Fendall – University of Liberia’s 98th Commencement Speaker, Dr. Thomas Jaye, has named bad governance, corruption, greed and external interference as vices that have undermined Africa’s transition from colonialism to democratic governance and development.
Dr. Jaye, who delivered the keynote message, provided a detailed analysis of the origin of the current socio-economic crisis, which has plagued the African continent,
“Over the years, Africa has produced mixed results with a few countries being stable while the rest have been caught in the barbed-wire of political turbulence, intra-state conflicts, electoral crisis, governance and leadership failure, economic stagnation, social decline and insecurity.”
He told the graduates that the socio-economic conditions of Africans are worsening on daily, especially Liberians since the country’s independence.
The keynote speaker blamed bad governance and leadership failure in sub-Sahara Africa as some of the reasons why African young and able-body men and women are risking their lives to cross into Europe.
Dr. Jaye said another source of the on-going socio-economic crisis has its roots in the policies of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
“These two Breton Woods institutions that were set up to promote development turned out to be barriers to development in Africa,” he said.
“The World Bank and IMF imposed strains of anti-development policies on African countries under the euphemism known as ‘structural adjustment programs (SAP).’”
He further lamented that Africa is still grappling on the tale of slavery in the 21st Century, something the orator strongly condemned.
Dr. Jaye attributed his brief overview of the world to a defining moment for graduates to appreciate the enormity of challenges confronting the world.
“Fortunately, as graduates of Lux In Tenebris and its oldest college, the Liberia College, you should be fully prepared as you walk out of this graduation hall with your heads up high with faith in a bright future,” he said.
“Our young people who are doing everything possible to cross the sea to migrate to a ‘greener pasture’ in Europe have been turned into slaves, in another African country,” he said.
“Some are sold at U$200 per person; others went through terrible ordeals including organ theft and being burned alive; and many have died while trying to cross the sea.”
He cautioned graduates to engage in adequate academic preparation, which according to him would lead to better future.
Dr. Jaye who is the Director of the Policy Support and Consultancy Services Unit at the Kofi Annan International Peace Training Center in Teshia, Accra, Ghana.
For her part, UL President Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks, who is presiding over her first commencement, said the 98th graduation ceremony, was unique on grounds that the UL was putting out its largest class under her administration as president.
Dr. Weeks was inducted into office on September 13, 2017 as the second female president of the University of Liberia.
“Today is a unique day, unique in a variety of reasons,” Dr. Weeks emphasized.
“It’s unique for me; it’s unique for you and it’s unique for the University of Liberia in that this is the largest overall class that will be graduating from the University of Liberia. Overall, in that there are over 3,400 students that will be graduating,” Dr. Weeks said.
She also said the commencement was unique for Liberia College because 606 students were graduating from the college.
“As your Dean indicated, the first graduate in 1866 from Liberia College was one person. And for 50 years the largest number of people that graduated from Liberia College was 11."
"The first female that graduated from Liberia College graduated in 1905, when we had the largest class over that 50-year period. This year, out of 606 graduates 401 are females. And so for me that is fantastic!”
She told the graduates that the University of Liberia is the flagship university in Liberia and should not be downplayed.
“It is the best university in Liberia--don’t allow anybody tell you anything else. If you go anywhere in the world the largest number of people who have graduated from university in Liberia will be from the University of Liberia.
“When we go elsewhere for advanced studies, we always excel. So, I want you to continue to keep in your mind, as you go your various ways that you’ve come from a great university; wear that banner with pride. Wear it proudly,” she said.
At the same time, Mohamed Sesay, the class salutatorian from the Department of Mass Communications, stressed that in spite of several challenges faced by them, the future matters most.
Student Sesay spoke on the topic: “Determination and Perseverance in Pursuit of Academic Excellence, Bringing Your Focus to the Past, Present and Making a Chance for the Future.”
According to him, it was now time that principle learnt during their struggle for higher education to be applied in making lives suitable for themselves.
“We faced a lot of challenges at the beginning of the journey, and we will face challenges as we go into the future, but what will matter is how we apply the principles of life learned in the walls of this great university,” he told his fellow graduates.
Meanwhile, the Dean of Liberia College at the University of Liberia, Professor Sekou W. Konneh, thanked the UL Administration for the tremendous support afforded the college over the years.
"I want to specifically thank Dr. Weeks for the many support you’ve given Liberia College over the years. I want to recognize the support of the entire University family, including Vice Presidents and my own boss, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr Williams Ezra Allen. To our graduates, I say well done you have fulfilled your historic mission—yes indeed you have!”