The 8th of June 2019 marked Africa University’s 25th graduation ceremony where 526 students from 22 African nations graduated from various disciplines in the departments of Business, Computer, Agricultural, Health and Social Sciences respectively alongside those from Theology, Humanities, Education and the Institute of Peace, Leadership and Governance. Of the 526, 54.6 percent were female which speaks to the university’s commitment to ensuring gender parity and equal access to opportunity, an objective that is in line with those set forth in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the development agenda of regional and continental bodies such as the African Union. The Guest of Honour and key note speaker of this year’s graduation ceremony was Reverend Greg Bergquist who is the Acting General Secretary of the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry who has served in the church in a sterling career spanning over 34 years.
Professor. Munashe Furusa the Africa University Vice Chancellor welcomed parents, guardians and sponsors of the graduands and expressed his admiration for the graduating class’ focus and resolve to attain their respective qualifications overcoming many obstacles along the way. Summing up the 2018/19 academic year, he said,
“This academic year has been an incredible year for us as we continue to meet our targets and reach new milestones. We set for ourselves the glorious task of building a world class university committed to investing in Africa’s future through the training of ethically and morally grounded, adaptive and transformative leaders. We told ourselves that our university has to provide a high quality student experience, excellent programmes and high impact teaching and learning to achieve student success…. We therefore begun a protracted process to transform our university into a research – intensive institution committed to producing new knowledge that supports technological progress on our continent.”
Professor Furusa went on to thank the numerous partners and stakeholders that have supported the university tirelessly throughout the year and who continue to do so outlining the milestones that the institution reached that included the completion of the university’s swimming pool (which forms the first phase in a larger plan for a sports complex), the construction of a women’s hostel to increase on campus accommodation as well as improve the student experience as well as a student union building that will host student functions and be a hub of student centred activities.
Reverend Greg Bergquist delivered a rousing speech to the graduands urging them to seek out opportunity, better themselves and the community. He said,
“Regardless of the careers we will begin or, for some of us, the professions we will continue, we each have a choice to make: Do we continue to live in our current configurations of life, into our standard zones of existence, into the way things have always been, … or will we take that small, but profound step into the “adjacent possible,” into the halo of possibility and promise that is always right beside us?”
Challenging the graduating class further and encouraging thorough introspection in every action that may create or diminish opportunity, Rev. Bergquist went on to share rare nuggets of invaluable wisdom saying,
“According to an ancient proverb, each word we utter should have to pass through three gates before we say it. At the first gate, the gatekeeper asks, “Is it true?” At the second gate: “Is it necessary?” And at the third gate: “Is it kind?” A wise series of questions, … that moves us into the adjacent possible, the halo of possibility and promise that is always right beside us!”
Rev. Bergquists’ address was received with great enthusiasm and gratitude by those in attendance especially for the time that the Guest of Honour took to commemorate the special day with the graduands and the university.
One of the many highlights of the day was the award of an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters to Dr. Kenjiro Yamada one of the persons after whom the Africa University Jokomo/Yamada is named. Dr. Yamada was accompanied by his wife Mrs, Aki Ueda who looked on as Dr. Yamada was awarded for his impeccable commitment to Africa University and the advancement of the continent.