Tag Archives: Mahmood Mamdani

Beware Bigotry – Free Speech and the Zapiro Cartoons: Mahmood Mamdani

Text of talk on receiving an honorary doctorate at the University of Johannesburg, 25 May, 2010

MAHMOOD MAMDANI, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda

This text was sent to us by Sujata Patel

It warms my heart to see these flowing gowns. I congratulate you on work accomplished! For over a millennium, these gowns have been a symbol of high learning from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic. Should anyone ask you where they came from, tell them that the early universities of Europe – Oxford, Cambridge, le Sorbonne – borrowed them from the Islamic madressa of the Middle East. If they should seem incredulous, tell them that the gown did not come by itself: because medieval European scholars borrowed from the madressa much of the curriculum, from Greek philosophy to Iranian astronomy to Arab medicine and Indian mathematics, they had little difficulty in accepting this flowing gown, modeled after the dress of the desert nomad, as the symbol of high learning. Should they still express surprise, ask them to take a second look at the gowns of the ayatollahs in Iran and Iraq and elsewhere and they will see the resemblance. Education has no boundaries. Neither does it have an end. As the Waswahili in East Africa, which is where I come from, say: elimu haina muisho. Continue reading Beware Bigotry – Free Speech and the Zapiro Cartoons: Mahmood Mamdani