If you happened to have been around JKUAT on the 27th June, 2017, you would have noticed that it was not business as usual. This had nothing to do with the fact that the University was hosting yet another congregation of visionary change-makers. It also had absolutely nothing to do with the pomp and color (pardon the cliche) that surrounded the University. But yes, you guessed right. It had everything to do with the fact that this was an extraordinary Graduation Ceremony, combining JKUAT and the Pan-African University Institute for Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation (PAUSTI). JKUAT their 29th, and PAUSTI their 2nd.
Engrained in the foundation of the various Pan-African University institutes is the vision of an African continent that is managed by its own citizens and acting as a dynamic force in the international arena. An overall goal of ushering in a new generation of leaders, well-equipped to harness the wealth of African human and natural resources, imbued with a common vision of a peaceful, prosperous and integrated Africa. These basic but very noble tenets are the lifeline of the Pan-African University Institute for Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation (PAUSTI) that is proudly hosted by JKUAT.
Bringing together students from sixteen different African countries, this year’s graduation saw a total of 42 students graduating with various Masters of Science Degrees. Nine in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, seven in Civil Engineering, eight in Electrical Engineering, and a record eighteen in Mathematics. Over an intensive duration of two years, they carried with them the African Union dream of galvanizing the continent through higher education and research. And other than all their individual academic journeys ending with high quality publications of academic research and patents, they now proceed to actualize this integral African dream.
At the sidelines of a dinner organized in their honor after the graduation, we captured the thoughts of some of the graduates on their experience and their vision for the continent going forward. This is what they had to say.
Mr. Ogunyiola Ayorinde Joshua (Nigerian national, Graduate of M.Sc. Mathematics, Financial Option); ‘I really appreciate my coming to Kenya. When I got my admission letter some two and half years ago I was very excited to come to Kenya. I was a bit worried though, because I was admitted for a Mathematics major and all I had was an Economics and Applied Mathematics background. When I saw the course content and outline, I knew what I was coming in for, and what I had to do. I had to sit down and read more, and that is what I did and it paid off at the end of the day. With the skill set I have gathered I know I have the capacity to proffer solutions to better Africa. As for my experience here, Kenya has been good to me, the people have been great and of course being at PAUSTI meant interacting with young people from different countries. I now have friends all over, and I know together we can take Africa to the next stage.’
Ms. Lucy Mwangi (Kenyan national, Graduate of M.Sc. Computational Mathematics); ‘I have to admit at the beginning I was a bit anxious about how the environment and experience would be, but so far it has proved to be fun. Interacting with students from all over Africa was a new experience for me and it opened my eyes to so many possibilities. As for my next step, I hope to come back for my PhD after some field work.’
Ms. Mawo Nathalie Suliy (Cameroonian national, Graduate of M.Sc. Civil Engineering, Structural Option). Also the PAU Council Student Representative; ‘Coming to Kenya was the first time I was leaving my home country and I have to say it has been an amazing experience. In fact, I already know I’m going to miss Kenya so much. Meeting people from other places, learning how things are done differently elsewhere and basically getting out of your bubble has been the highlight of my experience. This has changed my perspective and sense of direction. You know initially I just wanted to go to school, get a degree and get employed but now it’s different. I really want to create an impact, and a long lasting one for that matter, not just in my country but in Africa as a whole.’
Mr. Reagan Moseti (Kenyan national, Graduate of M.Sc. Molecular Biology & Biotechnology); ‘The experience of meeting new people from diverse cultures was a very eye-opening thing. I got to realize that we share so much in common despite our different nationalities and cultures. That extends to the socio-economic and even political change that we all need across the continent. The future is bright if we all come together to achieve these collective goals.’
Mr. Hastings Simbarashe Zawaira (Zimbabwean national, Graduate of M.Sc. Electrical Engineering, Power Systems Option); ‘I think I can classify my experience into two different categories. Academically, I have to say it was very good. I think it was nice. Learning with different people from different cultures, being facilitated by professionals from across the continent was great. I can even cite some of the lecturers, for example one of my doctors, Dr. Kaberer. The way he taught me and helped me understand my concept was very good effective. Socially speaking, meeting new people from different nations and being in a new country was an experience of a lifetime. Meeting new people has changed my perspectives a lot, together with so many stereotypes. You know the moment you get to meet a certain group of people, get to know their bedrock, where they are coming from, where they are at the current moment, where they are heading to and their aspirations, it changes a lot. On the whole, I can say now I’m very much equipped and empowered to make a difference not only to my country but also to Africa at large. The future of youth leadership in Africa is getting brighter by the day and we can only make it better.’
Ms. Hulubanche Kassa Tadele (Ethiopian national, Graduate of M.Sc. Molecular Biology & Biotechnology); ‘My experience here has been one of a lifetime. Of course there were few challenges, but they were nothing in comparison to getting to interact with young people from different countries. It has shown me new horizons that I am definitely going to exploit. From here I will be continuing my work as an Agricultural Researcher, but my belief is that PAUSTI is on track towards becoming the best.’
Realizing this century as the African century depends on our strides in knowledge generation and ability to harness the productive capacity of Africa’s labor force in science and technology. These were the closing sentiments of H.E Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, the African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson as he congratulated the PAUSTI graduates. His firm belief, as should be ours all, that the only game-changer and magic bullet that Africa can depend on is investing in young men and women so that they become innovators, drivers and the energizers of Agenda 2063. Which, simply put, is the AU Vision of ‘An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in international arena.’
Congratulations to the graduates, and may the odds forever be rigged in your favor as you take Africa to the next frontier of prosperity.
For more information on the Pan-African University Institute of Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation, kindly visit the website. The institute, like all other PAU institutes offers full scholarships to all students enrolled into its programmes following a competetive admissions process.