Mamdani who is Herbert Lehman professor of government at Colombia University in the United State of America, director of its Institute of African Studies and renowned author, received the honorary doctorate during the University’s second graduation series in May 2010.
In his acceptance speech, Mamdani explored the relationship between ‘two great liberal objectives, freedom of speech and civil peace’. Zapiro’s controversial cartoon featuring the Prophet Mohamed, published in South Africa’s Mail & Guardian, Mamdani argues, has misread the real challenges we face today: The intellectual challenge of distinguishing between ‘two strands in the history of free speech – blasphemy and bigotry’, and the political challenge of building ‘a local and global coalition against all forms of bigotry’. We need to learn ‘how not to respond to a changing world with fear and anxiety, masked with arrogance, but rather to try a little humility so as to understand,’ Mamdani writes.
Click here to read the speech by Mahmood Mamdani