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Photo courtesy of Africa University

Students Luzia Bandeira, Angel Tshindj Musaw, Rose Otshi and Betty Kayembe pose for a photo while waiting outside their hostel for the arrival of their friends for graduation rehearsal at Africa University. More than 450 students earned their undergraduate and graduate degrees in 2014.

A UMNS photo by Kathleen Barry

Angel Tshindj Musaw, a 2014 graduate of Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe smiles in her role as singer in the AU choir in this 2013 file photo. She is from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS.

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Photo courtesy of Africa University

Albart Wani is one of more than 450 students earning their degrees in 2014 from Africa University located in Mutare, Zimbabwe. Photo courtesy of Africa University.

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Photo courtesy of Africa University

Tafadzwa Beta is one of more than 450 students earning their degrees in 2014 from Africa University located in Mutare, Zimbabwe. Photo courtesy of Africa University.

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Photo courtesy of Africa University

Kenneth Thomas is one of more than 450 students earning their degrees in 2014 from Africa University located in Mutare, Zimbabwe. Photo courtesy of Africa University.

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Photo courtesy of Africa University

Gloria Alitubeera is one of more than 450 students earning their degrees in 2014 from Africa University located in Mutare, Zimbabwe. Photo courtesy of Africa University.

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2014 Africa University grads express thanks

By Sharai Muonwa
June 9, 2014 | MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS)

Following the June 7 graduation ceremony at Africa University, the narrative of this year’s graduates was one of gratitude and resolve.

Gloria Alitubeera, a Ugandan who earned a degree in business, spoke for many. “I am so happy and grateful to God,” she said. “I give thanks to everyone who helped me to make it. To those who granted me the scholarship that enabled me to study and get this degree, I dedicate it to you.”

More than 450 students earned undergraduate and graduate degrees this year. They are the products of the colleges of agriculture and natural resources, education, health sciences, humanities and social sciences, management and administration, theology; and the Institute of Peace, Leadership and Governance. The institute presented its largest group to date — awarding master’s degrees in intellectual property, peace and governance and public policy and governance to 82 graduates.

“I am ready to go out into the world and make a change,” said Angel Tshindj Musaw, a young woman from the Democratic Republic of Congo who trained in the college of education. “I have been taught servant leadership, and with that, I feel I am ready to be a leader anywhere.”

Theology graduate, Eva Mario Ndambi, is heading home to Angola to serve the church. “Africa University has helped me to believe in myself and my goals,” she said. “I came here knowing nothing at all about pastoral ministry, and now I can stand confidently before people and talk about my ministry.”

Albert Lukudu Wani, the recipient of a degree in environmental studies and sociology, feels a specific and urgent call on his life to make a positive difference in Africa’s youngest and very troubled nation — the Republic of South Sudan.

“I certainly wasn't thinking of anything other than myself when I came into Africa University in first year,” Wani said. “AU opened my eyes to the fact that there is a world out there that has problems. Africa has problems. The reality is that if we do not begin to try (to) fix these problems and create a better future, our children and our grandchildren will inherit our problems. I want to help to create a better tomorrow for the next generation.”

‘It taught me to appreciate diversity’

As is quickly becoming the tradition of Africa University, female students earned top honors and awards across the board. Zimbabweans Tafadzwa Beta, Alisandra Moyo and Everjoy Machawira achieved cumulative grade point averages above 3.6, out of a possible 4.0.

“Africa University was not all about academia; it was a broad-spectrum approach,” said Beta. “It taught me to appreciate diversity and embrace other cultures.”

Many graduates highlighted comfort with diversity and a sense of unity and shared purpose as a cherished and unique part of their Africa University experience.

“The most memorable aspect of my Africa University experience has been the diversity, the love, the Ubuntu spirit we share,” Kenneth Thomas, a Nigerian, remarked. “At AU, we are all our brother’s keeper, regardless of where we come from.”

The class of 2014 featured graduates who enrolled through the university’s satellite center in Mozambique as well as a blind student whose graduate work was a model of academic excellence. Their success highlighted the university’s commitment to accessibility and its pan-African ideals.

“Tsarai Mungoni has demonstrated that having no sight is not an impediment to anyone who desires to get an education,” said Fanuel Tagwira, vice chancellor and chief executive.

Planning is under way for expanding the university’s satellite center network to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Established by the worldwide United Methodist Church in 1988, Africa University is the first private, pan-African university to open in Zimbabwe. It has an annual full-time enrollment of 1,500 students and more than 5,000 graduates at work across sub-Saharan Africa.

Muonwa is acting director of information and public affairs at Africa University.