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Africa in focus

Scholars and friends remember Mwangi Kimenyi

Kind words about Mwangi Kimenyi, senior fellow and former director of the Africa Growth Initiative (AGI), have been pouring in since his death on Saturday, June 6. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, his fellow Africans, development leaders and practitioners, Africa watchers from around the world, Brookings scholars, and friends have already expressed their support for “the heart and soul” of AGI. Mwangi was and, through his impressive intellectual legacy, still is a mentor to a large number of scholars working on African issues. We all witnessed his dedication, his energy, and his big heart.

Below are just some of the spontaneous kind words and memories shared by Mwangi’s fellow Brookings scholars about our dear friend:

Senior Fellow and Vice President of the Brookings Global Economy and Development Program Kemal Dervis:

Mwangi will be missed deeply by all. He was a kind and cheerful colleague, who brought energy and enthusiasm to Global. He was incredibly dedicated to AGI, and as a result of his vision and hard work, AGI has accomplished remarkable successes. All members of our team were touched in different ways by Mwangi’s good spirit, and we will always have great admiration for him.

Senior Fellow and Director of the Brookings-CERES Economic and Social Policy in Latin America Initiative Ernesto Talvi:

The last time I saw Mwangi was last November at an international conference in Asunción, Paraguay, where he was honored for his lifetime achievements. I also had the fortune of meeting his lovely and extremely active wife. They both worked very hard for the well-being of others. If I had to characterize Mwangi in one word I would say he was a Gentleman. With capital G.

Senior Fellow and Director of the Brookings Center for Universal Education Rebecca Winthrop:

This is truly sad news—Mwangi was warm and thoughtful and had a keen intellect. He was always up for grabbing coffee and talking about issues if common interest, always interested in understanding what is happening in the ground and how to make it better. He was a wonderful colleague, generous, happy to share, and cared deeply about Africa and making people’s lives better, he was a good friend of ours here at CUE, he led a number of important studies in education in Africa. I will miss him greatly.

Africa Growth Initiative Nonresident Senior Fellow Vera Songwe:

This is such sad sad and depressing news. Mwangi was still full of so much life and had high dreams and hopes for Kenya and its education system and for the continent in general. He was a true believer. I remember him asking President Uhuru question upon question about his vision for Kenya. He will be truly missed by all indeed at AGI.

Kind words have not only come from the Brookings family. The social media sphere has also seen an outpouring of support from colleagues, friends, and fellow Kenyans for this important member of the AGI team: 

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