Before his death, Kenya’s celebrated academician and researcher Calestous Juma sought to leave a lasting legacy to his community, country and the world.
The luminary Kenyan scholar who championed the cause of innovation and technology in transforming African countries, and whose books and papers about the environment, biotechnology, education, artificial intelligence, and the politics of land in Africa made him a towering figure both in the continent and across the world, has died. He was 64.
Juma, a faculty member at the Harvard Kennedy School, died while undergoing treatment in Boston, Massachusetts. The African Centre for Technology Studies in Nairobi (Acts), which he established in 1988, has remained a flourishing centre for harnessing science and technology for sustainable development.
“Juma was a widely acclaimed academic whose research and writing focused on science, technology as well as the environment, and on the ways in which they could be harnessed to improve the lives of people. He won multiple international awards for his work on sustainable development, and was named one of the 100 Most Influential Africans for 2016 by New African magazine,” Harvard Kennedy School said of the academic giant.
Going back through Juma’s articles for Quartz, his almost schoolboy enthusiasm is self-evident. He suggested investment in the emerging bioeconomy industry to transform agriculture and aquaculture and wanted Africa to open up its intracontinental trade. He also promoted the reinvention and diversification of university education to boost creativity and African excellence. Professor Juma didn’t just focus on science and technology, he also emphasized the need to support the humanities and social sciences and called for the development of a curriculum that encouraged exploration, tinkering, and application.