Africa University on the 17th of October 2020 graduated 546 students from 23 African nations namely Angola, Burundi, Botswana, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Cameroon, Ghana, DRC, Ethiopia, Malawi, Kenya, Namibia, Liberia, Rwanda, Mozambique, South Africa, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome Principe, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The sheer diversity of the graduating class speaks to the breadth of continental representation that the university enjoys as well as the reach and impact of the institution. With over 13, 300 viewers tuning in from across Africa on the university’s Facebook and YouTube pages, the ceremony was a celebration of academic excellence as the graduates received various degrees, distinctions and awards.
The proceedings opened with the posthumous installation of the 4th Chancellor of Africa University Bishop John K. Yambasu who passed on the 16th of August 2020. The honor was received by the Yambasu family represented by Mrs. Millicent Yanbasu who highlighted Bishop Yambasu’s dedication to Africa University. She went on to speak of the love that Bishop Yambasu had for the United Methodist Church and the people of Africa stating that he believed in the power of education to change lives and situations.
The graduates were treated to a number of messages from representatives of the church and government . AU Board Chairman Bishop Mande Muyombo encouraged the graduates to be courageous as they go forth to change the world. Honorable Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Professor , dr. Amon Murwira advised the graduates to use their education as a force for good . He highlighted the Education 5.0 agenda that seeks to elevate the role of universities from centers of teaching, learning and research to centers of innovation and enterprise development for the sustained economic development and prosperity of the African continent underpinned by heritage based assets.
Vice Chancellor Professor Munashe Furusa delivered a message of hope and optimism as he spoke to the adaptation processes necessary for the advancement of the university and the academic success of the graduating class and the AU student body as a whole. He said, “Today’s graduation provides an occasion for us to celebrate your hard won achievements. Your academic journey was not easy as you negotiated many challenges especially those posed by COVID- 19 that changed your way of learning and now your graduation. The university made a bold decision to move all of our activities and work online. We had to adapt quickly, decisively and strategically, driven by our desire to ensure that your education would not be disrupted. This moment would not have been possible without your support and the visionary leadership of our Board of Directors. We are grateful to our staff for their energy and responsiveness, constantly pushing you to perform at your best.”
He went on to outline the strategic drive of the university to integrate digital technologies into its systems and processes. “Through constant innovation and the use of the latest technologies, we are enhancing our brand and offering an engaging and challenging learning and teaching environment. We are making use of technologies that offer high impact teaching, learning, enterprise development and innovation. We are in the process of creating a virtual Counselling Lab, Space Airborne technology and Artificial Intelligence Lab, Environment and Agricultural Resources Lab , Intellectual Property Lab and a Radio and Broadcasting Studio.”
The Guest of Honor and Key Note Speaker Bishop Tracy Smith Malone of the East Ohio Conference opened her address by speaking to the standard of excellence and transformation that the university has managed to impart especially the role that the alumni have played in ensuring this mandate is met. She said, “You are a part of the Africa University story and success. As you prepare to return to your communities to continue to chase your dreams, remember who and whose you are. We are God’s handiwork, created to do good works. You will decide how your education, ministry, career and leadership journey will impact the continent of Africa. To be a graduate of Africa University is to be a change agent!”
Africa University successfully taught out its 2020 academic semester and became the first university in Zimbabwe to host online examinations for its over 2000 students. Being the first institution of higher learning in Zimbabwe to be accredited by national education regulatory body ZIMCHE to offer online programmes, the transition from traditional face to face learning to online platforms has been seamless with a student success rate of over 90%.
The graduating class of 2020 join the over 10 000 alumni of Africa University who have been shaping the development narrative in Africa as they live and serve on the continent.