Rukudzo Murapa, former AU’s Vice-Chancellor and IAMSCU President, passes away

Rukudzo Murapa, former Vice-Chancellor of Africa University and former IAMSCU’s President, died in Mutare, Zimbabwe. He was 82. Born in Sakuvba, he attended school at United Methodist Old Mutare Mission and received a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, a Master’s degree in Political Science and a Doctorate in Public Administration, Comparative Politics and Economics from Northern Illinois University, in the United States.

Murapa was Professor of Africana Studies at Cornell University in the United States, Professor of Social Sciences and Dean of the Department of Political and Administrative Studies at the University of Zimbabwe, and faculty at Stellenbosch University and the University of South Africa in South Africa. As a visionary leader in African affairs, he served as Inter-regional Advisor to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and played a pivotal role in the development of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). As Vice-Chancellor of Africa University in Zimbabwe, he helped to create the Institute of Peace, Leadership, and Governance (IPLG). He also served as Executive Dean of CIDA City University in Johannesburg, South Africa. In 2008, Murapa was selected for the Woodrow Wilson Senior Scholar Fellowship and from 2010 to 2019, he worked for Khulisa Management Services, South Africa, as Director of Africa Linkages.

Professor Rukudzo Murapa in 2001 (Photo credit: Africa University).

Among his publications, Murapa wrote many articles on African affairs which chronicle the historical development of the continent in the last 50 years, including “The Zimbabwe Crisis: An Analysis of the Anglo-Rhodesia Settlement Proposals” (1972), “Neocolonialism: The Kenya Case” (1977), “Transnational Corporations and the Political Economy of Southern Africa.” (1980), “Race and the Public Service in Zimbabwe: 1890-1983” (1983), and many others throughout the decades, including contributions to Methodist education such as “Nurturing a New Generation of Leaders for Africa: The Role of Africa University” (The 1998 Willson Lecture at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry). Murapa also published the books Padmore’s role in the African liberation movement (1974), the subject of his doctoral dissertation, Geography, Race, Class, and Power in Rhodesia (1977), Rural and district administrative reform in Zimbabwe (1986), and Junior Secondary Civis for Zimbabweans (1986) as well as several technical reports for the United Nations.

Murapa’s contributions were not limited to Zimbabwe or to Africa. As a global citizen, he was instrumental in helping to conceptualize the regionalization process in Methodist education and ministry. He was the originator of the idea for an annual meeting of the Africa Colleges of Bishops, which now occurs yearly. He also played a key role helping to design IAMSCU’s strategy of supporting existing regional educational associations and creating new ones around the world. To honor his contributions, the Africa Association of United Methodist Theological Institutions (AAUMTI) and the Africa Association of Methodist Institutions of Higher Education (AAMIHE), invited him to be the keynote speaker at their joint meeting held in Luanda, Angola, in 2019.
Rukudzo Murapa received many awards, including a Honorary Doctorate degree from Hamline University (2000), and a Honorary Doctorate from Aoyama Gakuin University (2004) in Tokyo, Japan. He was also awarded the Presidential Medal by Martin Methodist College (2009) in Pulaski, Tennessee, United States. He is survived by his son Kudzai, daughter Meleni, and three grandchildren.