THE BLOG

A Tribute To EU's Greatest Scholar, Professor Zygmunt Bauman

It's through Bauman that many amongst ourselves, the very ones who find resonance with the concept of 'global-citizenry'.

16/02/2017 04:54 SAST | Updated 16/02/2017 04:54 SAST
Reuters/ Mieczyslaw Michalak / Agencja Gazeta
Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman speaks during the inauguration of the European Congress of Culture in Wroclaw.

The West has gone blind.

Indeed, early this year when Professor Zygmunt Bauman took his last breath in Leeds, nobody would imagine how the world would unfold, at least not in the immediate future.

It's indeed, through visionary scholars like Bauman, that the future was touched before it was lived in. It's through Bauman that many of our learned associates around the world could find purpose, meaning and essence to this thing called "life".

It's through Bauman that many amongst ourselves, the very ones who find resonance with the concept of 'global-citizenry', could make sense of what the world means to the laymen trotting the corridors of squatter camps.

May I remind the world, precisely my African people and those in the diaspora, of the universal gift Bauman possessed.

During our sporadic interactions, Prof. Bauman would say, "you know Koketso, growing up in Poland, I experienced poverty and anti-Semitism and that fuelled my commitment to social justice. It wasn't just a personal choice to become an activist, more, an obligation to hold to account those who inherited burdens in titles and self-proclaimed themselves as class leaders".

Down second avenue, I'm reminded of his controversial character in the now modern Poland, having admitted that he had once served in the Stalin-era Internal Security Corps, a military unit. Closer at home, I'm also reminded of legends such Dr. Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, Dennis Brutus, Prof. Es'kia Mphahlele, Bantu Steve Biko, Dr. Robert Sobukwe, Jeff Jafta Masemola and many other heroes and heroines my African soil has produced but remain unknown because the ruling elites are failing on their mandate to acknowledge and honour liberation leaders.

Like many other aspirant global citizens, Prof. Bauman fearlessly spoke truth to power, in most time questioning us, the youth, about our obsession with the concept of globalisation, a disturbing feature he described as as 'liquid modernity' to advance central power and disempower the marginalised and rootless individuals.

To the present students leaders of international relations, especially those concerned about migration policies within the EU, Bauman left a global library in his name curated by the University of Leeds for reference.

In one of his last interviews at age 90 last year, he shared "Divisions and conflicts between people are as old as humanity. There was always an intermixing process of integration and separation. Separation was always the guiding instrument of the integrating effort. If you wanted to integrate people, you have to point to their joint enemy, joint other... The stranger who is against ourselves that we need to watch and be vigilant and to defend ourselves [against]. For the first time we are in a situation where we have to commit to the next step on the road to integration without separation. The next step is a step towards people who are in a cosmopolitan situation. There are no remaining enemy against whom we will integrate. It's a new situation that is unpracticed and untested so far. That's what makes our present moment... on the one side, so terrifying, and on the other, so exciting."

To the present students leaders of international relations, especially those concerned about migration policies within the EU, Bauman left a global library in his name curated by the University of Leeds for reference.

As a former trainee who drank from your well of wisdom pre UNAOC declarations, I'll cherish the memories I have with you, trusting your counsel will reach me from above.

The European Union has gone blind, for one of their greatest 20th century sociologists answered the heavenly call. May the universal ancestors, angels, dreamers and travellers warmly embrace your presence, for you gave it your all.

Farewell, Prof. Zygmunt Bauman.