It was saddening to learn about the passing on of Ali A. Mufuruki while attending the inaugural Kusi Ideas Festival hosted in Kigali, Rwanda.
I had joined my colleagues in the board of the Nation Media Group (NMG), attending the inaugural sponsored Ksusi Ideas Festival. The festival is an initiative geared to encourage African youth to take ownership of their destiny, through exchanging ideas and aligning their vision. Ali was to be part of this entourage; how telling!
This was overwhelming. Reason? Not only did Ali precede me on the board of NMG, his presence was a given where serious and honest matters Africa were deliberated. It was therefore appropriate that the very first matter of business at the Kusi Ideas Festival be the acknowledgment of this great African visionary. And so it was.
It is my hope that while at the festival, the young Africans in attendance went on to google or bing Ali, an astute gentleman with a humble persona and fiercely unapologetic African. He made his mark before, during this event and his legendary lives on.
As an engineer, Ali understood the role of technology as an enabler. He encouraged me to use it in driving African growth in so it doesn’t remain as a mere product to be sold to Africans. I had the privilege of serving boards and fora in which he chaired or participated, I learnt so much. He was a source-pool of knowledge.
We often exchanged ideas on our vision for our expectations of Africa and Africans. He had little margin for errors or mediocrity. He expected more from leadership and said so in a manner that I got used to. It was particularly refreshing to see his intolerance to African being patronized. You either respected African views or you entertained yourselves.
For a sense of the mind, here’s Ali’s a sample of his tweet posted early in 2019.
“The trouble with charitable giving lies in tax laws that make philanthropy a tax-deductible expense. Billionaires now use philanthropy to minimize their tax exposure while pretending to be kind-hearted angels. Best philanthropy is to pay your fair share of tax. #RealTaxReformNow” and his Ted Talk on “Is Africa really rising?”, available on YouTube.
It is perhaps because I had Ali on my mind that I was intrigued by CivSource Africa’s Jackie Asiimwe’s contribution on the stage at the festival on the day of his passing. This young leader brought a unique African dimension to the table – refreshing and persistent. So Ali in delivery. I smile. The future looks bright. That is my memory of Ali. If you see a little bit of these traits in me and the many he touched, that was his influence.
Tanzania may have lost a great one, but the rest of us will truly miss this African Giant. He may have moved on but he is not gone.
My sincere condolences to Saada and the children, peace.
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