By John Rose and SabSagall
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Basker Vashee

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Basker Vashee, who has died of heart disease aged 61, was a member of the International Socialists (forerunner of the Socialist Workers Party) in the late 1960s.
Issue 1962
Basker Vashee
Basker Vashee

Basker Vashee, who has died of heart disease aged 61, was a member of the International Socialists (forerunner of the Socialist Workers Party) in the late 1960s.

A Zimbabwean Asian, he joined the struggle against the illegal, white colonial regime of what was then known as Rhodesia as a teenager and spent a year in prison before being deported to Britain in 1965.

At the London School of Economics (LSE), Basker was the spark that ignited the student revolution, a conflict that eventually spread to campuses across Britain.

He had been a student at the University of Salisbury in Rhodesia when Walter Adams, the then director of the university, had allowed police on to the campus to hunt for black activists.

To his horror, Basker heard that the LSE were to appoint Adams as director.

He tipped off the student activists and within months the LSE and other universities were experiencing their first ever militant sit-ins.

Enormously talented, Basker cast his elan over the would-be student revolutionaries.

Few people knew more about Africa or the Third World in general than Basker.

In 1972 he was invited to lead a new radical research organisation — Counter-Information Services.

This organisaion produced a series of penetrating reports on multinationals and their destructive impact on the world.

Prestigious

The success of the organisation led to his appointment in 1977 as director of the prestigious Transnational Institute in Amsterdam, “a world-wide fellowship of scholar-activists”.

He held this post for ten years.

In that time, he established a reputation as one of Europe’s leading left wing African intellectuals.

But his real love was Zimbabwe.

In 1980, he was elated when independence finally came, even though his own party, the Zimbabwe African People’s Union, led by Joshua Nkomo, lost out in the jockeying for power to Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union.

It was not long before disappointment set in.

The Mugabe government capitulated rapidly to Western multinationals and post-colonial Zimbabwe fell under the yoke of an increasingly authoritarian regime.

To the end, Basker remained committed to the ideals that fired our imagination in the 1960s.

These ideals were a world without war, poverty, racism and oppression, and a world based on human solidarity.

His death leaves a gaping hole in many lives.

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