Basker Vashee, 1944-2005

Basker_pic My old friend and teacher Basker Vashee (Bhasker Chaganlal Vashee) has died.

Basker was born and raised in what was then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).  In college, he was active in the nationalist struggle against the white minority government of Ian Smith, for which he was arrested and placed in solitary confinement for three years. After he was released, Basker went into exile in Europe and in Zambia, and became very actively involved with the Zimbabwean African People’s Union (not to be confused with Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwean African National Union).  He served as ZAPU’s “ambassador” to Europe in the years prior to the defeat of the Smith government in 1980.  Basker wrote on a wide set of issues, including debt and development in Africa, democracy in the Third World, an militarism.  And in his last years, he was working on a biography of Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe’s descent into authoritarianism. 

Basker seemed never to have quite left the condition of exile, always intending to return to Zimbabwe to lend a hand to making it a better place even, or especially, as it degenerated under Mugabe’s rule.  (Here is an interview with him on his life, exile and belonging.)

Basker was a very smart, but I also remember him as a gentle, kind and warm man, and he will be sorely missed by the many that knew him.