It is clear that Emeritus Prof. Amb. Judith Mbula Bahemuka is an international treasure. This was made clear during the virtual forum titled ‘Linking Scholarship to Development’ held on April 29, 2021 during which, speaker after speaker revealed something special and very different about Prof. Bahemuka. From the young to the old, each one of them had a story to share about working with Prof. Bahemuka, engaging with her or just being around her.
Equally special, but what one couldn’t hear was the laughter , chats and insights being traded behind those computer screens; we also didn’t see it but there were a few secret and silent tears shed, as we all shared in the highlights of how she has touched many lives other than those behind the screens.
The forum was like a big converging of the world online, to honour Emeritus Prof. Amb. Judith Behemuka, a teacher, researcher, diplomat, governor and an eminent person of Africa for her distinguished and outstanding services rendered to all.
In one of her responses, Prof Bahemuka said “I have done a lot of work with the youth. The youth of this nation need to be listened to. Create time for the youth”.
In his remarks around ‘Linking Scholarship to Sustainable Development,’ Prof. Tade Aina, the Head of Research, MasterCard Foundation said that Prof. Bahemuka has employed different disciplines not only in academia but in practice, thus elaborating on the concept of pracademics. Indeed, Tade, confirmed that Prof Bahemuka was comfortable in different social groups, she could engage with royalty and the commoners.” Prof. Bahemuka has been thinking and doing, doing and thinking. Hers has been an intellectual in society, in the streets, in the slums, in the State House. She is the academic who has been engaging reality to be able to transform society,” reflected Prof. Aina.
The following highlights summarize the Emeritus role that Prof Judith Mbula Bahemuka has played in the lives of very many people in Kenya, and at international level:
Prof. Bahemuka was a dedicated member of the University of Nairobi ,where she served diligently until her retirement. I wish her well in the next phase of her life - Dr. Vijoo Rattansi, Chancellor, UoN.
As a researcher and scholar, Prof. Bahemuka has placed an indelible mark in the annals of development through her works on the role of higher education, family and social systems, food security, poverty reduction and community development – Prof. Stephen Kiama, Vice-chancellor, UoN.
Prof. Bahemuka is the pioneer of the new movement in Kenya and in the Continent. Her view was a community where people want to study in and with the community. She engaged young people to know the issues at stake so as to make them part of the development process - Prof. Kivutha Kibwana, Governor, Makueni County
Prof. Bahemuka is a promoter and facilitator of intergenerational dialogue. The way she engaged with young people at Taifa Hall and the Lets Keep Hope Alive campaign to inspire the youth during the COVID-19 pandemic- Maurice Makoloo, Ford Foundation’s Regional Director, Eastern Africa.
Prof. Bahemuka was my mentor. She advised me when I was joining politics to use my position to develop the community rather than using them as a means to power - Hon. Charity Ngilu, Kitui County Governor.
Prof. Bahemuka has charisma, she is confident, she is loving, she is scholar per excellence. She is courageous and she would talk for hours with the first president of Kenya. From the Kenyatta's family- congratulations and God Bless you -Kristina Pratt
Prof. Judith Bahemuka has been a constant president in my life. I congratulate her immensely for her contributions - Deborah Johnson.
An amazing scholar, mother, mentor, leader, and change agent. Congratulations Prof. Bahemuka for touching society and all of us. We celebrate you and thank the creator for the special gifts he endowed on you - James Ole Kiyiapi.
It is right then that the University honored Prof. Bahemuka, because of her role in championing the establishment of many programmes, projects and institutions at the University of Nairobi including UNESCO/UNITWIN Chair on women and sustainable development in 1997; the first International Learning Center in the year 2000 which brings together researchers and scholars for collaborative research on education, social change and development; Universities for a Sustainable Culture of Peace and Security (Wajibu Wetu) in 2013, which recognised that universities must become the leading change agents in the quest for lasting peace in Kenya; and Construction of Knowledge Societies for Wealth Creation in Kenya (Elimika) Programme in 2013, aimed at empowering communities for prosperity. Inculcating the idea of collaborative research, the latter programme drew researchers from virtually all University of Nairobi colleges incorporating those from other universities and practitioners from various sectors of Kenya.
Indeed, Emeritus Prof. Amb. Judith Mbula Bahemuka symbolizes what sustainable development goals call “Pracademics’’ for being an all-round scholar with links that go beyond academic scholarship.