Graduation Day at Africa University

After a good breakfast, we headed down the steps and walkway toward the AU Chapel. A huge tent had been erected for the graduation ceremonies, extending out from the chapel to cover an area between the library and the administration building. We were ushered to seats in a VIP seating area off to the side of the large platform where about a hundred official dignitaries were seated. The large audience area had seating for the 616 graduating students, college faculty, and immediate family members of graduating students. Hundreds more stood around the perimeter of the huge open-sided tent. High above them flew the flags of thirty some African nations from which AU students had come. 

After the opening processional of faculty and graduating students, the AU choir sang the Zimbabwean national anthem, followed by about an hour of speeches by top AU officials and a few visiting dignitaries. Mr. Timothy Keating, EVP of the Boeing Corporation was given an honorary degree. Then he gave a 15-minute talk about the trajectory of his life and the importance of moments like these in the lives of those graduating. He emphasized the values of humility, hard work, and respect for others as the secrets of success on life’s pathway.

Students from the various departments lined up to receive their degrees, and many of them were awarded prizes and special recognition for their academic achievements. I gave the Bishop and Mrs. Ralph Dodge prize to the top graduating student in the Master of Public Health class, telling him that he was continuing the legacy of the Safari for Learning established by Bishop Dodge half a century ago. A little later, the conclusion of the graduation ceremonies was marked by cheering and flying graduation caps.

After going back to change into more casual clothes, we boarded our van and headed for the Sarimana home in Mutare. The Sarimana family had been my host family over the years since 2004 when I was part of several Volunteer-in-Mission teams. They had become my Zimbabwean family, and they invited us for a welcome luncheon at their lovely home. I introduced my family to them and everyone enjoyed a relaxing afternoon after a delicious lunch.

Before going back to the AU campus in Old Mutare, we went by the Mutare Boy’s School where my brother Cliff had been in boarding school for several years during his adolescent years in what was then Rhodesia. We got a few nice pictures of my niece, Cathy, as she stood in front of signage of the school her father had attended so many years before.

It was dusk when we got back to the AU campus. We all got out of the van at the entrance to enter the landscaped grounds inside the gate area. We had a private family memorial time in that garden-like setting as we shared memories of my parents and brother Cliff. It had been another very meaningful day.