Tributes to Basker Vashee

16 February 2007
Brian MacCall - 1 February 2006 It may be late to pay a tribute to Basker ... however, I felt I had to say a few words. Basker had a great influence on me and working with him in the 60s and 70s (I was with the FAO) always re-built my energy and good humour to carry on the many faced battle against injustice. Everything seemed possible in our newly formulated approach of development education. When in those years, we began to realise that the development battle was a political battle on all fronts and not only in the "south", Basker was an inspiration to many. Countless long days and nights of discussion with him helped us to work out a coherent strategy for our various activities and a synergy between them. Much of what we did became more effective for our having discussed our actions with him. Working later in Mozambique and South Asia I often remembered his wisdom. Basker was always looking ahead for new practical activities to bind our theories together into a global fight against the inequalities that tied us down. Hw was a mentor and a conscience and a great man to share a joke with. We still have lots to do Basker - we'll take your laughter forward with us. Peter Custers - 16 August 2005 The message regarding Basker's death reached me, while I was in South India. I deeply regret not having had the opportunity to attend the ceremony organized by TNI to commemorate his death. In my work on Africa these last few years, I have had numerous exchanges with Basker, and have been very impressed with his enormous enthousiasm and unabating political commitment, which he kept up even as he was struggling with his weak heart and breathing problems. Basker, I will miss your inspiring presence, and your shared vision of an Africa liberated from the effects of poverty and globalisation. Carolle Bengelsorf and Margaret Cerullo, for Bhasker's colleagues and friends at Hampshire College - 12 August 2005 We were so terribly saddened by the news of Bhasker's death. During the three years he spent with us at Hampshire College, we came to love him dearly - his humor, his insight, his spirit, his wonderful mind and equally wonderful personality. We feel lucky to have known him. Despite the fact that he was younger than them, he was of a generation that is now lost to us - a generation that included Eqbal Ahmad, his good friend, and Edward Said. But Bhasker was also very much a child of the sixties, as we were. His approach to understanding the world and the terrible and ridiculous ironies embedded in the operations of those who control it was completely familiar to us. He was, in short, one of us. We will miss him sorely. Margreet de Lange - 11 August 2005 I received the message about Basker's demise while I was travelling in the US and didn't have the opportunity to respond right away. I would like to offer my condolences. I knew Basker in the context of the Niza scriptieprijs for which we were both members of the jury. I got to know Basker as a warm and wise person and I was very shocked and saddened by the news of his death. Jos van Beurden - 9 August 2005 I have known Basker since around 1980. At that time I was working with the XminusY Solidarity Fund. I experienced Basker as a warm, patient and to the point intellectual and activist. Whenever I met him during the last years, I have always felt that same spirit. Rest in peace, brother! Mary Kaldor - 6 August 2005 I was so sad to hear about Basker's death. He was a good friend and a very courageous and selfless person. Basker was the Director of the TNI when I joined the TNI. He was unfailingly supportive, full of empathy and a wonderful person with whom to discuss ideas. His political intuition, perhaps because I tended to agree with him, was masterly. Looking back, I think his biggest quality was his ability to bring together extraordinary people in the scholar-activist tradition. He was very perceptive about people and he was a brilliant networker, as we would say nowadays. TNI meetings, when he was Director, were lively, stimulating and creative events because of the people he involved. When I was asked by UNU/WIDER to organise a big research project on global militarization, I asked Basker to help me because I felt I didn't know enough about Africa. He brought to the project one or two people, who were quite crucial in developing our arguments and with whom I continue to work. Although he didn't write anything himself, he steered the ideas and he gave us many insights and comments that were quite critical to the final output. The book we edited together (New Wars) was, I think, path breaking, even though as hardback edited book, it is not as widely read as it should be. But many of the new concepts and approaches, including the idea of "new wars" and some of the work on wars involving Islam, have been very significant in both the academic and political debates. I don't like to think of TNI or Amsterdam without Basker. Sureshbhai Bhagvanjibhai Vashee, Surojben Vashee, Sanjaybhai Vashee, Prabhaben Vashee, Dhruva Vashee, Kiritbhai Naik, Nimishaben Naik, Riya Naik, Pratiksha Jepp and Ian Jepp - 4 August 2005 Bhasker was related to us from his father’s side. After his departure from Zimbabwe we did not manage to keep in touch with him, as much as we would have liked to from Zambia. However when we moved to England we did manage to meet a few times and it was wonderful to catch up with him again. He was a wonderful, articulate and passionate man, and we regret not being able to get to know him better as a family. He will be sorely missed. Phyllis Bennis - 4 August 2005 Dear TNI family, it seems so impossible to imagine TNI - at Paulus Potterstraat or at our new home - without Basker, coffeecup in hand, shmoozing with everybody coming in, laughing with that inimitable cackle. Basker had been struggling to keep his project focused in recent years, but he played a crucial role in keeping us all honest - keeping the liberation movements, the support of which first gave rise to TNI, and keeping Africa, at the center of our consciousness. Basker always seemed to have more stories that I wanted to hear but just didn¹t have enough time for - we all knew Basker wasn¹t well, but only now is it so painfully clear that a shared coffee and an occasional dinner simply weren¹t time enough. I confront that reality too late. Basker¹s history is the history of a huge part of his generation of people of the global south - Zimbabweans, South Africans, Chileans, Palestinians - commitment, struggle, fighting, capture, exile. For years TNI and its extended family had been Basker¹s family, and a home for his passion and solidarity and his humor - it is fit that we honor him now as our comrade and brother. His legacy at TNI continues - but boy do I miss him already! Kumi Naidoo - 4 August 2005 On behalf of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, we would like to offer our heartfelt condolences on the passing of Basker Vashee. We know that his loss will leave a void in your hearts and in the hearts of all who knew him. Our thoughts are with you all at this time and we hope his many friends will draw comfort from the legacy he has left behind. Kishore Desai - 31 July 2005 Bhasker was my cousin, his mother and mine were sisters, but being in different continents we did not have the opportunity to meet often. I did over the years follow his life through various members of the family and was always impressed by his achievements and character. This website and the moving tributes have greatly touched me. I regret that I did not know him better. Michiel Schwarz and Rody Luton - 31 July 2005 It's only now, that the sad news reached us, here in the middle of the French countryside. Just a couple of weeks ago we had dinner with Basker on our Amsterdam balcony - talking with friends and reminiscing, among other things, that our friendship went back close to twenty-five years. It is hard to believe that it was our final farewell. Now we're left with the thoughts that take us back to the times we had together over the years, at De Balie, at the TNI, and at our home. Basker was special. We will all miss him dearly. Lulessa Abadura - 31 July 2005 I am deeply shocked to hear the death of a good friend Basker Vashee. He was a great man and his death is a big loss for African diaspora in The Netherlands. Marnix de Bruyne - 29 July 2005 I learned from the dead of Basker Vashee while I was visiting South Africa. Talk of the day was the so called "clean up"-operation of the slums in Zimbabwe. On television Moeletsi Mbeki, brother - and look alike, specially the voice - of president Thabo Mbeki, was highly critical about president Mugabe's cynic policies. Vashee would have loved to hear this kind of comment, specialy since it was aired on South African television: his passion for his fatherland always have been impressive. It struck me when I interviewed him in 2002 for the magazine Zuidelijk Afrika. In that long, warm conversation, Vashee told me many things about Zimbabwean history which I did not know, specially about the negotiations at Lancaster House, in which he played a special role as adviser. Also impressive was how he told me how his father taught him to become politically active, as one of the few members of the Zimbabwean Indian community. Since then, he often showed up at public events where Zimbabwe or related issues were discussed. He always greeted warmly. I immensly enjoyed the interview I had and he also seemed to have liked it, which made me feel good. Baker Vashee was a unique, warm person, who could make people feel good. He'll be missed. Wout Visser - 29 July 2005 During my time at TNI, Basker left an everlasting impression on me. I will remember him for his unforgettable personal stories (both sad and funny ones) and enduring commitment to the struggles that marked his life. But above all for his warm and caring personality. May he rest in peace. Tony and Di Rodrigues - 28 July 2005 This sad news only reached us on Tuesday, 26 July 2005. The great sadness and shock of his passing was partly reduced by a fax from Sumant Morar (London) who had broken the news to us. The fax in question was the one sent out by TNI. To us it encapsulated the essence of our boyhood friend. Bhasker made friends wherever he went. On the one occasion we visited him in Amsterdam, we were exposed to part of his wide circle of friends, and understood his love for Holland and its people. The visit which we had hoped would give us a wider insight as to who was/ were closest to him, alas merely deepened the mystery of that sought after information. When it came to his life in Amsterdam, we were never able to separate truth from possible over embelishment! But to us, it meant that a meeting with him was, as usual, going to be interesting! He always made time, usually with the help of the Naiks, to pay a short visit to our home: at the last visit we discussed his possible retirement return to Harare and he eagerly tapped into our knowledge of local real estate prices. The return was not to be: perhaps it was a fanciful idea at the time and as Zimbabwe changed so rapidly, a return now would have been foolish in the extreme. Most of you will be familiar with the above. You are also familiar with his sense of humour, his unmistakable laugh and maybe his unique style of dancing! Though, I, Tony, was born in Nov 44, and should have shared many boyhood hours with him, my friendship was with his older brother Kishore. Kishore was a superb sportsman, an especially fine cricketer and with me shared a love of late 50's early 60's pop music. We were in the same school class, played cricket and soccer for the school teams. Bhaskar had minimal interest in sport. He and his circle including Harish Magan, Kishore Gokal, Sunder Ranchod-Patel were a class below. At that age, one class difference was a major chasm. So while my mind and size really belonged with this group, my schoolday experiences, gratefully were with the older lads who looked at girls as being worth talking to, worth dating and worth holding hands with! A year lower down in class: girls were different and to be kept way from at all cost. I went to a different school for A Levels and our friendship with Bhaskar were renewed in the heady corridors of higher learning called "The University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland" (U.C.R.N) in the years 64-66. The early sixties were politically charged, and many of UCRN's bright young students correctly read the path of african nationalism. Bhaskar's activism grew at this time. Sadly the movement was split between Zanu (read Shona-Salisbury) and Zapu (read Ndebele-Bulawayo), a split that often manifested itself in campus violence. Warm and lovable throughout those university years and certainly a fearless opponent of the Ian Smith/Rhodesian Front regime displaying intellect, balance and a willingness to challenge the wrongs of the time. One could go on and on about Bhaskar: we hope that this email fills in a few gaps. A. Sivanandan - 26 July 2005 Friend, comrade, Zimbabwean patriot. I honour Basker for these and for the quiet, unassuming, almost diffident way he went about being them. Staff of the Institute for Race Relations - 26 July 2005 It is with great sadness that we heard the news about Basker. When in the 1970s we began to transform the Institute of Race Relations and especially its journal, Race & Class, Basker joined the radical new editorial team and helped us, especially in relation to Southern Africa, to chart new perspectives and analyses. And through his work with the Counter Information Services in London, we were able to create one of the most incisive booklets against racism to be published in the UK, 'Racism: who profits?" Basker was far more than a mere colleague or even a comrade. He had a gift for friendship, a gift for putting people at their ease, a gift for defusing any situation with the most disarming of smiles. We were so happy that, despite his ill health, he managed to visit us recently in London - to take up again the threads of our friendship and of intellectual conversation as if he had left London for Amsterdam just days (rather than twenty years) before. Stefan Verwer - 26 July 2005 You inspired others and you will be missed... The work will be continued, not in the last place out of respect for you and the causes you fought for... Tamra Gilbertson - 26 July 2005 Basker was like my internal TNI counselor on issues from history, politics, current events to music, film and poetry. He always had time for a hot drink in the morning. He always took time to sit and talk with me. He never rushed a discussion and he always made me laugh. He was a long-time dreamer and a stubborn survivor. For this, I am grateful and honored that I got to know Basker in the last years of his life. May we all aspire to be so resolute throughout our lifetimes. Anne Graumans - 25 July 2005 I interviewed Basker about SADC during my studies and years later drank coffee to talk about Southern Africa and even later about the Partij van de Arbeid. Occasionally we waved in the Vondelpark when I was running or skating past Vertigo. Thinking of Basker brings a smile to my face and that is a great way to be remembered. Rest in Peace, Basker. Hilary Wainwright - 24 July 2005 It's difficult to accept that Bhaskar won't be there when I next visit the TNI, interrogating me with a giggle about the latest arguments on the British left - and for the latest gossip of common friends. Inspite of his failing health, he was so resilient, so perky, so determined to participate and contribute. I have very early memories of him too. In the 1970's sometime, I was one of the many political waifs and strays who turned up at the TNI in search of political sustenance. Bhaskar was living in a room or flat at the top of 20 Paulus Potterstraat. He was hugely welcoming and took me out for a meal round the corner. It was my first taste of pasta with pesto and pine nuts! It was also my first taste of the TNI and of Bhaskar's world view. I remember being impressed at how rooted his internationalism was in practical initiatives and plans. We talked for example, about the Transnational Information Exchange, an extremely ambitious but very practical research and organising resource to support workplace trade unionism develop international organisations across industrial sectors and production chains - telecoms, the car industry, the cocoa production process from peasant farmers in Brazil and Ghana to workers in chocolate factories in Britain and Holland. It was one of many timely and creative initiatives for which Bhaskar was responsible. His leadership was simultaneously creative and modest, always encouraging others, giving autonomy and advice. As well as learning from his example, we must record what we can of his work. It will lead us to understand grass roots organisations and initiatives that do not always figure in trandtional histories, even of the left. Only a week or so ago, Fiona and I we saying we must find someone to record his life while he was still alive. Now we must do it without him. Sabby Sagall - 23 July 2005 Ceremony of Respect and Remembrance Ketelhuis, 23 July Testimonies The death of a close friend of nearly 40 years' standing, especially a man as vibrant and sensitive as Basker, cannot but impoverish one's own life. Indeed, his untimely passing will make a huge dent in many lives. Basker's forbears were Brahmins and he used to joke about his high-caste background. But he also described Asians as the Jews of Africa, and perhaps his outsider status helped him to understand and empathise with the oppressed everywhere. Basker grew up in the repressive atmosphere of segregationist, settler-colonial Rhodesia and, as a teenager, became committed to the cause of African freedom. As a young man, he joined the liberation struggle, becoming a member of ZAPU and a protégé of the late Joshua Nkomo. He spent a year in prison, where he was tortured, then in 1965 he went into exile in London where he spent ten hectic years working for the liberation of Zimbabwe. At the LSE, where I first met him in the late sixties, he was present at the birth of the students' movement, and indeed was one of its midwives, as John Rose has reminded us in his tribute. Basker's experience of the radical sixties fused with his commitment to African nationalism to produce an original political and cultural mix. He became a Marxist and joind the International Socialists. Basker had a keen intellect and few people knew more about Africa and the Third World in general than him. In 1972, he was invited to lead a new radical research organisation - Counter-Information Services - which was to focus on multinational corporations and their destructive impact on the Third World. A series of memorable "Anti-Reports" were produced in which the neo-colonial penetration of the Third World was systematically exposed. In 1977, the success of CIS led to his being head-hunted again, this time to become director of the prestigious TNI, 'a world-wide fellowship of scholar-activists', a post he held for ten years. But even after relinquishing his post, he was to retain a close intellectual, political and personal relationship with the TNI. In the course of his years in Amsterdam, Basker built up a reputation as one of Europe's leading African intellectuals. In 1980, he was elated at the achievement of Zimbabwean independence even though his own party, ZAPU, lost out in the jockeying for power to Robert Mugabe's ZANU. But it was not long before disappointment set in at the speed with which the Mugabe regime capitulated to western multinationals and at the extent to which post-colonial Zimbabwe became dominated by an increasingly authoritarian regime. At one level, Basker became a citizen of the world, with his roots in Africa, but also at home in his adopted Europe - London in particular - and the USA, where he taught for several years after his first heart attack in 1987. He was well versed in European culture, its literature and radical politics. At another level, however, he remained the outsider, estranged from his beloved Zimbabwe, never wholeheartedly wedded to Europe. The last few years of Basker's life were dogged by ill-health, a condition he bore with characteristic fortitude. To the end, he remained committed to the values and ideals that fired our imagination in the late sixties - a world without war, poverty, racism and oppression, a world based on human solidarity. Basker was a warm and generous human being, possessed of immense charm, instantly liked by anyone who met him. He had a great sense of fun and also a sharp sense of humour, which he often directed against the absurdities of our society. These features made him unusually good company. Basker and I became close friends during the seven years that he lived in my house in the seventies. He was a loving and loyal friend, and a devoted comrade and colleague. Like so many, I shall miss him. Diakite Diakaridia - 23 July 2005 Ceremony of Respect and Remembrance Ketelhuis, 23 July Testimonies Je suis Diakite Zakarias un ami de Basker Vashee bientôt 12 ans. J´ai rencontre Basker pour la première fois a Wageningen et après a Maastricht au global coalition de l´afrique. J´ai beaucoup appris de lui dans la vie en générale. Basker était un homme universel, je ne pourrais pas faire un portrait exact de lui mais philosophiquement je pourrais bien le définir. Durant la vie l´homme est capable de tout mais au delà de la vie l´homme n´est que la charge des autres, c´est pour cela on doit être positive et resonnable dans ce monde qui n´a pas de fin. Le dimanche dernier j´étais avec lui au Vondel Park sur la terrasse de Vertigo mais je ne savais qu´il était venu pour me donner au revoir. Après j´ai marche un peu avec lui, il me parlais du nouveau bâtiment de Transnational Institute et j´ai fais un rendez vous avec lui pour venir voir la nouvelle place dans la semaine. Basker était quelqu´un de simple avec une tolérance de la compréhension des problèmes des autres. Basker pouvait faire la synthèse des choses et de mettre le problème dans un angle bien détermine. Il m´a toujours dit: Pour avoir la paix il faut dire la vérité parce que la vérité est la base de la compréhension et du progrès. Pour vivre en harmonie avec les autres, il faut être au sein des autres, de comprendre leurs problèmes du jour, leurs procupations dans l´avenir et en leurs aidant de trouver une solution propre a leurs situations, c´est ça l´harmonie d´une vie collectif. Basker nous a montre ce chemin. Basker a toujours mis sa connaissance au service des autres. Le secret c´est une qualité de la personnalité d´un individu. Le pouvoir c´est une force qui est lieu a quelques choses des que cette invisible se disparaître, il n´y aura plus de pouvoir. La force c´est une chance que quelques individu recevrons naturellement mais cette force doit pas être brutale et dictatoriale au service d´un homme. La vie est la chose naturelle que le tout puissant nous a confier pour un bout de temps. Basker était l´incarnation d´un vrais africain. L´africain n´est pas l´homme de la peau noire ou de la peau blanche. C´est l´homme qui a une conception de la pensée culturelle et politique de l´afrique. Le parcourt de Basker est très riche tant en professionnel, en politique et dans la vie sociale. Sur mon expérience a cote de lui, j´ai devenu la vie d´un homme sur trois temps: Le temps de l´ignorance Le temps de l´analyse Et le temps de l´expérience En vrais terme de philosophie ses trois temps nous permet de faire le chemin de l´infini en grosse modo le chemin de la vie. Pour Basker la politique est une école ou on forme des diverses personnes négatives et positives mais c´est la seule école qui est complexe pour définir ses structures d´instructions. Basker était a la disposition de ceux qui voudraient solliciter son avis ou ses recommandations; qu´ils soient de Zimbabwe, d´Afrique ou d´ailleurs, ils étaient les bienvenues. Il était disponible de ceux qui pensaient qu´il peut être utile pour résoudre leurs problèmes. En politique j´ai toujours eu la même raisonnement que lui sur les problèmes de l´afrique. C´est le dépassement de la difficulté qui développe la joie. Cher Basker ! la souffrance est une signature de douleur car la beauté de la vie nous a donne une très grande diversité. Si Dieu est Dieu, le tout puissant, il suffit et je vous confie a lui. Cher ami; Cher grand frère; Basker nous a montre la vraie vie. La vraie vie, c´est la compréhension, la tolérance, la liberté, l´amour, la paix et la beauté intérieur. Ces tout ce facteur qui nous donne un rayon soleil dans l´esprit et dans le cœur. La vérité est un devoir mais cette tache est difficile a accomplir sauf si tu es sein. Tout est normal il faut être seulement a la place de l´autre pour comprendre. Basker la nouvelle génération poursuivra ton chemin pour la démocratie en Afrique. Oh bon Dieu ! Basker est parti L´homme, cet être essentiellement social compose de connu et d´inconnu., est une entité totale indivisible et un élément dialectiquement intègre dans un processus socio-historique indépendant de sa volonté propre. Sa vie sociale, l´homme ne peut atteindre aucun progrès. Et comme tout corps place dans le vide, l´homme en dehors de la société perd avec ses qualités humaines, toute utilité, toute signification et tout rayonnement. Dans la recherche de son efficacité pratique et de son utilité sociale, l´homme parcourt nécessairement un chemin qui reste continu, bien que subdivise en phases qualitativement différentes les unes aux autres. Le moteur essentiel de son évolution est ce sens supérieur qui s´appelle la conscience, la quelle exprime le degré de perfectionnement de toutes ses facultés et toutes les capacités de compréhension et d´expression de sa volonté et de ses aspirations. Oh bon Dieu ! le tout puissant ! Oh Basker ! que la terre vous réserve une bonne place. Basker, vous etez un exemple pour la jeunesse africaine; L´africain est un homme de famille, de groupe. Il ne se sent en sécurité qu´en tant que membre d´une communauté. Vertigo ! Vertigo ! Vondel Park ! Vondel Park ! Si on aient croyant c´est prière ! Que la terre vous soit légère Au revoir... Au revoir... Au revoir Cher ami, cher grand frere, cher fils d’Afrique et fils de l’humanité, que la terre soit légère pour vous. Au revoir... au revoir... au revoir Amadou Kasse - 23 July 2005 We will not forget Basker in our prayers and let's not forget his kindness and generousity. Jaff Napoleon - 23 July 2005 I am really very devastated getting this sad news. Who can ignore what a sweet person Basker was to all of us. He was indeed a trademark at TNI, modest, happy, good sense of humour, always with a smile and making every one to laugh once he is around. May his soul rest in perfect peace. Back here, I am going to offer him a special church mass next week with some friends. Since Thursday, I am wearing black in honour of him. Giovanni Arrighi - 23 July 2005 It is a terribly sad news for me. I did not know of his illness and a few months ago I asked Tom Reifer, who was visiting your Institute, to look him up and convey to him my best wishes. I always hoped that sooner or later we would catch up with one another in person. I missed his company and will even more now. He is one of my former students I am most proud of, and a reason why I consider my long career as teacher worthwhile. Cecile Landman - 22 July 2005 Takes me some day to get words together. I met Basker occasionally, in the Vondelpark, or De Balie, or elsewhere and irregularly after my coming back to these not-so-recognizable Netherlands. He was a good part of that piece that felt like home. Roger Burbach - 22 July 2005 I am shocked to hear about Basker. He was indeed a tremedously vibrant spirit. Corrie Roeper - 22 July 2005 The first time I met Basker was when he gave an introduction at KZA for co-operants who were preparing themselves to start working as teachers in Zimbabwe. I thought then that I had already quite some knowlegde about Zimbabwe. Basker's story pictured however a new reality for me, and I knew it was a sincere one, of which I had to be aware. His angle of view was from the people, the poor and the oppressed. Since then, over the years, I saw him from time to time. At debates, like in de Balie or Rode Hoed, it was always a pleasure to sit next to him or look him up afterwards, and ask his opinions. Which he would kindly share. Over the years he impressed me with his sharp mind, in combination with a lot of mildness towards people. His death must be is a big loss for his relatives and friends, and is also a real loss for TNI, and for many people who are involved in Africa. It is good to know that he will return to his beloved Zimbabwe. I hope his soul will find peace there. At the same time I hope that some of his spirit will stay here. Go well Basker. John Cavanagh - 22 July 2005 I met Basker 23 years ago at TNI and I didn't know much about anything, but I was interested in the chilling power of global corporations. Basker didn't care that I didn't know very much. He just sat me down in his elegant humanity and listened and shared. Turns out he knew a lot about global corporations. Over the next decade he became a dear friend, was always generous with all he could contribute. I think of Basker as a person who sacrificed more than almost anyone I know for the ideals and values that progressives hold dear. I know that TNI and Cora and Peter and some of us at IPS were like his family, and so I think many of us are feeling like we've lost a brother. I'm wishing I could spend more time with him, wishing I were there at the end. He died way too young. In the end, these institutions we build are only as good as the people who become their pillars. TNI's greatness owes a lot to Basker. So, I join you all in honoring him. And, really in the end, I guess I can't think of a better way to go than riding a bicycle in Vondelspark. Myriam Vander Stichele - 22 July 2005 Basker was very serious even if his warm laughter and humour will remain with us for long. He was serious to find different ways to get Africa back on its feet, he was serious in having the arguments right, he was serious in having the right strategic decisions of TNI, the institute he dedicated his life, and his physical heart he told me, to. In May this year he had great plans for projects for Africa, as well as showing the real face of US life, politics and society to the rest of the world. He hated his condition that was preventing him from really going forward as he wished. All that time, he remained a loveable personality and a pillar of the institute. We will miss his love, his humor, his history, his plans, his comments, his seriousness, but we will continue the struggle and take him with us. Constant Vecht - 22 July 2005 I will always remember our "sunday afternoons" at Vertigo in the Vondelpark, where we discussed at length the international political situation, together with our good friend Elliot Eisenberg. But most of all I will remember the friendly smile on your face when we were making jokes about everything. Goodbye my friend Laurie Flynn - 22 July 2005 Basker's shining humanity brought pleasure and inspiration to many of us (who were his fellow students at LSE in another century or who knew him by another route) and because of this our lives are grievously dminished by his death. Fond and inspiring memories remain, steadfast and strong like the man himself. Memories of his courage and integrity, his deep intelligence and good nature, his optimism about life's possibilities, his glorious smile and infectious laugh. Deep condolences to all his family members in Zimbabwe and to his Dutch "family" at TNI. With love and gratitude for this special man. Annette van den Berg - 22 July 2005 It is a shock to hear of Basker’s sudden death – even knowing about his heart problems for years – but what a way to go! For me, Basker was the wise man in the African Diaspora – a scholar, committed, an activist, and also humorous, realistic and so admirably modest in the meantime – but I’m sure he would laugh about this connotation himself. That is how we worked out plans for the association of African professionals and a seminar in the nineties – his ideas, commitment and inspiration were indispensable but so were the many good laughs we had. He will be missed very much, but his inspiration to so many activities and so many people will not be lost – he surely has made a difference. Angelika Münz - 22 July 2005 It is with shock and deep sadness that I come to learn about the death of Basker. As TNI director, he was the first person to welcome and introduce me to the community at Paulus Potterstraat, when I started to work there for the South Africa Economic Research and Training Project (SAERT) in 1984. He was the personified commitment to the liberation struggle of the people of Southern Africa and to the course of justice and solidarity in the world. A gentle, warm man with a great sense of humour, an inspiring teacher, a good friend and a joy to work with. Without his support, the SAERT Project, which aimed at planning for post-apartheid South Africa at a stage when liberation seemed to be far out of sight, would have never got off the ground. He put all his spirit and total commitment into it, although "it was easier to liberate Zimbabwe than to set up this project", as he once remarked. He and the project director Selebano Mathlape teamed up in a courageous effort and were the finest people to work with I can think of. I am deeply grateful for all the years that we spent together at Paulus Potterstreet in this extraordinary community of people- years which shaped me for lifetime. The few times that I saw Basker after I left the Institute some 13 years ago, I felt that the political developments in Zimbabwe were a source of grievance to him that contributed to break his heart. It pained me that I could never see him go back to his home country the way I could witness South Africans in exile going home. TNI however, was a home to him and it was his family. Thank you, everybody at TNI, for caring so much for him throughout these years and especially this week. Farewell, Basker. I'll miss you. Daniel Kollmer - 22 July 2005 Personally I did not know Basker as well as I could have, and probably would have wished to had I been more involved. Nevertheless, I saw him as a person worthy of respect and reverence if only for his dedication to a cause, literally until his last days. May his memory stay alive. Alex Veldhof - 22 July 2005 It was in 1975 that Basker introduced me to the Transnational Institute (where he was the director) and eventually to the Institute for Policy Studies. I learned about his struggle (when he was still a schoolboy) for independence of Rhodesia, which was ruled by Ian Smith, about his fight with ZAPU and his time in prison. It was with that same desire for justice that a few years later he assembled some people to support the request for a permit of residence of a former CIA agent who quit the agency. Headed by Basker we met several times and did our utmost, but it was of no avail. I make a jump from 1977 to 2004 when we made a cycling-tour along the Amstel river to Ouderkerk and Abcoude. During the many stops we had lively discussions about politics, culture, architecture, his disappointments about Zimbabwe... Later in the year we had a dinner in Amsterdam. It turned out to be our last dinner and our last cycling-tour. We intended to have another cycling-tour next month. Alas, I lost a great friend. Gerry Paster - 22 July 2005 I salute an old friend and comrade. I've known him almost 40 years and I'd like us to remember him as a kid in short khaki trousers in a British style school uniform with a passionate hatred of injustice, rather like myself, a passion which inspired his life. He was born in the marginalized Asian trading community in Zimbabwe, I think the suburb is called Highfields in Harare. Basker was almost alone among Asians in supporting the anti-colonial struggle and was thus highly significant in building a bridge between the black and Asian communities during the days of the Second Chimurenga. Many of us were passionate schoolboys and students in those days, but in the Rhodesia of Ian Smith you got thrown into jail. And that's what happened to dear old rebellious Basker. This led to his scholarship for politically persecuted students and so he came to the London School of Economics in 1965 or 1966 which is where I met him. I wonder if persecuted students can find a haven like that in these cruel days. As John has said he was a real inspiration to us students, coming from the thick of the colonial struggles. And so it was that he took his place, quite an important place, in the student skirmishes of the late 60s. After LSE he was busy doing stuff for ZAPU in Europe and Zambia. I remember once mentioning a fishing camp on the middle reaches of the Zambesi river, couple of hundred kilometers downstream from Victoria Falls and he casually mentioned that's where he'd waded across the Zambesi with ZAPU to infiltrate from Zambia. But we both found our separate ways to Amsterdam and so bumped into each other. And it's where we set up the foundation to alleviate the effects of the terrible drought in Zimbabwe in 1993. Just one of the many significant and useful things he did. Traveling with him in Africa, he looked like a UN diplomat or a central banker. Certainly compared to myself, his impeccable clothes, good looks and easy charm made him look quite at home at the Holiday Inn poolside, which, in a most African manner he'd wangled at a discount. He worked for ZAPU, he took part in the delegation at the Lancaster House talks in 1980 when Zimbabwe got independence. And he helped organize the subsequent election at which comrade Robert Mugabe came to power. And you know, I think that most of his activities throughout his life would have got him thrown into jail under today's Patriot Act and illiberal UK and Dutch laws. One might wonder what he might have become if Basker had been in ZANU. A ministerial post? An Embassy? But he was in ZAPU, and in recognition, he once told me modestly, he had been taken into the N'dbele tribe in an ancient ceremony at Matopos, near Bulawayo, the place called World's View by Cecil Rhodes. A remarkable, truly beautiful place, sacred to the N'dbele and which Basker told me was one of the proudest moments of his life. Seems a most appropriate spot for his ashes to be scattered. A few years ago he confided that he'd like to end his days running the library in a dusty little town in Matabeleland, somewhere like Tcholotsholo. It was not to be. Zimbabwe has turned out heartbreakingly different, and Basker's health did not permit it. Was there anyone who knew him who didn't like him? We shall all miss him a lot. I salute an old friend and comrade. I've known him almost 40 years and I'd like us to remember him as a kid in short khaki trousers in a British style school uniform with a passionate hatred of injustice, rather like myself, a passion which inspired his life. Wiert Wiertsema - 22 July 2005 Just two months ago I met Basker in the Vondelpark. His health was not as he wished, but he was cheerful as always. It is with sadness that I heard the news of his heart finally failing him in the same lovely park. I will remember his cheerfulness, optimism and commitment to development and justice in Africa, driven by Africans. It was a privilege to work with Basker on a number of occasions, lastly in organising the 2004 meeting on Globalisation and Africa in Brussels. May his soul rest in peace. Reginald Nalugala - 22 July 2005 My tributes to this dear man who talked about Africa like drinking cool waters froma coconut tree. When we met him at the TNI in 2001, as a student at ISS, I was inspired by his genuine commitment to social justice. We talked on a range of things. From the Question why everyone thinks Africa is poor yet they have tonnes of minerals: uranium, gold, diamonds, oil, natural resources - all being harvested by the so-called "foriegn investors". He wondered why only $60 billions go to Africa in the nakme of AID while Africa donates over $300 billion to the west in trade. What a man ! Oom Shanti, Oom Shanti Paul Mbikayi - 22 July 2005 Un frère sans nom, un frère. Simba le grand lion se repose Tôt ce matin, un ami est parti Il marche devant nous Sur ces pas, une joie intense! Nous l'avons appelé ami. Dès l'aube ce matin, un frère s'en est allé Il ne s'éloigne pas de nous Comme le grand baobab dans la grande cours Il plante sa sagesse dans nos cœur! Nous l'avons appelé frère. Les oiseaux n'avaient pas encore commencé à chanter Les criquets ne crissaient point encore La forêt, la savane et le désert ne s'étaient pas encore révelé à nous Le lion nous avait déjà quitté! Ses pas mènent à la rivière Nous le suivrons car nous l'avons appelé aîné. Simba se repose. Geen tranen geen geschreeuw, zegt de moeder Wel gezongen en gedanst, zegt de vader Want deze zoon van Afrika Hebben we vriend, en broer, en "mzé", the old man, genoemd! Akuna matata, Simba ana djipumzika... Pour un frère dont le nom se confond facilement avec bonté, Paul Mbikayi, Amsterdam Fisseha-Tsion Menghistu - 22 July 2005 I am deeply shocked to learn the death of my very good friend Basker Vashee whom I knew for more than 25 years. He was not one of those who are playing games with the heart breaking state of African problems. He was in deed one of the finest, dignified, gentle and warm members of Africans in Diaspora always ready and willing to help the cause of Africa and not only his beloved Zimbabwe. For those of who feel committed for the cause of Africa and struggling for a better and fairer world, we have in deed lost one of our most dedicated, warm and selfless African/international scholars and activists. We have in deed many lessons to learn from his tragic death and his life time struggle. Today it is his, tomorrow it is our turn. Let his soul rest in peace and glory! Alessandra Galié and Bernhard Hack - 22 July 2005 What I learned form Basker is that you have to be serious about your politics and that standing up for what you believe is right, can cost you a limb, land you in prison and send you to exile. What I remember about Basker is that I always knew when he was in the house because you could always hear him shaking with laughter. So I also learned from Basker that it's no good politics if you can't really laugh about it. Zlatan Peric - 22 July 2005 For somebody I was just meeting briefly on the hallways of the TNI building, I was always wondering why it was so pleasurable to see this guy, and I guess it's because of everything written on this page about him, that he was so strongly radiating. Antonio Carmona Báez - 22 July 2005 It is with deep sadness that I have come to learn about the death of our friend Basker Vashee. His presence at the office was a source of inspiration for me during my time at TNI. Bakser was a wonderful colleague. His knowledge and sense of history were exemplary for activists in the North as well as in the South. Basker was a tremendous Marxist, a wonderful orator and an excellent human being with a good sense of humour. He was always willing to engage in debate, and never lowered his voice in the face of injustice. With a smile he once told me: "Solidarity can only happen among equals; otherwise it is charity, not solidarity". Here in Puerto Rico, I will remember your African spirit of struggle and make it my own. Tommy Reifer - 22 July 2005 So much to say about Basker. Some years ago, when working for Focus on the Global South, I had the opportunity to visit Amsterdam and meet more of the TNI family, and that was when I first met Basker. As it turns out, Basker and my teacher, colleague and friend, Giovanni Arrighi, shared a jail cell together in Zimbabwe when it was then named Rhodesia after that master empire builder Cecil Rhodes. As it turned out Giovanni was deported from the country, for handing out leaflets Basker told me, while Basker stayed in jail for a long period; and later I guess they were housemates in Italy. What a small world. Interestingly enough, my own research on the origins of what I call the National Security State Corporate Complex in the U.S. led me to the study of Southern Africa, but that is a story for another time. When I was fortunate enough to be in Amsterdam and saw Basker this last May 2005, we had an opportunity to talk, particularly about the U.S. practice of extraordinary rendition (i.e., kidnapping), where CIA operatives capture persons, in violation of international law and due process, and send them off to a global network of U.S. secret prisons, as well as to foreign countries, with torture tactics common in both. These practices, which have included people being kidnapped in Europe, has not gotten near enough the attention it has deserved, and as we looked to the future of Europe and the global system, there was the pressing question of how to stop such practices. Basker was very concerned to follow up on this, along with many other questions, as we move towards a more peaceful and socially just world. I promise to continue these efforts, and not let your passing slow moving forward with this. I was honored to call you a friend Basker. Your memory and vision will live on in the profound fellowship of all those who knew you, and of your memory, as we rededicate ourselves to the struggle. Miguel Teubal - 22 July 2005 I am tremendously sad to know of the passing away of Basker Vassee. He was one of the first persons I met at the Paulus Potterstraat community when I was first invited to TNI in the late 1980s. Always very warm and friendly I felt that we interacted on the same wave length. I remember that he was surprised to know when I first met him that the University of Buenos Aires had about 200,000 students. Thereafter he always was to me an important referent of TNI and of what was occurring in Africa. He surely will be missed. Roger Burbach He was indeed a tremedously vibrant spirit. Fe Jusay and Nonoi Hacbang - 21 July 2005 With Basker’s passing away, we have lost a friend, a companion, and a great fighter. For several years now, we shared the same building and had many moments of personal encounter with Basker going up or down the stairs of Paulus Potterstraat. The spirit of his struggles embraced not only the people of Zimbabwe and Africa but the whole of humanity itself. Typical of Basker, he was with us migrants and refugees to share a significant moment of migrant struggles and histories on the occasion we celebrated the ratification of the UN Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families on July 1, 2003. After speaking eloquently on the shrinking political space for migrants and refugees globally and in Europe, particularly after September 11, he walked with us to the Museumplein where we launched 22 balloons symbolizing those countries which had ratified the Convention. Farewell Basker! this great spirit of yours will always inspire us and linger with us in our happy memories. On behalf of Filipino Migrant Workers Fe Jusay Nonoi Hacbang Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers (CFMW) Amsterdam Dick Fopma - 21 July 2005 Some years ago Basker Vashee was guest of a working group of the Evert Vermeer Stichting in Haarlem. He brought an interesting and inspiring lecture on the situation in Zimbabwe. On the way back to the station he didn't feel well. An ambulance brought him in the Johannes de Deo hospital, where I did visit him twice in the following days. He was quite optimistic and cheerful. It is sad that at the end, after some more years, his heart finally let him down. I will remember him as an inspiring man as well as a man who could see the bright things in life! Margie Bernard - 21 July 2005 Basker was a person that once met is never forgotten. We met in 1977 when I joined IPS to administer the Government Accountability Project's first conference on "Whistleblowing in National Security Agencies". Basker was very supportive of our efforts knowing firsthand the illegal and immoral activities of such agencies. He was a both an extremely serious person who was determined to right the wrongs in his native land and elsewhere in Africa but he was also a very fun-loving, energetic young man who was determined to enjoy life to the full. His great sense of humor and infectious laugh made him a delight to spend time with - it was a delight to be in his company. Bon Voyage Basker. Nutan Naik - 21 July 2005 Bhaskerbhai - more than an elder brother to the Naik brothers. Every visit to Zimbabwe got him closer to our family. On his last visit Bhaskerbhai mentioned to retire in Zimbabwe. He had more reasons to do so, but God had other plans for him. Never gave him an opportunity. Bhaskerbhai - so intelligent, educated and respected globally yet so humble, so kind, understanding and gentle. A very rare combination. Another sad loss for my family. Sameet (11) and Pranay (8) - my nephews - remember him for the evening walks and races under the Zimbabwean sunset. How much he admired Zimbabwean sunrise and the sunset. I will never forget how he consoled me when I lost my children. Will be sadly missed by all of us. And though his heart let him down, he has made a special place on our hearts - forever. I thank TNI for taking care of Bhaskerbhai till the end. I know now that he did have a family away from family. May his soul rest in peace. Jeroen Freriks - 21 July 2005 What a sad news. I met Basker for the first time only a few months ago. Despite his illness, I will remember him as a warm and a cheerful person, who was always willing to have a chat with you about anything. Tamara Weiss - 21 July 2005 Basker’s ability to soar through life with unconditional love and passion during the hardest of times was a lesson for us all. I have never known anyone as remarkable or kind and doubt that I ever will. His spirit shines! Daphne Wysham - 21 July 2005 He was a wonderful, warm, passionate, humble human being. Frans Bouwen - 21 July 2005 It is with deep regret and sadness that we came to know about the sudden death of Basker Vashee. On behalf of the Foundation "The Hague Process on Refugees and Migration" - with its advisory council called "the Club of The Hague on Refugees and Migration" - we sincerely express our condolences to you and through you to the family and friends of Basker. Basker played a significant and constructive role in The Hague Process and stimulated many in truly advancing the refugee and migration agenda. He became a real friend within our international network. We shall remember him with respect and in great dignity. Dineke Deelman - 21 July 2005 I met Basker at the SOMO office where I worked that time, when it was still at the Paulus Potterstraat in Amsterdam, below the TNI office. My going to Zimbabwe and taking the country to heart deepened our contact and I was happy to hear his view on what could be a good economic alternative for the African countries, because I saw my own ideas reflected in his and supported with better arguments and more knowledge. I was waiting for his book on Zimbabwe and Mugabe. I recognise the inspiration, the warmth, the warrior spirit and his sense of humour you describe. I will miss him. It was always good to come across him, it is hard to realise that this is no longer possible. I deeply wished him a stronger health to be able to go back to Zimbabwe again, I am sorry this was not given for him. It would have been fun to meet him there. Very happy that I have met him in this life; a good source of inspiration. I just wished that I spent more time with him. Travel safely Basker, with love. Laurian Zwart - 21 July 2005 Almost ten years ago I left the TNI family. Basker stayed. Three months ago the TNI family left its native home at the Paulus Potterstraat. Basker stayed. Thank all you people at De Wittenstraat for taking such good care of him, then and especially this week. Praful Bidwai - 21 July 2005 I'll miss Basker and his amazingly cheerful temperament: he could really make you laugh! Felix Awunou - 21 July 2005 In the name of democracy in Afrika, I am sending my strong condoleances to TNI and to the family of our regreted Basker Vashee. Guy Thornton - 21 July 2005 I've know Basker for well over 35 years, since, back in the UK, we where both involved with NCCL (the National Council for Civil Liberties as it was then, now Liberty) and on the national executive. We kept coming across each other in various other action groups as well but lost contact for a time when I moved to Denmark. However one Christmas we both bumped into each other in BookMarx in Finsbury Park to discover we where both living in Amsterdam, me having moved down from Denmark and Basker moved over to run the TNI office. We all know Basker had his health problems but I'm sure we also though that he seemed to improving and things where looking up so this news, I'm sure, comes as a great shock to many of us. He was a tireless campaigner, didn't let his health or anything get in the way of that, and I'm sure we thought he would carry on being so. We shall miss him. Joost Divendal - 21 July 2005 Working in De Populier and De Balie n Amsterdam, 25 years ago, we organized many inspiring meetings together with Basker and his fellows (Jan Joost, Hanneke, others), in an open atmosphere. Even when a wellknown politician drunk too much or a qualified journalist was jumping to conclusions, people were present with an open mind. Very special were meetings under his direction with Olov Palme, Ariel Dorfman, Salman Rushdie (before the fatwa), i.a. - the TNI was a 'window to the world' and meant a lot for building bridges between Africa, Chile, Washington, Amsterdam. Hospitality was the key-word. Basker, more than a master of ceremony, had a great heart, too great sometimes for the narrow-minded world. Our personal contacts dated from the past, but once in a while we met each other, in my work as a journalist, or in a train, a street, a park - joking, talking, waving. I remember his big smile. His remembrance will be a blessing. Chudi Ukpabi - 21 July 2005 His death is a great loss to us all. I will remember him as a dear friend, a person of high integrity, a trully devoted and committed African and Global Citizen. In my last discussion with Basker he was a man at peace with himself. We will miss him greatly. And I thank TNI for taking good care of Basker. Miriam Elderhorst - 21 July 2005 Basker, when I told you that I was going to visit Zimbabwe, you immediately gave me the contact details of your nephew in Zimbabwe where they gave us, "Basker's friends!", a hearty welcome. It is so sad to realise that you won't have the opportunity any more to return to Zimbabwe. When thinking of you "The in-between World" as described by Vassanji springs up in my mind. Ashok Desai - 21 July 2005 Bhasker was my first cousin. He visited me about a year and half ago. I can never imagine his sudden exit. In 2001 I took him to his native place and his mother's place in India. He was a great soul, intelligent, articulate and a person of the poor and oppressed people. He always told he wanted to do a lot but he cannot. We shared certain social, political and moral values. My other cousin Dr. Raju Desai in Detroit is also a good admirer of Bhasker. Due to poor health I am not in a condition to come to Amsterdam. I would say good people God wants so he taketh away. My dear Bhasker, May your soul rest in peace and you will get with God what you could not get here. Love, adieu, yours in sadness. Alessandra Galié - 21 July 2005 I have been trying to find the right words to be close to you all... I'm very sorry for not being there to give Basker a final good-bye and can't believe the one I gave him a month ago was the final one. Wilf Mbanga - 21 July 2005 I first met Basker at the University of Rhodesia in 1967 when he was one of the few students of Indian origin who was seriously into politics - he was heavily opposed to Ian Smith - but was a supporter of Joshua Nkomo's Zapu. I lost contact with him for more than 30 years until I met him last year in Amsterdam at the Amnesty International event. Amazing!! Annelies Borsboom - 21 July 2005 With his unique personality, Basker always was a warm friend and teacher, and a source of inspiration. Minka Nijhuis - 21 July 2005 It was always a pleasure to meet at TNI or De Balie and listen to his views and ideas. He was a fine and remarkable man. He will be missed. Peter and Cora Weiss - 21 July 2005 Basker was a sweet and tender man. He had more and better reason to be angry than most of us, not only for what "they" did to him in Zimbabwe's freedom struggle, but for what they did to, and failed to do for, his beloved Africa and for "the wretched of the earth" on all the continents. Yet his answer to the tricks and nastiness of the colonizers and neocolonizers was not to rant, but to teach, not to collect injustice, but to promote justice. While others focused on analyzing why things did not work, he spent much of his later years looking for examples of what worked. We thank his doctors for their care and dedication and the Dutch health system for making it possible. He was our friend, our inspiration, our leader, our partner. We miss him terribly. Raju Desai - 21 July 2005 I and my relatives in US & Canada were deeply saddened to learn the sad news about Bhaskerbhai's sudden demise. Though Bhaskerbhai was my first cousin brother we grew up in diffferent parts of the world and did not meet each other till approximately six years ago. Our first meeting was at the Schipol Airport in Amsterdam, while I was travelling to India with my parents. He came to the Airport to meet my mother ( his mother's sister) one of the few elderly relatives he knew of. We spent a few hours together at the airport lounge. Following this he did visit us in Troy, Michigan,USA. He spent a week with us and we had a good time discussing and learning about each others past. He met most of our relatives during that trip. Following this I helped him plan a trip to India. He was very happy to meet his relatives and friends in India. My friend Nootan Bhat arranged for his stay in Bombay and Ashokbhai our cousin from Canada made him comfortable during his stay in Surat as he was in India at the time. I would have liked to attend his Funeral Service but unfortunately my partner is away in Egypt and I have no choice but to stay put and take care of my patients in Detroit. Knowing Bhaskerbhai for whatever little time I had come in contact with him, I know he would have wanted me to attend to my patients. I my family and relatives pray for Bhaskerbhai's Soul to Rest In Peace. Amira Armenta - 21 July 2005 I can't believe it. I still can see him, sitting on that chair at the entrance of TNI office, last Thursday, the day before I went on holidays, talking about the weather, this Dutch bad weather... After almost a week, I finally have access to Internet, and you can not imagine my surprise and deep sadness, have to read about this. I really regret I´m not there to be with you all guys. Un fuerte abrazo for all TNI, fellows and friends, and also for you dear Basker. Hanneke van Eldik Thieme and Joel Rocamora - 21 July 2005 A number of friends have died recently, none closer, more painful than Basker's passing. Basker was a friend for both Hanneke and me at the start of our life together, in Amsterdam, at his old flat by the Vondel Park, in all the places throughout the world where we brought our hearts in solidarity with people and their struggles. We might say, with poetic license, that Basker's heart gave up, got used up from all the loving that he put his heart to all his life. Sadder still that the politics that Basker gave his life to also broke his heart. The struggle for the liberation of Zimbabwe was the defining act of Basker's life. The precious few times that we managed to see Basker the ten or so years since we moved to the Philippines, we could feel Basker's heart being wounded, cut up piece by piece by Mugabe, the very person who led the struggle Basker gave his life to. What made it worst is that Basker never felt his health would make it possible for him to go home to contribute to the new struggle for liberation in Zimbabwe. Please continue... Hanneke van Eldik Thieme - 21 July 2005 The last time I saw Basker was at the funeral of my father in Delft in January of this year. He joined us together with my other friends from TNI - never mind that it was more than 13 years ago that I had moved to the Philippines. That was Basker. Still my friend. Basker was the one who recruited me into TNI. This must have been around 1977 or so, when I was a student at the University of Amsterdam. Between then and when Joel and I left for Manila in 1992, we must have painted the old TNI building at least three times - Basker (who was director of TNI at the time), me and the other staff (Judy Weiss among them). Please continue... Carmen Diana Deere - 21 July 2005 This is such sad news. I last saw Basker in February in Amsterdam and he was so hopeful that, after his long hospitalization last year, he had finally turned the corner. Our dinner was the first time he had been out at night in many months and he was quite weak physically, but strong of mind and spirit. He was really looking forward to getting back to work on his book on Mugabe. I'm wondering whether any part of his ms. is publishable as it is or if someone can finish it for him. I think he would have wanted that. It's going to be hard for me to return to Amsterdam without Basker there. Even though years might go by between our dinners, they were one of the reasons I would always accept invitations to The Netherlands. Our friendship goes back to when he was a visiting professor at Hampshire College and UMass, and the transition to socialism in the Third World was a real possibility. I will always treasure our conversations and debates, and the ideals and hopes that we shared. Air Marshal PK Desai (Retd) - 21 July 2005 An Indian by origin, struggled for freedom of Zimbabwe – the country of his residence, exiled after imprisonment, settled and loved in Amsterdam! Such an inspiring life. May God rest the soul of this true transworld man in peace and create many more Bhaskers to achieve true integration and globalization of thoughts in this world dominated by greed and commercialization. Daniel Chavez - 21 July 2005 Basker was a great guy, and that is a consensus within and outside the institute. Helen Hopps - 20 July 2005 Basker was a dear man. I would like to be with everyone on Friday but that is impossible. It is sad that there is no one here to cry with, no one who knew Basker and enjoyed his talents, his rare company, and lovely soul. Anne Koch - 20 July 2005 I just wanted to tell you how terribly sad I am. I hadn't seen him for ages but can remember long hours talking to him at the TNI and I was always very fond of him. I am glad he died quickly but he was so young... really terrible. Trin Yarborough - 20 July 2005 Although I haven't seen Basker for four or five years, I thought of him often and remember his intelligence and insights - but mostly his kindness and his sense of fun. He was so easy to talk with, and so unique. How sad to think I will never have the chance to see him again. Daniel Weiss - 20 July 2005 It has been years since I last saw Basker, but his smile and gentle spirit will stay with me always. His life will remain a guidepost in mine. Judy Weiss - 20 July 2005 I loved listening to Basker’s endless and endlessly entertaining stories of life as a young revolutionary in Zimbabwe - how he would drive like a maniac from village to village, delivering dried fish and ZAPU fliers. I can still hear the glee in his voice and his joyous laugh as he would tell tales of his close calls and mishaps. Basker, my heart is heavy, my tears flowing. I am forever grateful for your kind and gentle manner, generosity, passionate spirit and friendship. Pedro Vilanova - 20 July 2005 This is a sad day. I have known Basker since 1974, we've been friends, and I have no words, in this moment. Time for memories and grievance. After Eqbal, who died some years ago, this is a second very painful moment. Here we are, here we stand, no matter what. Pramila Desai - 20 July 2005 My name is Pramila, and Basker was my Late Husband Dinkers elder brother. It was sad and a sudden shock, to hear of his demise. He was the last link of the Vashee family that I was married in, and it's really sad that the last link has also departed from this earth. He was a great person himself, although I did not know him much, but heard a great deal from my Late Husband about him. I am sorry I will not be able to attend his funeral, but my prayers for a peacefull transgation of his soul, and May his soul rest in Peace and Grace of the Divine. Paul Staal - 20 July 2005 Farewell, my friend Basker, after these years of struggle with your health and the many more years you worked so intensely and inspiringly for your beloved country and for the true liberation of Southern Africa. "Freedom is more than liberation". May Zimbawe find the peace, the development and the freedom it did not get under its government and its "leader", the real freedom its people merit and never got, nor under the British, nor under Smith nor under its sad successor. In the firm believe I shared with you that the winds of change will touch Zimbabwe too: adieu my dear Basker, you did well. Domenica Ghidei Biidu - 20 July 2005 It is a very big shock to be confronted with the loss of a good friend. Sunday a week ago I met him in the Vondelpark while I was there playing with the children, he joined us and we had a very pleasant and lengthy conversation about all the success and achievements of the African diaspora in the Netherlands. I didn't realise that that was his personal goodbye. In him we lost a diplomat, a wise advisor, an gifted analyst and above all a faithful and committed friend with a special sense of humour. May your soul rest in peace dear Basker Vashee. Elena Gerebizza - 20 July 2005 I write these few lines with my heart broken. I have met Basker in Amsterdam and he has been my inspiration since then. He taught me much about life, commitment and dedication to the others. His immense love for all African people and his inner joy will stay with me forever. Jan Cartier - TIE Netherlands - 20 July 2005 Around the end of 1998, when our organisation was going through a difficult period and a new start needed to be made, we approached Basker whether he would support us in a capacity as board member. Although his condition was not that good then already and he had lots of other commitments, he immediately said yes, because he found that the work of TIE in supporting and bringing together trade union activists struggling in different parts of the world was important and should continue. Please continue... Marcos Arruda - 20 July 2005 The essential is to expect nothing from any messiah, be it a person, a political party or a State. The essential is to put your expectation on yourself, a social individual dedicated to the struggle for your emancipation and that of the individuals and collectives who live on their labor, not on capital. Please continue... Achin and Pamela Vanaik - 20 July 2005 It is with great shock and sadness that I heard the news of Basker's death. I knew he was quite ill but not that he could collapse at any time. I like so many others could not fail to be charmed by him - he had this ability to generate real affection from people around him. TNI will just not be the same without his presence. I for one used to draw on his long familiarity with TNI in our discussions; and of all the fellows he represented the longest living continuity with the institution from virtual beginning till today. Walden Bello - 20 July 2005 TNI won't be the same without him. A true stalwart. James Early - 20 July 2005 I share in the sadness of Basker's death. My few direct conversations with him always revealed a thoughtful human being. Peter Ras - Burma Centre Netherlands - 20 July 2005 We were all shocked yesterday by this sad news. We always felt Basker was a very kind and nice person, when we met him in the office. John Rose - 19 July 2005 Basker was one of my closest friends when we were students together at the London School of Economics in the turbulent late 1960's. We remained close throughout the 1970's - I worked with him at Counter Information Services in London - very much a forerunner of the TNI. After he moved to Amsterdam we saw each other regularly throughout the 1980s and 1990s, perhaps two or three times a year. Basker really was the spark that started the student revolution at the LSE, which eventually would spread to campuses across the country. He had been on the campus at the University of Salisbury in the illegal state of White Rhodesia when Walter Adams, the then Director had allowed police on to campus to hunt for black activists. Please continue... Susan George - 19 July 2005 Oh my dear friends, We have just lost not only a remarkable, warm and lovable person but a huge chapter of TNI's history. Basker was there from the outset, he was our very own voice of the struggles of colonized peoples and our constant link to Africa. Dan Smith - 19 July 2005 What sad news. Basker was such a great guy apart from all his other contributions to knowledge, understanding and hope. Beatriz Martinez - 19 July 2005 Basker was definitely a lovely guy; always a smile ready. I always remember the first time I met him. It was at De Balie and he was wearing sun glasses and complaining about a terrible headache, something which I could not match with his big smile and his naughty eyes. And then he had a bag full of anecdotes and I was stuck to my chair for hours. Heidi, Adam, Tamra, Christina & Jessica - Carbon Trade Watch - 19 July 2005 We're so sad to hear about Basker. We saw him when we came last time to the office and he was doing so much better and seemed in really good spirits. He was such a lovely man and a great support and always had a huge smile and warm greetings for us. We'll miss him at TNI. Pauline Tiffen - 19 July 2005 Basker was Basker. Basker was a brick (in the metaphorical sense). You could build, break windows and rely on Basker as a friend and comrade. Good bye. TNI Webteam For you Basker