Death has struck again. Prof Jacques Kazadi Nduba wa Dile, CODESRIA’s founding president passed on Thursday, 23rd April 2020 in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Prof. Kazadi Nduba’s funeral was held on Saturday, 25th April 2020 in Kinshasa. The sad news of Prof Kazadi’s death would not have happened at a worse time. There is the restricting circumstance imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. But over the last year, the Council has been reflecting on the best way to rededicate its mission in honour of and to the memory of its founding Executive Secretary, Prof. Samir Amin, who passed on in 2018. Prof. Kazadi’s passing also comes at a time when the Council is still mourning the death of its third Executive Secretary, Prof. Thandika Mkandawire. This trio and their foresight represent the crucible in which the Council’s mission has been nested and nurtured over the last four decades.
Prof. Kazadi Nduba was elected to the Executive Committee of CODESRIA in 1973 at the first General Assembly of the Council. He served until 1976. The context of Prof. Kazadi Nduba’s Presidency of the Council was different from what we know it currently. That context was only possible because Prof. Kazadi Nduba was, apart from being the first president of CODESRIA, a man of firsts. Born Jacques Simon Kazadi Nduba wa Dile on 23rd December 1936 in Luluabourg (Kananga), he studied for his secondary school at Collège Saint Joseph in Luluabourg and proceeded for his higher education at the Université Lovanium, a Catholic Jesuit university in Kinshasa in what was then the Belgian Congo. Prof. Kazadi Nduba then left in 1967 for Belgium to study for his PhD in economics (economic science) at the University of Louvain. He graduated in 1971. Upon graduation, Prof. Kazadi Nduba taught in a number of universities around the world including at the University of Kinshasa in his own home country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he rose to be the first black Dean of the Faculty of Economics. He also taught at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Prof. Kazadi Nduba had his networking right to have become the first president of CODESRIA. Recall that at its inception, CODESRIA was established as a Conference of Directors of Economic and Social Research Institution in Africa. Later, the Conference gave way to an institution, initially domiciled at the UN African Institute for Economic Planning and Development (IDEP) in Dakar, and renamed Council of Directors of Economic and Social Research Institution in Africa. It was not until much later that the Council acquired its current name as the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa. In these three iterations, the institutions name was abbreviated as CODESRIA. But the Council’s membership remained institutional until 1992 when the General Assembly took the decision to open up to individual membership. As such, Prof. Kazadi Nduba led CODESRIA at a time when its membership was strictly institutional, even if the urge and pressure to open up this membership to individuals was felt. Having risen to the inaugural presidency of the Council and stewarding it to what it currently is speaks to Prof. Kazadi Nduba’s intellectual persuasions and administrative skill. Prof. Kazadi Nduba was not just a fine economist and Professor, he, like many intellectuals of his time in DRC, engaged politically serving in the position as Treasurer of the Mouvement populaire de la Révolution.
As an academic, Prof. Kazadi Nduba remained prolific even as he battled illness. Among his publications are Problématique de l’application du SMIG (2004); Politique salariale dans la fonction publique (2007) and L’entreprise privée nationale et la gestion moderne (2008).
Prof. Kazadi Nduba’s passing on marks an epochal transition in CODESRIA, an epoch calling upon us to reflect as we prepare for the golden Jubilee and lay the foundation for another half century of intellectual investments in humanities and social science research for Africa. We will as a community carry the memory of Prof. Kazadi Nduba, his presence, be it at the General Assembly or at the 30th Anniversary Celebrations, will remain etched in our minds as an informative, calm, wise and pioneering academic voice and extremely supportive mentor. May his soul rest in eternal peace.
Dr. Godwin R. MURUNGA
25th APRIL 2020