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University community mourns death of lecturer David Mburu

Friday, November 04, 2016

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas is mourning the death of a faculty member from the Department of African and African-American Studies and the Kansas African Studies Center.

Lecturer David Mburu died Oct. 30 in Kansas City, Kansas.

“I join those who are mourning the death of David Mburu, who brought years of teaching experience from Kenya to our students at KU,” said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. “On behalf of the entire university community, I extend my deepest condolences to his family and friends and to those who knew him at KU.”

Mburu taught for many years in Kenya before joining KU, where as a full-time lecturer he taught courses in Kiswahili — one the seven languages the department offers — as well as Popular Culture in East Africa.

Peter Ojiambo, associate professor and coordinator of African languages, called Mburu a great pillar to the Kiswahili program.

“For the three and half years he had been with us he enabled our Kiswahili program to soar in curriculum, teaching resources and assessment,” Ojiambo said. “He was a man of great character, a talented intellectual, a gifted and dedicated teacher and a wonderful colleague who brought enormous experience and excellence to our language program. David was greatly loved by his students. He will be greatly missed by the department and our Kiswahili students.”

His research centered on the Kiswahili language, popular culture in East Africa, gender issues in education, gender and education in Africa, curriculum and instruction, and comparative education.

“David Mburu was a colleague of extraordinary warmth, humility, humor and intellect,” said Clarence Lang, chair of the Department of African and African-American Studies. “He is greatly missed by all of us in and around the department who had the good fortune of getting to know him."

Mackenzie Jones, assistant director of the African Studies Center, said “As both his Kiswahili student and his colleague, I can personally attest that he was an excellent teacher who inspired his students and a tireless worker who went above and beyond to build our Kiswahili program and encourage and support our students.”

A visitation and memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at First Presbyterian Church, 2415 Clinton Parkway in Lawrence. Burial will be in Mburu’s home country of Kenya.

Expert instruction in Arabic, Kiswahili, and Wolof at the beginning and intermediate levels will be offered over eight weeks in June-July 2018.

Foreign Language & Area Studies Fellowships

The Kansas African Studies Center has received $140,000 in funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities to launch public discussions, community programming, and the creation of educational resources in local communities to discuss the challenges and opportunities surrounding recent demographic changes in the region. Visit to learn more. 

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