Before the 1970s, there were very few academics who studied terrorism.
War, revolution, political violence, social movements and counterinsurgency were all topics of some note in the social sciences – but not terrorism.
Murdoch Professor of International Relations and Security Studies Samuel Makinda said his interest in this topic began in 1969.
“A vehicle in which my elder brother, then a member of the Kenyan police force, was travelling, was hit by a landmine planted by Somali rebels,” he said.
“My brother survived, but I, then in high school in Year 9, started wondering why African states fought each other over border disputes instead of uniting into one country.
“Thus, my interest in Pan-Africanism, with its twin goals of African liberation and unification, was awakened at the same time as my interest in security and terrorism.”
As his interest in the field grew, Professor Makinda realised that security was intimately connected with governance, development and agriculture in Africa.
“Security is the fulcrum around which most other activities revolve,” he said.
“Through experience, I came to believe that in Africa, there was no security, accountable governance, and sustainable development without the participation of governments, civil society and business.”
Over the last four decades, he has worked in academia, the media and public service.
“I have always endeavoured to reach out to ordinary members of the public mainly through the media and community organisations,” Professor Makinda said.
“My career started in Nairobi in the media when I worked as a journalist with The Weekly Review and later as an editor with the Daily Nation.”
As a recognised expert on counter terrorism and public policy, he has published five books and more than 100 book chapters and journal articles.
“My biggest achievement at Murdoch University in the past decade has been the establishment of the Security, Terrorism and Counterterrorism studies program, which I launched in 2005,” he said.
“It was the first undergraduate degree of its kind in Australia.”
For his “distinguished service rendered to the nation”, former Kenyan President, Mwai Kibaki, awarded him the medal of Elder of the Burning Spear (EBS), which is one of Kenya’s highest civilian honours.
In August 2012, the Celebration of African Australians Inc named him one of the top 100 most influential African Australians.
To add to his already long list of accolades, this month he was named the WA African Australian of the year in the Community Pillar category during Australia-Africa Week.
“It was such an honour to receive this award, presented to me by Citizenship and Multicultural Interests Minister Paul Papalia at the recent WA African Community Awards Gala,” he said.
“This honour rekindled in me the Pan-Africanism that had been planted by an act of terrorism in East Africa 50 years earlier.”
The award acknowledges Professor Makinda’s mentorship, business leadership and ongoing dedication to the African Australian and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities in WA.
The WA African Awards Gala, organised by the Organisation of African Communities in WA (OACWA), brings together African Australians and non-Africans every year to recognise, celebrate, and honour Africans who have impacted positively in the African Community.
On the same day, the Africa Research and Engagement Centre (AfREC) announced that its annual Africa Day public lecture, will be renamed to honour him from next year.
This lecture, which marks the anniversary of the creation of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in the 1960s, will be known as the ‘Annual AfREC Samuel M. Makinda Africa Day Public Lecture.’
“As one of AfREC’s ambitions is to provide a platform for academics, government officials, businesses and community organisations to address Africa-related matters, this lecture will embody most of what I have been advocating,” he said.
“Indeed, it is a perfect reward for my consistent pursuit of the Pan-African dream.”