Issa Shivji is one of the great public intellectuals of postcolonial Africa. He was a law student (1967-1970) at the University of Dar es Salaam, growing up amidst distinguished leftist scholars such as sociologists Giovanni Arrighi, Immanuel Wallerstein and John Saul. These scholars came from all over the world, attracted to the formative intellectual ferment at the university.
Even as a precocious student, Shivji began to challenge the socialist policies of the Ujamaa regime of Julius Nyerere, the first President of Tanzania. During this early period he wrote such celebrated and widely-debated works as The Silent Class Struggle that drew attention to the social forces that were politically (un)represented in the new postcolonies of Africa.
After receiving degrees from the London School of Economics and the University of Dar es Salaam, he took up a post in the Faculty of Law which he never left until retiring in 2006. During that time he became a public figure devoted to land reform and constitutional law.