Graduates were urged to be entrepreneurial revolutionaries and create jobs rather than look for them, when three recipients were honoured with doctorate degrees from NMMU at the university’s second day of graduation ceremonies yesterday.
Speaking at the morning ceremony, NMMU chancellor Santie Botha said the trio’s achievements were an honour and privilege for the university.
“This year, NMMU will award a record 95 doctorate degrees. This is a formidable achievement and [the honorary degree recipients] are formidable individuals, all born in Africa,” she said.
First recipient Strive Masiyiwa, 56, born in Zimbabwe and now based in London, said: “When you hear about Nelson Mandela’s [footsteps] you don’t think about following in them – they are so big you could live in them.”
After finishing school in Scotland, Masiyiwa received a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Wales and in 1984 returned to Zimbabwe to work as a telecoms engineer for the state-owned telephone company.
Within five years of quitting his job and with the equivalent of just US$75 (R1 030) Masiyiwa emerged as one of Zimbabwe’s leading industrialists.
Through the Higher Life Foundation, set up by Masiyiwa and his wife, Tsitsi, more than 250 000 young Africans have received scholarships in the past 20 years.
Masiyiwa encouraged graduates of NMMU’s business school to be entrepreneurial revolutionaries and create jobs, rather than look for them.
“As hopeful graduates going into the job market, during this extraordinary time with extraordinary challenges, you should leave today to create jobs and not look for them,” he said.
“We need an entrepreneurial revolution on this continent.”
Former public service and administration minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, 57, also a former SACP chairwoman, received an honorary doctorate in philosophy.
“I am greatly honoured to receive this doctorate in the year that NMMU will officially become Nelson Mandela University,” she said.
Fraser-Moleketi was born in Cape Town, studied at the University of the Western Cape and in exile in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Angola in the 1980s.
She played a key role in preparing the ANC for South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994 as National Deputy Elections Coordinator.
“It is significant that the graduates of NMMU will live the legacy of Nelson Mandela to a greater degree as this is and will be the university in the world that carries this great name,” she said.
Third recipient, Ghanaian-born Fred Swaniker was recognised for his educational entrepreneurship and globally acclaimed leadership development.
He launched the African Leadership Academy, a school for African students in Africa, in 2004.
Swaniker said Mandela was the greatest influence in his life.
“Today is symbolic. It is remarkable how things come full circle,” he said.
“An idea inspired by Nelson Mandela has grown into a network of universities with leadership development at their core and today I am receiving an honorary doctorate from a university named after the great leader himself.”