Bjorn Beckman: Friends, ex-students honour Marxist scholar in Abuja

Bjorn Beckman [PHOTO CREDIT: Daily Trust]
Bjorn Beckman [PHOTO CREDIT: Daily Trust]

A memorial colloquium was on Thursday held in honour of Bjorn Beckman, a Marxist scholar who died in November 2019.

The memorial was organised by friends, former students and colleagues of the scholar.

The theme of the lecture in memory of the 81-year old Marxist scholar was “The Future of Democracy in Nigeria”.

The late Mr Beckman, whom many described as a “a comrade, scholar, internationalist and a friend of Nigeria”, was also a celebrated Swedish political economist. He was a lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

Many present at the even took turns to eulogise the late scholar.

The chairman of Daily Trust newspapers and chairman of the event, Kabiru Yusuf, described the late scholar as one who taught common values of decency and public spiritedness.

This is even as he called for sustenance of the ideas of the late Mr Beckman.

Chairman of the planning committee of the event, Kole Shettima, said Mr Beckman believed in people’s development and showed it in his lifestyle by interacting and giving audience to all.

Mr Shettima who spoke on behalf of the Special Guest of Honour, Muhamad Sanusi II, recalled how Mr Beckman was deeply involved in debate within Maxist theory with the late Yusufu Bala Usman.

“We have lost another gem. All of these towering intellectuals were active participants in that vibrant debate the likes of which have now disappeared from Nigerian academic circles- a real tragedy,” he said.

On his part, Jibo Ibrahim, senior fellow of the Centre for Democracy and Development, said the late scholar electrified the learning of Marxist political economy with his vast knowledge of the classics and current literature.

“He was above all a profoundly knowledgeable Marxist theoretician with deep knowledge of its methodology. This enabled him to make all of us better students and teachers of the discipline. He had the capacity to guide his students to do research that was both empirically grounded and theoretically sound.”

For four decades, he said, Mr Beckman played the role of revolutionary mentor, academic supervisor, guide for rigorous Marxist-Leninist analysis and link to Africanist and internationalist radical scholarship and action.

He described him as an excellent academic supervisor who never limited himself to that role.

“Professor Bjorn Beckman was important to us because of his deep commitment to African development. He immersed himself in the successive radical struggles of the 1980s and 1990s and beyond. He was a central pillar in the coterie of comrades that defined pathways for resistance to imperialism, neo-colonial and national exploitation and oppression,” he added.

In a goodwill message from the Department of Political Science and International Studies, A.B.U, Zaria, Rauf Dunmoye described the late Mr Beckman as a brilliant scholar whose contribution to the department and the school, was exemplary.

He, therefore, hoped that Mr Beckman’s past intellectual contributions will be part of the theoretical and empirical bases for consolidating sustainable democracy in Nigeria – which will pay high premium on equity and national development.

Also present at the event was Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi; President and delegates from the Nigerian Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, his wife, Gunilla Andrae; and children; delegates of National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria and Amino Kano Centre for Democratic Research and Training.

A book of condolence was opened and signed by attendees. There was an exhibition of late Mr Beckman’s works.

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