|University honors Murapa's 10 years of service|
Bishop Nkulu Ntanda Ntambo (left) and the Rev. Beauty Maenzanise share a dance with Rukudzo Murapa at a farewell dinner honoring Murapa’s years of leadership at Africa University. UMNS photos by Linda Green.
By Linda Green*
Dec. 10, 2007 | MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS)
While Africa University has grown in size and enrollment in the past 10 years, an even greater future lies ahead, according to the school’s outgoing vice chancellor.
The United Methodist-related school has more than doubled its student population to nearly 1,400 during the past decade, but Rukudzo Murapa said the university "has just yet touched its potential." Murapa told a gathering in his honor that the "greater horizon is out there," and the university community must pull together with one mind and in one direction to reach it.
"Whoever named the university ‘Africa,’ for whatever reason they had, has given this university a challenge," he said. "... It is a dream the size of the continent called Africa, and it must be realized for the continent."
Diplomats, business people, church and community leaders, alumni and students came together in a Nov. 30 farewell extravaganza to honor Murapa and his leadership of the pan-African school.
Last October, Murapa decided to step down as vice chancellor of the university, ending nearly 10 years at the helm. The Africa University Board of Directors appointed Fanuel Tagwira, dean of agriculture and natural resources, as the school's interim leader, effective Dec. 1.
"I will try my best, but I know that you are all going to work with me to make sure that this work is done well and that the institution continues to run smoothly as it has been doing under the wise leadership of Professor Murapa," Tagwira said.
During the Nov. 30 ceremony in the ballroom of the Holiday Inn, Bishop Nkulu Ntanda Ntambo told the crowd of more than 200 people that "Murapa makes us proud."
Murapa emphasized that he didn’t lead the university alone.
"If I have done anything in the last 10 years to contribute to the growth of Africa University, one thing is clear: It was not done by one person. It is a collective role that we have all played together," Murapa said.
"This man came back to change Africa for tomorrow."
-Bishop Nkulu Ntanda Ntambo
Africa University had only been in existence for six years when Murapa took over day-to-day leadership from the founding vice chancellor, John W. Z. Kurewa, in 1998. However, his involvement with the institution dated back to its inception. Before joining Africa University as vice chancellor, Murapa led the international planning committee that oversaw the development and launch of the Faculty of Management & Administration.
Under Murapa’s leadership, demographic diversity among the students has increased along with the enrollment, despite challenges related to the increasing cost of private higher education in Africa.
In particular, Murapa has encouraged faculty and students to work at the community level on efforts to solve problems, improve quality of life and bring about sustainable development.
Ntambo, the school's chancellor and chairman of the board of directors, said Murapa made Africans proud. "We are so proud of you for your commitment and for your love; so proud of you for your vision; so proud of your commitment to make a difference among many Africans."
While many Africans left the continent to be educated in Europe or the United States and never came back, Murapa was different, he said. "This man came back to change Africa for tomorrow."
Throughout the program, messages from a variety of people were read, the Africa University Choir sang, and gifts were presented.
Speaking for the Africa University Alumni Association, Cyndrella Musodza told the gathering that her matriculation at Africa University was one of the greatest educational experiences of her life. Murapa, she said, "always went out of his way to assist his students in every way he could." He surrounded himself with staff and lecturers who "provided a good dose of the word of God for anyone who had a willing heart to receive it," she said.
One of Murapa's legacies is the connections the university has made across the world, said Isdore Fungai, a member of the faculty of management and administration. "He has left Africa University with a lot of contacts, and as a networker we will not miss him because network means there is no distance."
In 1974 Bishop Felton May stood on the hilltop on the grounds Hilltop United Methodist Church and wondered as he looked down onto Sakubva, the Mutare suburb where Murapa was born, if any good thing could emerge from that place. He described it as being a "mangled housing project of shacks and shanties and some sturdy houses of residences."
May, a member of the university's board of directors, told Murapa that God "made you and gave you sufficient wisdom and power and courage to move from that spot physically, but never emotionally, and to share the gifts that you have been so richly blessed with with the world." May is the interim top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
The Africa University Choir performs in honor of Rukudzo Murapa.
Caroline Njuki, a member of the board of directors, told United Methodist News Service later that from humble beginnings Murapa rose through the ranks to rub shoulders with top leaders, "without forgetting were he came from and who he is. He leaves a lasting legacy on Africa University."
Washington Mbizvo, Zimbabwe's minister of tertiary education, called Africa University a "unique" multicultural institution that is guided by Christian values. He told Murapa that the "fact that you have been able to steer the ship in the last 10 years is paramount."
Murapa began his academic career at Cornell University as an associate professor and taught in the areas of political science, African studies and public administration for more than a decade. He returned to serve at the University of Zimbabwe in 1979, holding such posts as head of the Department of Political and Administrative studies and dean in the Faculty of Social Sciences between 1979 and 1988.
During a brief stint with the Southern Africa Development Community, based in Swaziland, he served as the senior adviser on the establishment of the SADC portfolio on Human Resources Development.
In 1988, Murapa left academia to set up the first field office of a joint United Nations, World Bank/Economic Development Institute and ILO program to strengthen public sector training management training institutions in sub-Saharan Africa. Before becoming vice chancellor of Africa University, Murapa served as an inter-regional adviser on Governance, Finance and Public Administration with the U.N. Department of Development Support and Management Services. His work covered many African countries and Eastern Europe, including Bosnia.
Throughout his career, he has published extensively and helped to found several professional bodies, including the African Association of Political Science; the Society for International Development-Zimbabwe Chapter; and the African Association of Public Administration and Management.
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5475 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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