Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Tribute to a Militant and Powerful African Intellectual - Chimusoro Sam Moyo


Chimusoro Sam Moyo, 1954-2015

The University of KwaZulu-Natal offers profound condolences to the family, loved ones and colleagues of Sam Moyo, a UKZN Centre for Civil Society (CCS) Honorary Professor who died in New Delhi, India early on Sunday. Moyo, 61, was at the peak of his career, having recently presided over the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (2008-11). He had built up the Harare-based African Institute for Agrarian Studies as a leading site for research and teaching.

Moyo was co-supervisor of two UKZN doctoral students studying Zimbabwe’s land reform, and was a regular participant in intellectual events in Durban. With CCS co-hosting, he was awarded for his contributions at the World Association for Political Economy in June, and was named a vice-chairperson of that association. Amongst his major innovations was deploying the most sophisticated Marxist analysis to what he termed rural Africa’s ‘trimodal’ agrarian structure.

Moyo passed away following a car accident on 20 November, when he was driven back to his hotel after a conference at Jawaharlal Nehru University. He was in his element at that conference, entitled Labour in the South, with his closest collaborators nearby, and had just delivered papers on “Labour Questions in the African Periphery” and “Capitalism and Labour Reserves.”

Moyo earned his PhD in Rural Development and Environmental Management from the University of Northumbria, having received earlier degrees in geography from the Universities of Western Ontario and Sierra Leone. During the early 1980s he taught in Nigeria at the Universities of Port Harcourt and Calabar. He returned to Zimbabwe in 1983 and established a career focus on land and natural resources management, civil society organisations, capacity building and institutional development. His publications included 10 authored or co-authored books, 11 co-edited books and nearly 100 other chapters or academic articles, and he founded the academic journal Agrarian South. His most recent book, co-edited with Walter Chambati, was Land and Agrarian Reform in Zimbabwe (Codesria, 2013), and with Paris Yeros he co-authored a book chapter about African geopolitics for a collection co-edited by CCS Director Patrick Bond, BRICS (Jacana Press 2015), entitled ‘Scramble, resistance and a new non-alignment strategy.’

During the 1980s-90s he held leadership positions at the Southern Africa Regional Institute for Policy Studies and the University of Zimbabwe’s Institute of Development Studies and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. He was also a land consultant to the Government of Zimbabwe, and celebrated the post-2000 land reform while offering mixed reviews of implementation given its circumstances. He also consulted to the governments of Sierra Leone and South Africa. And he founded the Harare NGO ZERO: A Regional Environment Organisation, which he also chaired.

As University of Dar es Salaam Professor Emeritus Issa Shivji put it, “We have lost one of our great comrades: utterly committed, a most unassuming scholar and an absolutely decent human being.” Indeed Moyo captured the spirit of his times in Zimbabwe and ours in Durban: intellectual hunger, an insistence on theorising not just describing social relations, progressive aspirations for transformed power relations in a profoundly unequal rural landscape, a critical spirit that meant he was often on the wrong side of political elites, and an infinite generosity. His professional networks were also the sites for conviviality and nurturing of the next generation of progressive scholars. He worked with civil society and helped build social organisation wherever he could.

Admired by rural scholars across the world, Moyo was academically inspirational, as Zimbabwe’s most cited organic-turned-professional intellectual, and as a genuine Pan-African scholar. His memory will demand from his admirers a renewed commitment to combining intellectual rigour and the passion for social justice that he personified, all with the sense of humour and love of life that kept him surviving and thriving in Zimbabwe’s stressed conditions.


***

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT ECONOMICS ASSOCIATES (IDEAS), NEW DELHI
Sam Moyo
23 September 1954- 22 November 2015
In deep sorrow we mourn the sudden and untimely death of Sam Moyo, profound scholar and progressive activist, beloved comrade, Member of the Executive Committee of IDEAs. Sam was in New Delhi, India to participate in a conference on “Labour Questions in the Global South” when a car he was travelling in was involved in a terrible accident. Two other friends and colleagues (Marcelo Rosa and Paris Yeros) were injured but Sam was very critically hurt.  After a valiant struggle for survival, he passed away in the early hours of 22 November 2015.
Sam was much more than a guiding spirit in many of our activities. He illuminated our lives and work with his sharp intellect, passionate commitment, exemplary integrity and extraordinary energy. His strong sense of Pan African consciousness and wider South solidarity enriched his and our academic endeavour and public dissemination. His analytical insights always provided a fresh and penetrating perspective that enabled us to better understand the complexities of agrarian change and economic realities in Africa and elsewhere.
His death leaves a void that is impossible to fill. We will miss his warmth, affection, generosity and humour and of course his irresistible charm that could disarm the keenest adversary. In particular we will always cherish his ability to live life to the fullest, even in adverse circumstances. Our hearts go out to his family and his innumerable friends in Zimbabwe and across the world. For many of us, this cannot be farewell. A bit of Sam has enriched us forever and will live on inside us.
We hope to have more on Sam Moyo in the days ahead, to honour him and celebrate his extraordinary life. Please send your tributes, memories and other contributions to webmaster@networkideas.org and jayatijnu@gmail.com.
IDEAs Team

***

An Ode in Memory of Chimusoro Sam Moyo

By Bella Matambanadzo

An unimaginable loss has happened. Our phenomenal intellectual pan African giant on land issues, Professor Sam Moyo, has died following injuries sustained during a terrible car accident in New Delhi, India. We are in disbelief. We are waiting for him to come home. We feel ripped apart with pain.

We grew up following you in our townships. We nicknamed you Sekuru 'Chimusoro', the one with the very big head. All our parents wanted us to be exactly like you. At the end of every school term, you would come home with a report card full of number ones. Your arms would be laden with trophies and certificates for best student in this subject; outstanding record in that.

Your mother, Gogo Mavis Moyo's face would beam with enough joy to light up the whole continent. She was a woman of her own accolades, a pioneer black female broadcaster at a time when radio was segregated by racism. But somehow your achievements made her glow in the way that only a mother can do.

We always marveled at the shiny silver cups with your name on them. Playfully, you would fill them with cherry plum juice and serve us to drink along with candy cakes. The pink icing would crease between our fingers. Domestic chores, serving those around you, never bothered you. You had such a deep sense of the hospitality of food, and the power of sharing drinks with those you loved, that we always felt welcome to your side. Our great tree that bore so much fruit. Yes we would laugh, but you would steer us to talk about the thing that mattered most to you; and even if we did not know it then, to us. How to fully reclaim the land that was stolen by the colonial forces.

Throughout your life, you carried your intellectual smarts with so much ease. In your later years, when your trophies had turned to degrees, you would seek us out so we could sit in your seminars. At that time I think you were at the Zimbabwe Institute of Development Studies (ZIDS). Later on you moved to SAPES and taught the SARIPS Masters Programme with radical feminists like Dr Patricia Macfadden you made our brains sweat. In the beginning we would all look at each other unable to write down some of the big words and theories you used.  And yet you persisted. Sharing your knowledge with us, crafting an epistemology around land and agrarian rights. Together you showed us why land was a critical resource for women to have ownership and control over.

When we tried to call you Prof, you would smile and say, 'vafana vangu, ndinonzi Sam - my youngsters, I am just Sam.' It didn't matter that you had 'eaten many books' as the saying used to go. You would listen to our elementary theories, nurture us with love and suggest, 'let's write a policy brief on this subject. That's how we will change the world'.

You lent your brilliance to the environmental think tank Zero, pulled us into the Senegal based Codesria and introduced us to people who wore Dashiki shirts as a form of political expression. People whose papers you had photocopied for us to read. This was before computers. It was the time of type-writers. Your scrawl was impossible to decipher, but we knew that if we didn't figure out your handwriting, there would be trouble. You could not abide intellectual laziness.

On Boodle Road, in Harare's Eastlea suburb you set up the African Institute of Agrarian Studies (AIAS). It was nothing short of a bold move. This was Zimbabwe in the early 2000s when land invasions were at their apex. Nothing could deter you. Not physical threats, nor slurs to your name. And who can forget the raid of your home office in Borrowdale. You put your ubiquitous cigarette to your mouth and shock your head. ' why did they have to mess my papers up? I had order here'. I would look at the piles and piles of papers you had and wonder what kind of order you meant. Your office was a project for a neat freak.

Last year, we danced until dawn in your front garden. Your lawn groaned underfoot of our stampede. It was your 60th birthday party. Food, music, friends and land politics. The delicious chocolate cake was a creative meme of your desk. Cellphone, books on land with the spine carrying your name. And of course your friends from all over the world filled your yard. Or skype feed.

By your side was your sweetheart and partner, the top human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa. We marveled at how possible it was for two wonderful, strong and brilliant human beings to love each other so much. It made us feel good to see you dancing. It was as if no one else was around as you smiled at each other and twirled each other to Hugh Masekela's trumpet. Power couples that publicly show each other affection and validation are so very rare in our activist civil society worlds. We were hoping for a huge international African wedding and had decided we were going to be in the bridal party. I don't know how we will comfort you Beatrice. I don't know how we will comfort Gogo Moyo. What will we do for Sibongile and her sisters?

On the days I forgot to call to check on you, you would ring. And demand our company. 'Is Nancy (Kachingwe) around? Where is Saru? Let me make you Oxtail. Bring your friends over'. You always offered your home to us, wether you were there or not.

Thank you for giving us so much of you Sekuru Chimusoro. Siyabonga Moyondizvo. We will forever carry you in our hearts. Broken as they are by your untimely and devastatingly painful death. Alone, so far away from the homeland you fought so hard for.

***


Ian Scoones
November 23, 2015 · 5:00 am
Professor Sam Moyo, director of the African Institute of Agrarian Studies, and a giant of agrarian studies has died tragically as a result of a car accident in New Delhi. This is a terrible loss for Zimbabwe, Africa and the world. Sam had a massive intellect and a deep knowledge of agrarian issues, especially in Zimbabwe. He argued strongly for land reform throughout his career and was always an advocate for radical alternatives that challenged oppression and exploitation in whatever form.

I first got to know Sam in the 1980s, when he was working at the Zimbabwe Institute for Development Studies, then a think tank linked to the President’s office. As a PhD student interested in similar themes, he was always welcoming and encouraging, as he has been to so many others since (see this from Alex Magaisa posted over the weekend). Over the years we have had many, many conversations: always challenging, always inspiring. We did not always agree, but I have always massively respected his commitment, integrity and intellectual depth.

Certainly in the last 15 years, as the debate around Zimbabwe’s controversial land reform has continued, Sam’s contributions – and those of his colleagues at AIAS – have been essential. Their district level study published in 2009 preceded our book, and set the stage for a more mature, empirically-informed debate that (sometimes) has followed. Sam has often been inaccurately pigeon-holed as being on one ‘side’ or another. But his scholarship is far more sophisticated than this. In Zimbabwe’s land debate nearly everyone at different times disagreed with him, but they all listened. Whether inside the state and party, among opposition groups or with the World Bank and other donors, no one could ignore what Sam had to say. And his influence in seeking a more sensible line has been enormous.

But Sam’s scholar activism was not just focused on Zimbabwe. He was frequently invited by governments, social movements and others around the world, and particularly in southern Africa. His experiences in Nigeria, teaching at Calabar and Port Harcourt universities, were influential too, giving him a wider perspective than many. His on-going contributions to South Africa’s land debates have been important also, as he shared Zimbabwe’s lessons. More broadly still, he was central to a wider engagement with agrarian studies from the global South, offering a challenge to those who argued that the classical agrarian question is dead. From the perspective of peasants, social movements and struggles across the global South, it certainly is not. Together with Paris Yeros in Brazil and Praveen Jha in India, and as part of a wider collective of Southern scholars linked to the journal Agrarian South, he has made the case for a revived agrarian studies, in the context of land grabs and intensifying capitalist exploitation across rural areas.

Sam’s intellectual leadership has inspired many. He was recently president of Codesria, the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, and was a director of the Southern African Regional Institute for Policy Studies (SARIPS) for a period. Since being established in 2002, AIAS in Harare has become a centre for training and research, with the annual summer schools attracting researchers, activists and others from across Africa. Earlier he was involved with ZERO, the Harare-based regional environment organisation, together with Yemi Katerere; another organisation that attracted young researchers who established their careers under Sam’s guidance. Like all the organisations he has been involved with, ZERO was ahead of the game, set up when few were thinking about the connections between environment and development. And, as with AIAS, Codesria, SARIPS and ZIDS, it mixed solid research, with a deep political commitment to social justice and equality.

With the passing of Sam we have lost a giant. I will miss our intense conversations on his veranda in Borrowdale, as we tested out our ideas and findings on each other, and he smoked furiously. I was always a few steps behind Sam, and it took me days to digest the content of our lengthy exchanges. But they have always been important and formative, even when we disagreed. This is a terribly sad moment and this tribute has been difficult to write. Professor Issa Shivji summed up many people’s feelings well in a post on Sunday: “We have lost one of our great comrades: utterly committed, a most unassuming scholar and an absolutely decent human being”. So thanks Sam for your friendship, inspiration and commitment. You will be very sorely missed.

This post was written by Ian Scoones and first appeared on Zimbabweland


***

Articles authored or co-authored by Sam

Description: Icon of Imperialism and Primitive Accumulation: Notes on the New Scramble for AfricaImperialism and Primitive Accumulation: Notes on the New Scramble for Africa (202.7 KB) 2015-11-23 Author: Sam Moyo, Praveen Jha and Paris Yeros.
Description: Icon of In Defense of Intellectual Autonomy: A Response to HendricksIn Defense of Intellectual Autonomy: A Response to Hendricks (165.5 KB) 2015-11-23 Author: Sam Moyo, Praveen Jha and Paris Yeros.
Description: Icon of Intervention: Th e Zimbabwe Question and the Two LeftsIntervention: The Zimbabwe Question and the Two Lefts (211.7 KB) 2015-11-23 Author: Sam Moyoa and Paris Yerosb.
Description: Icon of Land and Natural Resource Redistribution in Zimbabwe: Access, Equity and ConflictLand and Natural Resource Redistribution in Zimbabwe: Access, Equity and Conflict (351.8 KB) 2015-11-23 Author: Sam Moyo, Praveen Jha and Paris Yeros.
Description: Icon of Land, Food Security and Sustainable Development in AfricaLand, Food Security and Sustainable Development in Africa (892.0 KB) 2015-11-23 Author: Sam Moyo.
Description: Icon of Rethinking the Theory of Primitive Accumulation: Imperialism and the New Scramble for Land and Natural ResourcesRethinking the Theory of Primitive Accumulation: Imperialism and the New Scramble for Land and Natural Resources (253.4 KB) 2015-11-23 Author: Sam Moyoa and Paris Yerosb.
Description: Icon of Sam Moyo's CVSam Moyo's CV (385.1 KB) 2015-11-23 Author: Sam Moyo.
Description: Icon of The Classical Agrarian Question: Myth, Reality and Relevance TodayThe Classical Agrarian Question: Myth, Reality and Relevance Today (575.2 KB) 2015-11-23 Author: Sam Moyo, Praveen Jha and Paris Yeros.
Description: Icon of The Land and Agrarian Question in ZimbabweThe Land and Agrarian Question in Zimbabwe (209.0 KB) 2015-11-23 Author: Sam Moyo.
Description: Icon of The Land Occupation Movement and Democratisation in Zimbabwe: Contradictions of NeoliberalismThe Land Occupation Movement and Democratisation in Zimbabwe: Contradictions of Neoliberalism (173.0 KB) 2015-11-23 Author: Sam Moyo.
Description: Icon of The Land Question in Africa: Research Perspectives and QuestionsThe Land Question in Africa: Research Perspectives and Questions (368.6 KB) 2015-11-23 Author: Sam Moyo.
Description: Icon of The Land Question in ZimbabweThe Land Question in Zimbabwe (1.9 MB) 2015-11-23 Author: Sam Moyo.
Description: Icon of The Political Economy of Land Acquisition and Redistribution in Zimbabwe, 1990-1999The Political Economy of Land Acquisition and Redistribution in Zimbabwe, 1990-1999 (1.8 MB) 2015-11-23 Author: Sam Moyo.
Description: Icon of Three decades of agrarian reform in ZimbabweThree decades of agrarian reform in Zimbabwe (481.0 KB) 2015-11-23 Author: Sam Moyo.
Description: Icon of Three decades of agrarian reform in ZimbabweThree decades of agrarian reform in Zimbabwe (481.0 KB) 2015-11-23 Author: Sam Moyoa and Paris Yerosb.
Videos:
Africa Inequality –  Interview with Sam Moyo 
#StopTheBleeding Africa Campaign – Prof. Sam Moyo: Political economy of Agriculture in Southern Africa
facvideos – Sam Moyo – the ‘big questions’ in land grabbing