Ali Mazrui, 81, a Kenyan-born political scientist who was one of Africa's leading public intellectuals and whose nine-part 1986 television documentary,

The Africans

, was praised in some corners but criticized in the United States as a diatribe against the West, died Oct. 12 at his home in Vestal, N.Y.

His death was announced by Binghamton University, the State University of New York, where he was a faculty member. The cause was not disclosed. Mr. Mazrui, the scion of a prominent Islamic family in Kenya, had been one of the foremost scholars of African politics and society since the 1960s. He published more than 30 books and was a longtime commentator on African affairs.

After teaching in Uganda for 10 years, Mr. Mazrui publicly clashed with strongman Idi Amin and left the country in 1973. - Washington Post