PROFESSOR HAROUB OTHMAN DEMISE: A HUGE INTLECTUALL LOSS
It was Sunday 29th June 2009 at around 3.00 pm when messages from colleagues at the institute of development studies of University of Dar es salaam started flocking into my phone all reading ‘professor Haroub Othman is no longer with us’, ‘a great intellectual loss’, ‘our academic father has gone’ all of which trying to express the sorrowful loss of such a great guru not only in laws but also politics, diplomacy, economics, democracy, human rights and social welfares.
While the government is struggling to widen access of more people to earn university education, the country is experiencing another huge loss of its prominent intellectual resource that was expected to push forward the mission. In a three years time, following the death of comrade professor Chachage whose gap remains unfilled, the academic community is again thorned in almost the similar way because these are people we wish they could live longer for the current and future generation to benefit not only from their intellectual but also charismatic wisdom.
There is no doubt that, the news were shocking to everyone who once had an opportunity to meet him, talk to him and/or even listen him through the media where he diligently and heartedly spent most of time dishing out important messages to his fellow citizens. He had a passion for his country and had a vision of what Tanzania should be in terms of development; respect the rule of law, good governance and social welfare at large.
I started hearing this great name while I was in standard seven in the year 1993 when schooling at mbokomu primary school in Moshi rural district but my attention was peculiarly drawn two years later in 1995 when he was heading the United Nations team to facilitate the formation of the transitional government (setting up governance structure) in Liberia after many years of wars and unrest.
My thought by that time was sharpened and my appetite to advance and excel in the career ladder was wet by the late professor Othman knowing that the great responsibility bestowed on him by that time was not just only the kind of individual respect he was earning but also the professional legacy that his institution and country will live up with for hundreds of years ahead.
He was a role model for the majority of us in the academic community and almost every student wanted to register a course that the late comrade Othman was facilitating. I personally felt blessed when he taught me a course on governance and development during my undergraduate studies in the years 2002/2003 and when I returned for my master’s degree in development studies in the year 2008 where he taught me socialist political ideas in development.
The late professor Othman was an inspirational to the majority of us today. Not only to those who has gone to school or taught by him but to anyone whose desire and optimism for a better and just society stands beside him. He always wanted to see things going righteously in our dear country and everyone gets the desirable share of our national cake.
His spirit was molded by the fear of God, his professional and/or intellectual mighty was sharpened and blessed by the wishes of those vulnerable groups in the society whose existence rest upon the voice of people like professor Othman who firmly stood and emphasized the need to anchor our political freedom in addressing those obstacles that impedes human development such as inequality, corruption, poor governance, social and political exclusion that will enable all the people to have voice in what happens in their communities regarding their well being.
Professor Othman was not only an academician and/or activist but also the father at the hill. I called him a father for one reason, he was always ready at any times to meet and talk to his family (university students). He was reachable and welcoming at all times and places be it in the corridors, his offices, on the road, his cell phone and at any point you happen to meet him.
A lot can be said and written about professor Othman but the most important is to make sure his legacy live with us especially in setting a collective vision of governing our dear nation which he always felt proud to be part of it. His interests in dialogue as well as strong belief in socio-economic and political justice should reaffirm our responsibility as a nation to stand for issues that will bold our unity and ensure the thriving of peace.
Rest in peace comrade, rest in peace our father, and rest in peace our role model.