Dear family members of Prof. Mkandawire,
Dear Dr Murunga,
It was with great sadness myself and my colleagues in UNESCO’s Sector for Social and Human Sciences learnt about the passing away of Prof. Thandika Mkwandawire on 27 March. He was not only a brilliant economist and social scientist, who has contributed with this sharp and inspiring mind to UNESCO’s Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Programme enormously, but also a very humble human being we enjoyed to interact with.
On my own behalf and that of UNESCO, I would like to convey our deepest condolences to his beloved wife and children, and to CODESRIA, given that he was the Executive-Secretary in the past.
Colleagues of the MOST Programme have had the privilege in collaborating with Prof. Mkandawire closely since the 1990s, throughout the period he has had several eminent positions; Executive-Secretary of CODESRIA, Director of UNRISD, and Professor at the Department of International Development, London School of Economics, in the UK. CODESRIA is one of the two regional research councils in which MOST enjoys the closest collaboration, with is also important in the context of UNESCO’s priority on Africa.
In fact, until the end of last year he was one of the nine distinguished members of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the MOST Programme, appointed in his personal capacity by the former Director-General of UNESCO, Dr Irina Bokova. The MOST Programme benefitted as always from his sharp mind and knowledge about the challenges as concerns evidence-based policies and how to address them.
Prof. Mkandawire was the keynote speaker at the International Forum on the Research-Policy Nexus, organized by the MOST Programme in co-operation with the Governments of Argentina and Uruguay, in Buenos Aires in 2006. The Forum gathered about 2000 participants; Ministers, researchers, UNESCO National Commissions, the UN system and others from all world regions. It was the event which marked the MOST Programme to become global, involving all actors.
Through his excellent opening words he set the tone for the discussions during the Forum. He suggested a new way of synthesizing theories and techniques from various social science disciplines and study areas to produce knowledge that is appropriately structured for the issues now on the social agenda.
Prof. Mkandawire, – or Thandika as he used to be named, will be deeply missed by UNESCO colleagues. Being a Swedish citizen of Malawian origin also helped him to easily interact between cultures and regions, being a bridge, as he contributed to enhancing MOST as a bridge between social science and policymaking.
Again please accept our deepest condolences.