• August 10th, 2020

Unam’s first spring graduation ceremony a resounding marvel

Higher education at the University of Namibia is poised for phenomenal heights as revealed at the glorious first spring graduation ceremony the institution held on Wednesday this week.

Explaining why the University now has a second graduation ceremony, the spring graduation ceremony, Unam Vice Chancellor, Prof Kenneth Matengu said that the institution had come to realise that students who received their certificates “later” (after the first graduation ceremony) were by no means “lesser” than their counterparts. 

“They should neither have to wait a full year before graduating, nor should they be casually handed a certificate, in lonely Unam corridors by their faculties. It should be done in an honourable way, this way at a ceremony, in the presence of our distinguished and accomplished Chancellor, in full view of your classmates and those who have given the most to make it possible …  parents, [guardians] friends and sponsors,” said Matengu. This second graduation ceremony was hailed by students who could not hide their appreciation as this afforded them a chance of graduation eight months earlier.

“I now have my degree; I can start looking for a job. Otherwise I would have waited until April 2020 to graduation. Many thanks to the Vice Chancellor and his team for starting this spring graduation. It will save many students,” remarked a student who preferred anonymity.

 The spring graduation ceremony witnessed 6 students graduating with doctoral degrees in business administration, inclusive education, nursing, clinical pharmacology, science and molecular biology. This brings to 17 doctoral students Unam has graduated this year, 11 having already graduated in April. By international standards, and taking it account that Unam is still a young institution of higher learning, graduating 17 PhD students is a remarkable achievement.

 To spice it all, the spring graduation had an extraordinary honorary doctoral degree student, Mr Alexander Theophelus Jarimbovandu Kaputu whom Prof Matengu described as 

“.. a rare breed of the children born of the Ovaherero of Namibia .. Jarimbovandu referring to the genocide that scattered the people.” As Prof Matengu quietly and solemnly read Dr Kaputu’s citation, outlining his early life and accolades, the audience got emotionally absorbed and enthralled by Jari’s exploits during the apartheid era and after independence. There was no doubt that Jari touched the hearts of many Namibians in oral literature (orature), oral history and broadcasting at SWBC and later NBC. He extended his programmes to educate the African people and left an indelible mark in their souls.

 “Our candidate is special. Although described as a living archive, he does not belong to history. He belongs to the future … as a life encyclopedia, he excels in oral literature (orature) and history …”  explained Prof Matengu.

Therefore, Jari graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy Honoris Causa in Literature, officially and befittingly earning the title “Doctor” – becoming Dr Kaputu after being capped by His Excellence, Vice President Dr Nangolo Mbumba, Unam’s Chancellor. As is the tradition with the award of honorary degrees, the recipient has to give an acceptance speech. In his well-crafted speech Dr Kaputu paid tribute to his late grandmother for being his source of oral history, herself having been a teenager at the battle of Waterberg (Ohamakari) in 1904. “Whenever I would offer contributions to authors of Namibian history, particularly the history of national resistance to colonial rule, and at a point I would start to feel unappreciated for the fundamental inputs would make to many doctoral theses in Namibian History, customary law, Religion, Anthropology, and Linguistics; my grandmother would only encourage me to continue, promising me that I would be handsomely rewarded someday. I can proudly say that today is the day,” Dr Kaputu vivaciously read his speech. His reading mesmerized the audience, typical of a radio personality – a soothing, melodious and magical voice.  He impressed the audience by touching on a variety of societal issues that include the use of African languages in education up to grade 5 in order to foster identity, writing of biographies, gender-based violence and climate change.

It was of symbolic importance that the maiden spring graduation was graced by the Chancellor, His Excellence, Vice President, Nangolo Mbumba. After witnessing many graduates from foreign countries, Dr Mbumba expressed satisfaction that the quality of education at Unam was high as it attracted students from other countries. In relation to culture, Dr Mbumba appealed to the young generation to interrogate the relevance of culture in the 4th industrial revolution. On maritime resources Dr Mbumba urged more research to be conducted in order to explore those resources that benefit society. “I appeal to all academics of note, to explore the opportunities presented by the Blue Economy and artificial intelligence if we want to be counted among the game changers,” said the Chancellor. 

Reassuring government support through the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Deputy Minister Dr Becky Ndjose-Ojo, speaking on behalf of the Minister, said that her ministry will continue to support students registered at the University of Namibia. She noted that he ministry demonstrated this commitment by paying for students who had not initially received financial aid when other got it earlier in the year. Like other state higher education institutions elsewhere, the University of Namibia relies heavily on state founding, and this is normal.

To all intents and purposes, the splendid activities and high sprit of the spring graduation ceremony point a brighter future of higher education at the University of Namibia. This was the general feeling that one picked inside the hall and from conversations at the end of the academic function. 

*Professor Jairos Kangira is the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Namibia. He writes on his own accord. Email address:kjairos@gmail.com

Staff Reporter
2019-09-27 09:41:58 | 10 months ago

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