The President of Ashesi, members of the donor community, distinguished guests, faculty, staff and students, Class of 2006, ladies and gentlemen. It is an honour to be chosen to speak today for my class about what Ashesi has done with us and for us.
We would like to say thank you to our donor community whose seeds of sacrifice have indeed borne fruits in all of us. To our parents and guardians, we truly appreciate the investments you have made in us. To all staff and faculty members, your support has been priceless.
A member of the Class of 2006 describes the Class as "one big dysfunctional family with the most amazing chemistry." Each person is so distinctive and unique with a story to tell and a thought to share, like patterns in kente cloth. Different but complementary, individually weft, yet bound so tightly that the overall pattern utterly delights the viewer. As a class, our most defining characteristics is our unity. Special thanks to Ashesi’s stellar admissions team that chose to put this group together.
The past four years have been critical in defining who we are and where we move on from here. When we first arrived at Ashesi, it was very small, with room for exploration, discovery and creativity, and a culture that was beginning to be defined. Ashesi gave us a palette, some brushes and a blank canvas and said “paint, create!” But not without the rule book to guide us and keep the radicals and ex convicts in check.
As a result, many on campus organizations were spearheaded by the Class of 2006. Organizations like Junior Achievement, African Renaissance Movement and Students in Software Development were started by the 2006 Class members. The important traffic light project that gained Ashesi much attention was also the genius of the computer science Class of 2006. Currently, Ghana’s first online payment system iWallet, similar to Paypal is being developed by members of the Class.
We came to Ashesi to go through a process of learning. This unique process equipped all of us with the tools we needed to cause the much needed change or revolution in our society. We have been trained to be entrepreneurial in our thoughts and actions. Additionally, our education has helped us to be initiators of positive things in our society. We have been adorned with the three strong pillars of Ashesi; Scholarship, Leadership and Citizenship without which no society can stand. Needless to say, we are the fortunate minority in Ghana and perhaps Africa to be lavished with such wonderful pearls. These are what Ashesi has given us.
Within our first year at Ashesi, we all became mathematicians and statisticians, armed with calculators and the Philosophy of Prof. Anku, “you eat mathematics, drink mathematics and sleep mathematics”. Although I suspect the class enjoyed better eating and drinking his wife’s tasty muffins and ice tea.
Courses like Social Inquiry produce political activists and led to the formation of Ghana’s next political party, now a humble club called the African Renaissance Movement.
Microeconomics taught us how we could combine yams and tomatoes in order to put Wazizi on the utility curve which gave him the highest satisfaction. We learnt that “cash is king” and that there is no substitute for learning and so we must read and read more. We saw that dreaming is free and so we could change Africa just by dreaming and daring.
We stood together through the Computer Science tsunami which sent some CS students fleeing to the BA class for shelter. We reflected on leadership, citizenship, scholarship, giving back to the community through community service. We truly are “the suggested panacea to Ghana’s seeming flaws.”
Not all the memories bring back laughter though. We shed some tears as death recently took the sweet, intelligent and inspiring Dr. Princess Awoonor-Williams, who was a friend, a lecturer, a mother and a mentor away. Dr. wherever you are, we hope we did you proud.
Ashesi has given us so much. It has passed through us, molded and nurtured us. The faculty have not only taught us, but been role models for us. They live what they preach. Ashesi is a place where people go beyond duty. They are simply phenomenal. To this class, meeting a man like Dr. Patrick Awuah has had the most profound effect on us. I would like to borrow someone’s words and say “he is a man who sees around bends.”
In the words of a Philosopher of ancient Rome, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” We have come to the end of one beginning today with high hopes for a new beginning. We begun this journey as babies filled with hopes, ideals and dreams and now, we leave as adults with skill, confidence and drive to harness those dreams and bring them alive. We have come this far by the grace of God, who has ordered our steps. To look at our happy faces today, all you see is hope, eagerness and satisfaction. Yet, we are also apprehensive, wondering if the world is ready for the charge which we carry.
Our charge as a class is to ensure that the new Africa we have seen in our hearts is seen on the ground. To this cause, we commit the rest of our lives. In spite of our fears, we have a strong commitment to stay focused and to achieve this dream.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are fully aware of the challenges that lie ahead of us. We are aware of the old systems of thinking which we need to face. We are aware of the intense battles our continent is in today. We are aware of the enormity of the task which lies before us and we are ready to take it in our stride.
Before I end this however, let us take a short list of the achievements of the class of 2006 so far:
- All of us went on internships with reputable companies
- We developed the intelligent traffic light
- Two of us were exchange students in Rome
- We have created an up and coming political party
- At least three businesses were started and are being run by our class
- Last but not the least, we have one okro farmer in our midst
This is just the beginning. We hope we have left footprints within the soil of Ashesi just as Ashesi has left footprints in our hearts. Thank you.