The Honourable Vice-Chancellor University of Cape Coast, President of Ashesi University, Chief Marshall, Honourable Members of the Board, Dedicated Administrative Body and Faculty, Distinguished Guests, Fellow Students, Ladies and Gentlemen. Let me once again welcome you to this special occasion, the Graduation ceremony of the pioneering class of Ashesi University.
Fellow Graduates it’s finally here, the day some of us have been looking forward to since the 22nd of February 2002 when we walked through the doors at Building one and met under the trees for our orientation. Ladies and gentlemen, even though it’s been four years in which so much has happened, I still remember that day so vividly. You should have seen us so excited, eager and full of energy; not just because we were entering a University but as we believed then and still do today that we had chosen a university that offers the best higher learning education in Ghana.
Looking back at our time it’s amazing to note that so much has occurred. We’ve met wonderful and inspiring lecturers from all over the world, dedicated staff, networked with the most successful entrepreneurs and personalities in Ghana and beyond, overcome those difficult and frustrating projects, assignments and quizzes, set milestones in Ghanaian tertiary education, and most of all shared wonderful memories, memories that bring a smile when I think about them. Fellow graduates you remember confessions, ice-cream factory, the roller coaster to Wli, the unreality of AIMS, the nitty gritties, zero divided by zero, the great fall, and so many more. Ladies and gentlemen I could go on for hours but I only have five minutes.
As we reminisce and feel proud, relieved and thrilled about completing this journey I would want us for a minute to remember those who we started the journey with but are not here today for one reason or another, Michelle Reyna, Sung Duk Na, Richmond, Richard Frimpong-Darbo, Kofi Boateng, Stephen Kane, Maame Esi Woode, Solomon Antwi, Lateef Bello, Alma Ohene-Opare and Isaac Tuggon. I wish them the best wherever they may be.
So what does it really mean to be a university graduate, a graduate in Africa, in Ghana and from Ashesi? When I was asked to deliver this speech I decided to do some research and see how others have described us. What I found was that basically people defined us simply as individuals that have earned a degree from an institution. However, I believe we are and should be more that. We can’t just be another statistic. Are we merely just going to count as part of the 11.3% of the world labour force with tertiary education or the 3% of the Ghanaian population of tertiary age in tertiary education, or are we going to join the 46.9% of Ghanaian skilled labour that migrates to the West each year?
Its my belief that as graduates in Africa we should be the ones that would transform our continent into a model of prosperity. We are no longer the typical or the average and as such we can’t do the mediocre. As Mr. Tony Gyasi told us the lack of education is a limit on one’s vision. We don’t have this constraint so fellow graduates only great things will be expected from us. The future of Ghana and Africa as a whole depend on the actions and decisions we make. If people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates who didn’t even graduate from college can build multi-billion dollar companies ask yourself why can’t I? I throw a challenge to all of us here today, that in a few years the world would be talking about how we are making significant contributions to make Africa a better place to live in.
It’s been Dr. Awuah’s dream to change the fortunes of Africa through ethical entrepreneurial leadership. We are part of that dream and as such I would like to remind all of us to most importantly be ethical in whatever we do. It’s no secret that Africa is known for its ethical short comings and corruption and bribery have become a part of life. Ladies and gentlemen you would agree with me that the road ahead for us is not an easy one. However, I believe I speak for not only the graduates here today but the entire student body when I say we are different and unique and our actions will reinforce this message. We will stand out from the rest.
Fellow graduates for years we’ve been critiquing the policies and practices in the Ghanaian economy and working world. Well, our opportunity is here now to implement and share our ideas and solutions. Remember the world is watching us closely and expecting us to live Dr. Awuah’s Dream, our dream, Africa’s dream. Whatever we do let’s do it with excellence, citizenship and scholarship for Africa is depending on us and so are generations yet to come.
Once again, on this very special day, I welcome you all to Ashesi University, where dreams become a reality.