John Mukum Mbaku, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics & Chairman
African Studies and Research Forum
Weber State University
3807 University Circle
Ogden, UT 84408-3807


        The recent passing of Dr. Suresh Chandra Saxena (April 29,
2005) is a great loss to us all, especially those of us whose careers
have been devoted to the improvement of the human condition in the
continent of Africa. You see, Professor Saxena, who was born and
educated in India, was a consummate scholar of African studies. But
he was much more than that. Unlike many intellectuals who studied,
researched and published about Africa as a way to enhance their
professional standing, as well as improve their earnings potential,
Professor Saxena took a deep personal interest in the peoples of
Africa, their struggles with poverty and deprivation, as well as
their efforts to participate more effectively in the international
economy and in global affairs. He visited Africa to collect data for
his research, but on these trips, he also interacted with ordinary
people and came to appreciate not only the enormous development
problems that the continent faced (and continues to face) but also
the extraordinary contributions that the continent and its peoples
have made and continue to make to the world we live in. In fact,
Professor Saxena was one of the earliest advocates of debt
forgiveness for the African countries as a way to enhance local
development and poverty alleviation efforts. Professor Saxena's
former students throughout the world and colleagues who have worked
closely with him will tell you that he had an extraordinary optimism
about Africa and its prospects for greatness.
        His interest in and affinity for Africa and its peoples are
reflected in his many professional publications, the lectures that he
delivered at many universities in India, various public addresses,
and the interviews that he gave to the media, as he worked tirelessly
to promote Africa in India and the sub-continent.
        I knew Professor Saxena as a co-editor of a book on Africa
(Africa at the Crossroads: Between Globalization and Regionalism,
Praeger, 2004), as well as a contributor to Africa Quarterly (New
Delhi), the critically acclaimed quarterly on Africa published by the
Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Professor Saxena served for
many years as Assistant Editor. He was hardworking, conscientious,
full of integrity, and extremely knowledgeable about Africa and its
poor treatment in the global arena. He was an extremely effective
"ambassador" for Africa in India and the South Asia region. He served
for many years in the Department of African Studies at Jawaharlal
Nehru University (New Delhi) and Delhi University. Although he
retired from Delhi University in 1999, he kept up his professional
activities and continued to research and teach Africa, as well as
campaign for the teaching of more courses on Africa in Indian
        During his life, Professor Saxena published more than one
hundred articles about Africa in academic journals. In addition, he
published at least fourteen books on Africa. Among these are Africa
at the Crossroads (2004); South Africa: Walking the Last Mile (1992);
Africa Beyond 2000: Essays on Africa's Political and Economic
Development in the Twenty-First Century (2000); and Africa: Economic
and Strategic Issues (2001). He served as the editor of the Indian
Journal of African Studies. He also served as a freelance journalist,
covering primarily Africa-related issues for Indian newspapers, a
radio commentator, and a founding member and secretary of the
India-Africa Society. He was, until his death, a member of two
prestigious Indian professional institutions-the Indian Council of
World Affairs and the Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis. At
his death, he was completing work on two edited volumes (with
colleagues in Nigeria and South Africa) on democracy and development
in Africa. He considered his greatest achievement to be the mentoring
of young scholars throughout the world who were interested in African
studies. He was quite successful as is evidenced by the many
Africanist scholars who wrote for Africa Quarterly and later
contributed chapters to some of Professor Saxena's edited volumes on
        On a more personal side, Professor Saxena was a kind and very
considerate individual and often lamented loudly about the conditions
of the poor in the Third World. He loved his family very much and
lives behind his wife and partner of many years, Mrs. Santosh Lata
Saxena, daughter, Mrs. Pratima Saxena, two sons Arun Saxena and
Sudhir Saxena, and five grand children.
        Throughout his life, Professor Saxena worked very hard to
promote better relations between Africa and his native India. It is
safe to say that no single individual has done more to promote the
interests of Africa and Africans in India and the sub-continent than
Professor Saxena. He was a true friend of Africa, a man of principle
who sought throughout his life, to help those less fortunate than
himself, and an individual who genuinely believed that he could make
difference. He did! And may his soul rest in peace.