Another Giant Has Moved On: The passing of Helmi Sharawy

January 24th, 2023

Dear Senior Brothers and Senior Sisters, Brothers and Sisters, Colleagues and Friends,

A few moments ago, I got the extremely sad news of the passing of Professor Helmi Sharawy from Shamil Jeppie and Hakim Ben Hammouda. This is another huge loss to the world and to Africa. Professor Sharawy was, and will remain a giant of this world. As you can see from the message below from Shamil, his contributions to scholarship, to the liberation struggles and to the building of a borderless intellectual community in Africa and beyond are huge.

Helmi was highly committed as a scholar and he made huge contributions to the advancement of our peoples. He was extremely generous. His home was one place where he and Tawhida (his lifelong spouse, friend and comrade) welcomed many leaders of liberation movements like Samora Machel, Amilcar Cabral, and Nelson Mandela (the armchair where they would sit is still in their apartment in Cairo).

I last visited Helmi and Tawhida in Cairo in November last year and, as always, their hospitality knew no bounds (attached are two pictures taken on 13th November 2022). As usual, the conversation was all the time about ways of strengthening the ties and increasing the exchanges between Arab and African scholars and how the African and Arab Research Centre (AARC) could collaborate with CODESRIA and TrustAfrica to make that happen; strengthening the African intellectual community around CODESRIA; and strengthening the African And Arab Research Centre itself; this is the Centre that he spent decades building and working for, together with Shahida El-Baz (of blessed memory), Samir Amin (of Blessed Memory) and others, with the support of successive CODESRIA Executive Secretaries, particularly Thandika Mkandawire and Adebayo Olukoshi.

To me, Helmi and Shahida were my parents (Shahida used to call me her “step son”). But I know I was not the only one who they were so kind to: in Egypt alone, they built a network of young Africanists scholars around the AARC with whose keen interest in African research was just impressive.

Go well, Mwalimu Sharawy. May Jannatul Firdaws be your eternal resting place. May your legacy live on.

My heartfelt condolences to Tawhida and the rest of the family, and to all our colleagues in Egypt, in CODESRIA, and in the global intellectual community.

Ebrima Sall,

Executive Director, TrustAfrica

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