Helmi Sharawy, 1935-2023
The Council has received the sad news of the passing on of one of CODESRIA’s luminaries, Prof. Helmi Sharawy of the Arab and African Research Center (AARC) in Cairo, Egypt. Helmi, as he was popularly known in CODESRIA circles, passed around 10.30am this Monday morning 20th March 2023. He was buried later in the day in Cairo. The official condolences will be held on Wednesday 22nd March 2023 at Omar Makram Mosque in Taharir Square, downtown Cairo at 6pm.
Prof. Helmi Sharawy was until his death one among the few remaining ‘militants’ of CODESRIA. Born in 1935, he grew up to embrace the pan-African politics of the independence generation in Africa. Helmi fought against and transcended the idea of two Africas, the idea that perceived North Africa as separate from sub-Saharan Africa. Not only was he a great academic with at least 13 books to his credit, he also practiced his intellectual convictions. He was politically active during Gamal Abdel Nasser’s period and served as a “liaison between Nasser’s government and the various African liberation movements which established offices in Cairo during that period.” Helmi was so effective at his job that his name was almost legendary to the point that it earned him a powerful place in the memory of those who relied on his position as the coordinator for African Liberation Movements office at the African Association under the auspice of the President’s Office of African Affairs. He taught and served in many African countries before becoming Director of the AARC from 1987 to 2010. It was during his time at AARC that CODESRIA grew the partnership that led to the hosting of the CODESRIA Gender Symposium in Cairo for several years and the joint publication series titled Afro-Arab Selections for Social Sciences. The series selected and translated CODESRIA publications into Arabic. Helmi also served on the CODESRIA Executive Committee from 2011 to 2015. The passing on of Helmi gives meaning to the words “end of an era.”
Helmi Sharawy is survived his wife, Tawhida, a son, Ayman, and daughter, Mai. On behalf of the Executive Committee, the Secretariat and the broader membership of CODESRIA, we send our deepest condolences to the family, friends, relatives and comrades of Helmi Sharawy. May his soul rest in eternal peace.
Godwin R. MURUNGA
20th March 2023.