Passing on of Prof. Donald Crummey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

Passing on of Prof. Donald Crummey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

Prof. Donald Crummey has passed on. He died on Friday, 16 August 2013. Prof. Donald Crummey was Professor Emeritus of History and former Director of the Center for African Studies. He passed peacefully yesterday evening (Friday, 16 August), surrounded by family and friends. The announcement was made by Professor Eyamba Bokamba. With characteristic strength and dignity, Don fought a struggle against cancer.

Orof. Crummey was the most sought after adviser in PhD in African Studies because he was knowledgeable, intelligent and friendly. His office was always open. As a colleague, scholar, mentor, and friend, Don left his mark on every aspect of our lives. He had a big heart and an easy smile, for everyone. Don will be missed by many of us who came to regard him as a friend and mentor. We know that the Center for African Studies and the University of Illinois are mourning this iconic figure, who was the former Director of Center for African Studies, a man who contributed magnificently to its life. He will be sorely missed on many continents. Prof. Maurice Amutabi, Prof. Wudu Kassu, Prof. Joy Williams-Black, Prof. Abdulai Iddrisu, Dr Peter Kagwanja, are among some of the former PhD students and mentees of Prof. Crummey.

Prof. Donald Crummey, (fondly called Don by students and colleagues) was a great mentor. Prof. Crummey recruited me to the University of Illinois, and was the advisor for my PhD dissertation which he supervised meticulously. I first met Don in 1994 when I was at the University of Florida, Gainesville on a Ford Foundation fellowship. Since then he became a lifelong friend. It is largely as a result of his support that I got a Fulbright Scholarship to study for my PhD at the University of Illinois, USA. He taught like no one else, and made learning and graduate work enjoyable. We always celebrated major holiday days at his home with his family, including Thanksgiving and Independence Day. He liked to use his pencil in marking students’ work and hated doing academic violence on students. Don would call you and visit your house if he sensed that you were not making progress on your dissertation. He would assist in putting many students back on focus. He published many books and made sure that his students knew how it is done. His most famous book is Land and Society in the Christian Kingdom of Ethiopia.

Don’s best friend Prof. Taddesse Tamrat (author of Church and State in Ethiopia) passed away on May 21 2013 in Chicago, USA. Their friendship started when Prof. Crummey taught in Ethiopia in the 1960s and continued long after the Revolution in 1974 which led to the departure of Crummey from Ethiopia to the USA. Tamrat was visiting professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for many years.It sad to see these two academic giants pass on within months of each other.

Don leaves us a remarkable legacy: a life lived well, marked by a selfless generosity to his students and peers. A funeral service will be held on Wednesday, 21 August, 2013 at 3:30 PM at the St. John the Devine Episcopal Chapel, located at 1011 S. Wright Street in Champaign. Please forward this information about the funeral service to people who may be interested in attending.

We extend our deepest sympathies to Don’s family, especially to Lorraine, his partner in life. Arrangements for visitation and funeral services will be announced as soon as possible. In the meantime, feel free to call the Rev. Rebecca Crummey, Don’s and Loraine’s first-born, at (217) 328-2847.

Posted by Don’s former student:

Prof. Maurice Amutabi, PhD former student of Prof. Donald Crummey

Director of Research,

The Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Nairobi


About African Interdisciplinary Studies Association Website

Prof. Maurice Nyamanga Amutabi is President of African Interdisciplinary Studies Association (AISA), a pioneer professional associaiton bringing together members from all disciplines in Africa and abroad. He is a former Fulbright Scholar who previously worked as Deputy Vice Chancellor at Kisii University and also Director of Research and Professor in Peace and Strategic Studies at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA), 2010-2013. He has previously taught at Central Washington University, USA (2005-2010) in African Studies Programme and Moi University (1992-2000) in the Department of Development Studies and other public universities in Kenya. Prof. Amutabi holds a PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA in History and African Studies. He received his B.A (Hons) in 1989 in Political Science and History and M.A in 1991 from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. Maurice Amutabi is co-editor of Regime Change and Succession Politics in Africa: Five Decades of Misrule (with Shadrack Wanjala Nasong’o) – in 2013. Amutabi also co-edited Africa after Fifty Years: Retrospections and Reflections (with Toyin Falola and Sylvester Gundona) in 2012. Amutabi is the author of The NGO Factor in Africa: The Case of Arrested Development in Kenya (New York: Routledge, 2006). Amutabi is co-author of Nationalism and Democracy for People-Centered Development in Africa (Moi University Press, 2000). He has also co-authored Foundations of Adult Education in Africa (Cape Town/Hamburg: Pearson/UNESCO, 2005). He has written two novels, Because of Honor (a novel on Islam in Africa) and These Good People (a novel on corruption in Africa). Amutabi is also the author of Nakhamuma Stories (a collection of short stories from the Abaluyia community of western Kenya). His chapters have appeared in over thirty books. His articles have appeared in several refereed and reputable journals such as African Studies Review, African Contemporary Cultural Studies, Canadian Journal of African Studies, International Journal of Educational Development; and Jenda: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies. Amutabi has made presentations at over one hundred national and international conferences. Amutabi is the Vice-President of the Kenya Studies and Scholars’ Association (KESSA), Kenya’s premier research and academic organization. He is the editor-in-chief of Kenya Studies Review and Eastern Africa Journal of Humanities and Sciences. Prof. Amutabi has conducted extensive research on many issues of development. He has taught courses on peace and conflict and gender and development. He teaches in the PhD and Masters Programme in the Institute of Peace and Security Studies at Kisii University. He enjoys blogging and writing and is an avid sports fan, but does not support any of team, preferring to support the team that plays well.
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