Gifts from African donors in honor of Africa University's 25th anniversary have surpassed $125K to date. The upsurge in philanthropic support is being viewed as an indicator of the institution's impact and growing reputation.
Africa University's supporters on the continent are diverse. They include its own faculty, students, alumni, and their families, as well as leading professionals, corporations, and civic organizations.
Tinoziva Bere, a Zimbabwean lawyer and Africa University legal counsel, is one of the university's most committed and consistent individual donors. In March, he pledged $25K for the construction of staff housing. Bere has routinely made cash and in-kind gifts to the university over the past 20+ years, but this is his largest gift so far.
"I believe in Africa University and I think that it is a place to invest if you care about the future of the young people," said Bere. "I believe in education as the only way to guarantee a future for Africa itself."
Growing up number two in a family of eight children, with parents who struggled to make ends meet, Bere says that he had "no chance" except for that afforded by education. He recalls that his mother fought and sacrificed to get him into a mission school. Within two months of graduating from law school, Bere landed a job with the late Knox Munjoma, the first Zimbabwean to serve as legal counsel to Africa University. In 1992, just as the university prepared to open, Munjoma died. The role of Africa University legal counsel passed to Bere.
"We feel inadequate if we do not do for Africa University," Bere said. "In many ways (AU) taught me everything that I know about corporate law and governance. It taught me to learn quickly and it has shaped the kind of lawyer that I am today."
Bere's previous contributions have supported student scholarships and recognized academic excellence. This time, he's investing in infrastructure.
"The unrecognized engine room that has kept the university going are the hundreds of junior staff," said Bere. "Their cause does not often get immediate attention…Good, simple family units on campus would build the university community and would make life a little more comfortable for the most hard-working and sometimes under-appreciated junior staff."
Zimbabwean brick makers, Willdale Bricks, pledged 10,000 bricks at the 25th anniversary celebration and designated the gift for student housing construction. In addition, African donors provided more than $500K in gifts over a three-year period (2012-2015) under the ELMA Foundation challenge grant. The ELMA challenge, dubbed "Africans for Africa University", helped to expand the university's advancement efforts on the continent. Donations from African donors were matched dollar for dollar, resulting in the injection of more than $1 million into the Africa University's operating budget.
Andra M. Stevens, Director, Communications, Africa University Development Office
One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Africa University Fund transforms Africa by educating and empowering students from across the continent through Africa University, the first fully accredited, United Methodist-related educational institution on the continent. The Africa University Fund supports the general operating expenses of Africa University including faculty and staff salaries and vital infrastructure. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Africa University Fund at 100 percent.