Professor Mazrui was also a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University, The University of Chicago, Colgate University, McGill University, National University of Singapore, Oxford University, Harvard University, Bridgewater State College, Ohio State University, and at other institutions in Cairo, Australia, Leeds, Nairobi, Tehran, Denver, London, Baghdad, and Sussex, amongst others.
In 2005, Professor Ali Mazrui was selected as the 73rd topmost intellectual person in the world on the list of Top 100 Public Intellectuals by Prospect Magazine (UK) andForeign Policy (United States).
In addition to his academic appointments, Professor Mazrui also served as President of the African Studies Association (USA) and as Vice-President of the International Political Science Association. He served as Special Advisor to the World Bank, and also served on the Board of the American Muslim Council, Washington, D.C.
Professor Mazrui's research interests included African politics, international political culture, political Islam and North-South relations. He was a brilliant writer and wrote extensively of colonialism and the harm it had caused to Africa. He championed freedom for his people.
He was author or co-author of more than forty books, numerous book chapters, and hundreds of scholarly articles in major scholastic journals, magazine and newspaper commentaries. His books include the classics "Towards a Pax Africana" (1967) and "The Political Sociology of the English Language" (1975), along with a utopian novel set in heaven entitled, "The Trial of Christopher Okigbo" (1971). His research interests, which ranged from African politics to international political culture, as well as North-South relations, are reflected in his works "Africa's International Relations" (1977), "Political Values and the Educated Class in Africa" (1978) and "The Political Culture of Language: Swahili, Society, and the State", co-authored with Alamin M. Mazrui. Two additional influential books were "A World Federation of Cultures: An African Perspective" (1976) and "Cultural Forces in World Politics" (1990). He also served on the editorial boards of more than twenty international scholarly journals.
He first rose to prominence as a critic of some of the accepted orthodoxies of African intellectuals in the 1960s and 1970s who by and large were all Marxists. He was critical of African socialism and all strains of Marxism. He argued that communism was a western import, which was just as unsuited for Africa as the earlier colonial attempts to install European style governments. He argued that a revised liberalism could help the African continent and described himself as a proponent of a unique ideology of African liberalism.
Professor Mazrui was also a stern critic of the current world order, led by the USA. He believed that the current capitalist system was deeply exploitative of Africa and developing nations, and that the West rarely if ever lived up to their liberal ideals that they promoted. He wrote very early about the racism and discrimination that existed in the capitalist world and was one of the first to write on Global Apartheid.
Prof. Mazrui became most outspoken against all forms of oppression. Because of his unflinching advocacy for the anti-apartheid movement, and his active role within the African Studies Association (ASA) in the USA, many of his liberal colleagues who once admired him for his anti-Marxist stance started distancing from him. He was no longer held up and he was no longer gracing the pages of the mainstream political science journals. Oddly, in the academic world, his status as a political scientist was being questioned by the mainstream departments of political science. This questioning of his scholarship intensified after Prof. Mazrui became a clear advocate of reparations for the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade.
He opposed Western interventions in the developing nations, such as the Iraq War.He was not afraid to speak out about the degrading conditions of the occupation of Palestine and wrote and spoke out against the conditions of the Palestinian Peoples. In his book Cultural Forces in World Politics, Mazrui was one of the first intellectuals who compared the logic of Zionism with the logic of South Africa's apartheid.
It was no surprise that prior to taking up the appointment at Binghamton there were demonstrations by those supporters of the rogue state of Israel who believed that Mazrui was unworthy of being chosen as a distinguished Professor.
After four hours the mistake was discovered and he was apologetically released. He was booked for an onward flight to replace the one he missed, put up at a hotel and given five dollars in case he got hungry waiting for the next plane out.
Prof. Mazrui was an outspoken critic of extremism and fundamentalism of all sorts and he was critical of both the US imperial war on terror and those extremists such as Boko Haram and other misguided folks.
In his tribute to Prof. Mazrui, Horace Campbell, Professor of African American Studies and Political Science, Syracuse University, remembered him as a great humanist who had dedicated his soul to the cause of Africa. He wrote, “Ali Mazrui stood on the crucial issues of the fight for social justice and the anti-imperialist struggles. For this, those who justified the oppression of the Palestinian peoples vilified him and sought to diminish him, but Mazrui was not afraid of these forces that stood against academic freedom in the United States. I want to salute the courage and humanism of Ali Mazrui. By humanism, I mean the philosophical and ethical stance that he took which emphasized the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively. Importantly, this humanism of Mazrui was based on the dignity of all human beings regardless of race, religion, region, sexuality or gender. The humanism of Mazrui was linked to the quest for reparative justice, peace, self-determination, the rights of women, secularism and prosperity for all.”
At the prayers for Mazrui on Monday at Binghamton, N.Y., one of the Imams leading the prayers described him as someone whose support for diversity was also his support for unity. It is this ability to work across all peoples that will distinguish Professor Ali Mazrui for generations to come.
As noted by others who knew him closely, they loved him for his character and personal qualities. His warmth was enveloping and his laughter was infectious. He was endlessly generous toward family, close and extended, and to people in less fortunate circumstances. He was gracious to all, including strangers and intellectual adversaries. He enjoyed learning from people from all walks of life and cultures. An egalitarian and humanitarian, he endeavored to treat all people with respect, dignity and fairness. At the same time, he valued spirited debate about political, economic and philosophical ideas. Dr. Mazrui modeled integrity and decency.