SIR Sam Jonah’s Speech At The Fifth And Final Session Of The 42nd Congregation Of The University Of Cape Coast
HONOURABLE MINISTER OF EDUCATION
MINISTERS OF STATE
OSABARIMA KWASI ATTA II, OMANHENE OF OGUAA TRADITIONAL AREA
MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT
MEMBERS OF THE UNIVERSITY COUNCIL
MEMBERS OF CONVOCATION
ALUMNI OF UCC
STAFF AND STUDENTS
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all to this fifth and final session of the 42nd Congregation of the University of Cape Coast. This year’s congregation has been planned slightly differently from previous ones. For the first time in the history of this university, we are holding our congregation indoors.
Again, for the first time in the history of the University, there has been two sessions, as we saw on Thursday the 22nd and Friday, the 23rd. Today marks the final session of the congregation.
(Graduating Class of 2011, CONGRATULATIONS!!! )
Congregations are celebratory occasions. These last three days, we have been celebrating the hard work, dedication, commitment and sacrifice of our grandaunts; we have also been celebrating with parents and benefactors who have every reason to be immensely proud that this day has come. All of the sacrifices you have made for your wards have not been in vain; Needless to say, we also celebrating the contribution of all the other stakeholders of this great university; the faculty, administrative and supporting staff. All of you have made these last three days possible. I know the graduands are immensely grateful to you all.
At every congregation every graduate looks forward with great expectation to the future; a future that holds the potential for the realization of dreams. You have every reason to expect your training here to be a passport to a brighter future for you and your families. In my time these were not mere dreams. That was the reality. A university diploma, especially one from a fine institution like this was a sure guarantee to a decent paying job and a future of promise. Opportunities were boundless. There were simply not enough university graduates to take up all these opportunities, and it was precisely because of this that this fine university was set up in 1962 to produce the much-needed manpower for building of a new nation.
Sadly, the world has changed. And the change has brought in its wake new realities. For one, graduate unemployment is now a very strong feature of the new reality. I am told that the Labour Commission estimates the unemployed graduate figure to be a staggering 700,000 to date. The circumstances, which prevailed in my time, bear no resemblance to today’s.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the global economy is now in turmoil and understandably our economy like many others has not been immune to the ripple effects of this turmoil. We are experiencing truly traumatic times. The economic stability of nations which have been the bedrock of the world’s economic prosperity, has been seriously undermined. Who would have thought that the world would be witnessing the almost total economic collapse of prominent EU countries like Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and others? Even the almighty United States of America has not been spared. Ladies and Gentlemen, We are witnessing truly tectonic economic conditions worldwide the likes of which have not been seen since the great depression.
Not unexpectedly, nations have become more inward looking. Economies are simply not generating enough jobs for nationals. As a consequence, fortresses to keep out foreigners are being erected everywhere, and regrettably we are seeing higher incidence of xenophobia. These circumstances create an environment that breeds, anxiety, hopelessness and frustration. For a new graduate all of these changes must be truly overwhelming. But don’t be daunted. I am of the firm belief that those who will make it in the new world are those who have had the benefit of the training that you have had.
You are leaving this university with a fine education and as Nelson Mandela said in his Long Walk to Freedom, “Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world.” Your success today has been the result of hard work, discipline, commitment, sense of balance, self-reliance, teamwork, critical thinking, leadership, humility, a sense of curiosity and many others. Believe me, Ladies and Gentlemen all of these attributes that your training has given, will be needed in even greater measure as you confront the challenges of the new world.
In this new world, you cannot afford to wait on others to determine your fate. The era of postgraduate guaranteed employment is long gone. You will now have to fashion out your own destiny. The times we live in call for creativity, out of the box thinking, innovation and a can-do spirit. There is limited room for conventional thinking. And by all means don’t be afraid to be different. These are the essential ingredients to success in whatever you choose to do.
In this regard, you can emulate the fine examples of many successful Ghanaians. I’m referring to the likes of Asuma Banda of Antrak, Yussif Ibrahim of Dar a Salam Group of Companies, Ernest Bediako Sampong of Ernest Chemist, Kofi Amoabeng of UT Finance, Kwame Bamfo of Sikkens, Kofi Amoah of Citizen Kofi, Siaw Agyepong of Zoomlion, Theresa Oppong of Manet and many others.
These Ghanaian entrepreneurs, some of whom were not as privileged as you, have built highly successful businesses from almost nothing. Each and every one of them had a clear vision of what they wanted in life and they capitalized on any and every opportunity to realize their dream. Of course they faced many challenges, they had many setbacks, there several discouraging moments, and no doubt at times their vision may have appeared like a pipe dream.
But the overarching attribute of their success was that they persevered.
Indeed they never gave up.
It is this spirit, which must guide you as you step out of these fine walls into the new world. I stand here to tell you that your university, the university of choice has adequately prepared you to face head on the challenges of our time. Be assured that you have what it takes to be successful.
Graduates of 2011, as you toss your tassels behind you today; you are being ushered into another University. WELCOME to the “University of Life”! Those who have graduated well in the University of Life have had setbacks and successes almost in equal measure. You will find that successes and failures are the experiences that are most valuable in life. And at this juncture Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to share with you a passage from Rudyard Kipling’s “IF” poem.
“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
…….Or watch things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools;
…….And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
…….And so hold on where there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them:”Hold on! ”
Ladies and Gentlemen, in conclusion I would like to touch on a few other pertinent issues. Graduands of 2011 do not think that your education has ended after today’s ceremony. As Newton Baker, President Woodrow Wilson’s Secretary of War said, “The man who graduates today and stops learning tomorrow is uneducated the day after.” Your graduation is but a transition into the next phase of your lives; and to stay current and relevant, you should continue to have a learning mind.
In my own personal experience, the vital lessons that have shaped my professional career have been the ones I have learnt outside the walls of a formal educational institution.
Ladies and Gentlemen, several and varied reasons have been advanced to explain the causes of our present economic predicament. These factors have included leadership issues, pursuit of parochial interests, greed, “short-terminism” and the absence of ethical considerations in corporate and political decision-making. Some have even attributed the present mess to the role educational institutions have played in the shaping and moulding of present day corporate and political leaders.
Whatever the causes, there can be no doubt that university education must now place more emphasis on the core moral values of leadership. In my view, our motto VERITAS NOBIS LUMEN: TRUTH OUR GUIDE, encapsulates all the virtues that will be needed to get the world out of the fine mess we find ourselves in. I pray that in these difficult times, corporate and political leaders take inspiration from our motto.
Finally, I am sure very soon, we will be hearing of your successes in business and other endeavors. When the good times come, as they will, please don’t forget your alma mater.
Harvard University’s greatness – its ability to provide the best lecturers, the best infrastructure and to produce the best research - is directly related to the strength of its world leading endowment programme built on the donations of alumni, which in 2007 totaled a staggering $28bn! It is incumbent on all of you to ensure that this great university is sustained for the present and future generations.
And now, by the powers vested in me as Chancellor of this great university, I hereby constitute this assembly into the fifth session of the 42nd Congregation of the University of Cape Coast for the purpose of conferring degrees, diplomas and certificates.
Thank you for your attention
Sir Sam Jonah, Chancellor University Of Cape Coast
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