1. A Tribute to the Fallen Baobab: Prof Martin Rupiya

Image Courtasy of:  Yannik Mika on Unsplash


On Friday 11 February 2022, we as a community of thought leaders dedicated to as peaceful and prosperous Africa lost a giant in Professor Martin Revayi Rupiya. Prof Rupiya passed away working as the Executive Director at the Dag Hammarskjöld Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies in Kitwe, Zambia.

An academic, retired Lt Col in the Zimbabwean National Army, a historian, and a peace champion, Prof Rupiya held a PhD in History and Military Studies from the University of Zimbabwe, including a Masters in War & Strategic Studies from Kings College in London.

His academic career spanned many institutions, including the Institute for African Renaissance Studies (IARS) at the University of South Africa; Institute for Peace & Security Studies at the University of Addis Ababa; Centre for Security Sector Management at Cranfield University; Institute for Security Studies (ISS); Department of International Relations at the University of the Witwatersrand; Accord in Durban; Centre for Defence Studies & Senior Lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Zimbabwe. At the Dag Hammarskjöld Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, he was involved in work that included understanding the circumstances around the 1961 death of the UN Secretary General, Dag Hammarskjöld in plane crash in Ndola, Zambia, during a mission to resolve conflict in the Congo.

In his over three decades year career as a pan-African champion for peace, Martin (as we all called him) was a quiet, humble, affable and productive force that made an indelible mark on all his colleagues and associates.  An intellectual, a mentor of many, and a prolific writer, Prof Rupiya was incredibly unassuming and was always looking for ways to capacitate new researchers, particularly African academics.

Many careers, including Dr Ayodele’s, were shaped by Prof Rupiya’s gentle encouragement and personal example.  As a Master’s Student, Dr Ayodele interned at ISS under Prof Rupiya.  This experience shaped her style of working and her appreciation of how history shapes the present. He shared generously out of this well of knowledge of the continent, extensive network, abounding energy with the likes of Siphamandla Zondi for over 15 years, truly enriching his pan-African outlook. His love for his family has made the most indelible mark more than his work ethic.  Every conversation with Prof Rupiya always included discussions about his children and his plans to spend more time with his family.

His presence will be sorely missed, but his mark will be forever felt, and will never be forgotten. A baobab tree has fallen, only now can we measure its true size, weight and value. Fare well our dear brother.

By Prof Siphmandla Zondi and Dr Odilile Ayodele, Institute for Pan-African Thought & Conversation