Fireworks punctuated Africa University’s 30th anniversary celebration, accompanied by thunderous applause, whistling and traditional ululating by the women.
Over 3,000 guests gathered under a massive tent in October and witnessed the inauguration of the Rev. Peter Mageto as Africa University’s fifth vice chancellor, becoming the first non-Zimbabwean to hold the position since the institution was established in 1992.
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The installation of Mageto, a Kenyan, placed him at the helm of Zimbabwe’s first private university, an institution revered by United Methodists around the world.
In his inaugural address, he said people invest in the hope that the evolving project will bear fruit. He also paid tribute to the four vice chancellors who had gone before him.
“As I stand here before you, the height you see is not only my own. I am standing on the shoulders of giants who cleared the path I am about to humbly follow,” he said.
“For this institution to be the beacon of pride and hope it is, it took the work of AU emeritus vice chancellors,” he said, referring to the late Rev. John Kurewa, the late Rukudzo Murapa, Fanuel Tagwira and the late Munashe Furusa.
“Today, Africa University turns 30. The number 30 is in itself a blessed figure. Thirty was the age of our Lord Jesus Christ when he commenced his ministry here on earth. It gives us great faith to be walking resolutely towards the fourth decade,” Mageto said.
He thanked the United Methodist General Conference for approving the establishment of the university, and the Zimbabwe Annual Conference for donating 1,542 acres of land and pledging consistent financial support for the institution.
Mageto made special mention of people who had mentored him academically and in ministry saying they had prepared him for his role at the reins of Africa University.
Bishop Tracy Smith Malone of East Ohio, who serves on the Africa University board of directors, congratulated Mageto on behalf of Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton, president of the Council of Bishops.
Dwaun J. Warmack, president and chief executive officer of Claflin University in South Carolina, which partners with Africa University in several areas, encouraged the new vice chancellor.
Tagwira, Africa University’s third vice chancellor (2008-2014), spoke on behalf of the Zimbabwe government’s Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, where he is now serving.
Bishop Mande Muyombo of the North Katanga Area and chair of Africa University’s board of directors, said it had been a long journey to find the right leader who would move the university to the next level.
Quinton Kanhukamwe welcomed Mageto to the Zimbabwe Universities Vice Chancellors Association and commended Africa University for its efforts in tuberculosis research.
Kuzvinetsa Dzvimbo of the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education, the regulatory authority that approves academic programs and ensures standards are maintained, said he looks forward to Africa University introducing medicine and engineering degrees.
Mageto joined Africa University in September 2018 as deputy vice chancellor and had been acting vice chancellor since January 2021.
He holds two degrees from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Illinois: a Doctor of Philosophy in theological ethics and a Master of Theological Studies. He earned a postgraduate certificate in African studies at Northwestern University, Chicago, and his Bachelor of Divinity degree was awarded by St. Paul’s United Theological College in Kenya.
excerpt from a story by Eveline Chikwanah Chikwanah, communicator of the Zimbabwe East Conference.
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.