Graduation at Africa University
Image by: Courtesy Africa University
Africa University Choir
Image by: courtesy of Africa University
Mande Muyombo is the oldest of 16 siblings; his father earned the equivalent of 30 dollars a month. The scholarship Rev. Muyombo received from Global Ministries to attend Africa University made all the difference in the world to him. The education set Rev. Muyombo on a path to becoming the leader he is within The United Methodist Church.
"I appreciate very much the generosity and love of the people called United Methodists. I look at myself as the return on the investment and sacrifice of many United Methodist men and women," Mr. Muyombo says.
Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo in Katanga, Rev. Muyombo studied theology at Africa University from 2002 to 2006 and then from 2006 to 2008 joined the Institute of Peace Leadership and Governance there. During his master's studies, he served as an international student advisor and directed the Africa University Choir.
Currently, Rev. Muyombo is the director of Kamina Methodist University in the North Katanga Episcopal Area in the Congo. He is married to Blandine Mujinga Ngoy, who is completing her bachelor's in education at Africa University. They have two daughters: Christiana Mande, seven, and Christelle, one.
Leadership Development Scholars Supported by Global Ministries
In 2011, the Global Ministries Scholarship office will support 68 African scholars, many of whom, like Rev. Muyombo, will go on to lead churches, communities, and governments. Eleven of the 2011 scholars will attend Africa University.
Africa University is a United Methodist university founded in 1992, which currently serves more than 1,200 pan-African students in a variety of fields. The university is located in Mutare, Zimbabwe. While the country has struggled economically and politically, the university continues to provide a quality education to its scholars.
"Africa University's promotion of hands-on experience through internships in the areas of student study, and its commitment to trying so hard, even in high-stress economic times, to provide even small scholarships to as many students as possible, makes for both a greatly nurturing--as well as a very stimulating--environment," said Lisa Katzenstein, Global Ministries scholarship executive.
Dr. Caroline Njuki, Assistant General Secretary of Global Ministries and board member of Africa University, delivered the commencement address a year after Rev. Muyombo graduated from the university. At the ceremony, she reminded the graduates of three responsibilities:
1. You have the responsibility to make a difference in the world into which you are moving as university graduates. This continent of Africa and the world need men and women who can make a difference when it comes to science, the arts, medicine, technology, government, religion, and education.
2. You have the responsibility to become leaders for peace, justice, economic stability, and happiness even when the road is hard and the temptation to sit and do nothing is great.
3. You have the responsibility to have the passion to succeed in realizing your dreams, and the strength to fail and try again.
(Read more of Dr. Njuki's commencent address in the box at the end of this article.)
Rev. Muyombo believes his responsibility is to lead "the church in the African context, a church which is called to work for social transformation. The challenges of poverty, violent conflicts, and HIV/AIDS in Africa need the church to play its prophetic role in the community."
According to Rev. Muyombo, the diversity of African students, who come from more than 28 countries, is a gift. "Whereas ethnic diversity has always been considered as a cause of conflict in Africa, through the Africa University community experience, we learned that it is an opportunity for peace and development.... Africa University is a saving place for most of us who grew up in extreme poverty and violent conflicts."
Dr. Maggie Jackson, a member of the board at Africa University, agrees. She sees Africa University, as "through the grace of God, the living dream providing higher education for the continent of Africa." Dr. Jackson chairs the department of social work at Cleveland State University and is a member of the board of directors of the General Board of Global Ministries.
The symbol of Africa University is a silhouette of an acacia tree. This is an apt metaphor for Africa University's students, who, like the tree, continue to grow despite adverse conditions. At Africa University, the scholars grow intellectually and spiritually and lead the world--creating peace, leadership, and progress.
To learn more about Africa University, go to: www.africa.edu.
While many scholars receive support from World Communion Day, a Special Sunday celebrated the first Sunday in October, many scholars, like Rev. Muyombo, have received Leadership Development Grants.
Gifts to develop leaders and scholars may be given all year long, especially around graduation, through The Advance, the designated giving channel of The United Methodist Church.
1. Give to Leadership Development Grants.
2. Learn more about the scholarships offered from Global Ministries.
3. Read last month's Spring Board Meeting news on the overall number of scholarships.
More Inspiration from Dr. Caroline W. Njuki:
Commencement Address to Africa University Students
Ironically, commencement means to bring to a close, to fulfill, but a university commencement is also a door to new tomorrows. As you pass through this door, here are a few simple messages I hope you will consider taking with you:
1. Treat others as you would like to be treated. We usually associate this admonition with Jesus, but it also comes from other great religious teachers, and I take it as universal. Life can be a total misery when we ignore this Golden Rule. You will not always find the world outside the school as friendly or comfortable as the existence you have enjoyed here. You need a central concept to hold to when that perfect job goes to someone else, when the woman or man you want for a partner picks someone else; when the winds of negative change blow hot against your face. Even then: Treat others as you would like to be treated. You will never regret it.
2. Be honest. Nothing matters more than your sense of integrity. Be honest even if you find yourselves trapped in a corrupt economic environment. You have learned at this school and need always to remember that it is wrong to steal, lie, or cheat, and to pretend you are something other than who you are. Transparency sets you free in terms of personal and social identity. Transparency ensures a positive environment and good economics. I hope that this class will set an example as one of the most open and honest groups in the history of this institution.
3. Reach back to those who are not as fortunate as you. I expect that most of you are here because someone took you by the hand and started you on the journey to this hour. Therefore, you are morally obliged to do the same for another. And the more money, and the more energy, and the more influence you have or accumulate, the more you must do. Start early to develop a sense of philanthropy and caring. Within the global life of the church, I know elderly men and women living on fixed incomes who save so they can send $12.00 to the Board of Global Ministries toward student scholarships--maybe for some of you--or to dig a well, or to provide mosquito nets for children. Do not skimp on the spirit of sharing. It is excellent to help family, but that is like paying for insurance; we need to expand out, giving further to others whom we do not even know, because someone we do not know helped us! In my job, many times I must look for funds for a project or scholarship in Liberia, Kenya, or Zimbabwe; in the course of the search, I often stop and smile, realizing that the recipients will never know how hard I worked to put together a funding package. They will never know me; never say "Thank you Caroline," and it does not matter because to give anonymously is the most exuberating experience.
4. Center your life in faith, in religion. Human beings do not live by bread alone. We need to believe in a power higher than ourselves. For those of us who are Christian, that power is God as revealed in Jesus Christ, the one who is both the messenger and the message of love. Without faith in God, we become empty shells with no sense of responsibility, empathy, or love; we become like the dust blowing in the wind of fate. Your faith will anchor you as a person, and guide you during times of trial and upheaval, and believe me, there are such times for all of us. Your faith will help you enjoy your own hopes and those of others.
5. Respect yourself. Respect your talents and capacities; respect your dreams and expectations; respect your bodies. Many parts of Africa are today ravaged by HIV/AIDS, which is an avoidable disease. Outside the safe walls of this school, I pray you will not forget that money in your pocket and time on your hands do not make you invulnerable to this virus. In the circle of HIV/AIDS practitioners and activists, engaging in unsafe relationships is called "risky behavior." Do not risk your lives and that of your partners. If you engage yourself in risky behavior, you may die prematurely. Respect the temple of your body.
6. Treasure your family. Africa has strong family ties, perhaps the strongest in the world, yet as I move around the continent of Africa, I am amazed and frightened by the erosion of family values and ties. The escalating movement of people from rural to urban areas undercuts the old ways of villages and farms. Jobs, of course, motivate this population shift. It is a trend hard to change, and may have some positive results; it also has strong negative implications. Rural Africa today is increasingly populated by the poor, the old, the infirm, and dependent children. Sociological research, notably on China, Japan, and India, indicates that cultures that maintain their languages and traditions also have strong family ties. They are the ones who then begin to set the world agenda as their economies grow stronger. So, graduates, if you are a child of the soil or of a village, you may wish to set up a small business or a law practice or whatever in your home country so that your family roots will survive.
7. Expand your horizons. Now that you have a formal, if perhaps closely defined education, explore other avenues and arenas of culture, literature, music, and academic topics beyond your experience to date. Become more rounded in knowing the world. Cultivate your mind. Travel, if you can. See the pyramids of Egypt, the Taj Mahal of India, the cathedrals of France, the great natural wonders of Africa, and the cities of America, north and south. Today, such visual experience is available on DVDs, compact discs, and the internet. Explore the world even if you stay at home.
8. Stay linked to your University. Africa University is not through with you. You cannot attend this school and then make a clean break in the relationship. The University of Pittsburgh reminds me each year that it is time to pay alumni dues, and I do this without fail, with pleasure and gratitude. This institution contributed to who I am today, and enabled me to stand before you at this commencement exercise. The institutions that prepare us for our lives outside are like our parents. We have to stay close to them, nurture them and support them. Now--I am speaking with my board member cap on, but I hope that the class sets another record in financial support for this institution.
9. Finally, love Africa with passion. This continent of ours, with its great diversity, its wealth of resources, and its potential, is our Mother Earth. Claim it! Embrace it! Care for its people, protect its environment, nurture its cultures, and represent it with pride. You are, after all, its sons and daughters. Walk straight and tall proclaiming to the world, "I am proud to be an African, and I am a graduate of Africa University."
May God love and bless you all. CONGRATULATIONS!
May 06, 2011