In Memoriam Dr Bernard Berendsen (1942-2021)

The African Studies Centre Leiden is sad to announce that Dr Bernard Berendsen died on 11 February 2021. Bernard has been very important to the African Studies Centre Leiden, for a very long time.

Bernard was an economist who graduated with a PhD in international trade at Erasmus University Rotterdam (‘Regional models of trade and development’, 1978). He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where, among many functions, he was Head of the Africa Desk and Ambassador for the Netherlands in Tanzania. During a period that was turbulent for the African Studies Centre in the 1990s he was a member of its Advisory Council, in which he represented the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was crucial for the changes necessary in the Centre’s management. This resulted in Gerti Hesseling becoming the new director under a Curatorium that was more at a distance from the Centre than the previous Board.  

In the early 2010s Bernard chaired the Tracking Development’s project board (a project funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in which KITLV and ASCL worked together) and helped to face its many challenges. He also became one of the editors of the African Dynamics volume that was one of the results of the project (‘Asian Tigers, African Lions) and that won a Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award.

In 2012 Bernard again became a member of the ASC’s Curatorium and in that role supported the integration of the African Studies Centre in Leiden University in 2016. He became the Chair of the new Advisory Board of the African Studies Centre Foundation, responsible for stimulating the societal linkages of the Centre and for its library treasures. He performed that role until 2019.

The African Studies Centre will remember Bernard’s commitment, his wise advice, his kindness, and his foresight. Without Bernard’s continuous involvement the Centre would have been different. We wish Bernard’s wife Monique and his children, other family and friends strength and many good memories.