have lost a great human being but it has gained an entity even more powerful: a great and potent ancestor. Congratulations to Africa on this head-swelling occasion for celebration. The work of Nelson Mandela the human is done; the work of Nelson Mandela the untaintable inspiring force has just begun, just right in time to re-energize the unfinished revolution. The future of Africa is brighter today than yesterday.

Tejumola Olaniyan, University of Wisconsin-Madison. ASA Board Member