Hon Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning;
Chancellor of Regent University College, Rev. Dr. Kwabena Darko;
Distinguished Guest Speaker, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng; Chairman of Regent University College Council, Prof. N. N. Nsowah-Nuamah,
Hon. Members of Parliament;
Hard-working Faculty and Staff
Matriculants, Ladies and gentlemen:
It gives me great delight to welcome you all to today’s maiden matriculation ceremony, which marks the formal acceptance of our cherished students into the fold of the Regent-Ghana family as Junior Members. I am fully persuaded that your decision to be part of this vision is a decision you will never regret.
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that every generation has the challenge of making the Present better than the Past, so that coming generations will inherit a world or a land that is better than generations before it.
Unfortunately, our experience in Africa does not point to this direction. Self-acclaimed messiahs have, more often than not, proved to be “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” The injustices committed against Africans by foreign forces have been replaced by injustices perpetuated by fellow countrymen, making life miserable for most of our people as they wallow in poverty, squalor, illiteracy and disease. As one of Africa’s fine scholars rightly puts it:
“As a people, we seem to understand what our problems are; we know the kind of nation we want to have; we visualise the good life we want to enjoy on this great continent. But, unfortunately, we seem to lack the skills that will take us to the promised land. We are oftentimes bewildered, yea, confused as to how and when our salvation will come. For various reasons, our educational institutions, the citadels of enlightenment, are equally caught up in this quagmire, unable to show us the way. In frustration and bereft of hope for a good life here in our mother land, our young ones depart our shores in their numbers in search of good life and greener pastures.
“We borrowed the profit motive, but not the entrepreneurial spirit. We borrowed the acquisitive appetites of capitalism, but not the creative risk- taking. We are at home with western gadgets but are bewildered by western workshops. We wear the wristwatch but refuse to watch it for the culture of punctuality. We have learnt to parade in display, but not to drill in discipline. The West’s consumption patterns have arrived, but not necessarily the West’s technique of production” (Ali Mazrui, the Cultural Forces in World Politics).
Our situation is like the drowning man in a big river; he knows he is drowning; before him lies the bank of the river, far away. He knows that he is in trouble; he understands his problem, but he sees himself just incapable of swimming ashore.
But my people, can’t we really swim ashore afloat? We definitely can. You ask me how?
Ladies and gentlemen, bad leadership, certain cultural practices and trappings, our inability to industrialise, and our overdependence on foreign goods and services are some of the major challenges we will have to overcome as a people in order to cross over to our promised land.
For us to reach there, we will need a paradigm shift. We need a paradigm shift in:
Our Concept of Education
Certain Cultural practices
Our Understanding of True Spirituality.
For this to happen, we need clear-sighted, courageous and dedicated transformational leaders…
Leaders with a vision
Leaders with a passion for change
Leaders with courage
Leaders whose personal and selfish interests are subordinated to the collective interest.
Such leaders are both born and bred. As the African American educationist, Bennie E. Godwin, rightly said, “Although potential leaders are born, effective leaders are made.”
Ladies and gentlemen, our vision here at Regent-Ghana is to build capacity for change. Here we aim at producing not just graduates.
We are raising:
Disciples who will catch a vision for a new Ghana and a new Africa;
Disciples with a strong passion for change
We are building daring and courageous disciples who will take no for an answer.
We are building a generation of leaders who will make a difference in our generation.
Here at Regent, our philosophy of education goes beyond the individual to embrace the national and the continental. Africa as a whole has developed the wrong tradition of placing too much emphasis on Position, Power, and Pedigrees (qualifications) instead of Performance.
Ladies and gentlemen, if at the end of our academic careers all that we can hope for is to get a good grade and a good job with a fine pay, then our nation as a whole, is not likely going to benefit from our education. Here at Regent-Ghana, we believe in education for empowerment, education for national reconstruction, and educational for spiritual renewal.
We aim at producing
Purpose driven human resource committed to socio-economic development and spiritual renewal.
Our passion is to produce graduates who will see themselves as taking part in a crusade: the crusade against disease, poverty, ignorance, and filth/squalor.
We want to produce graduates who will look at the filth and squalor around us and say: “This is unacceptable!” and be moved with passion to do something about it.
We want to produce graduates who will look at the poverty around us: economic poverty, poverty of ideas, spiritual poverty, and social poverty, and say, “This is unacceptable.” As Africans, we are a people who always wait until there is a problem before we begin to look for solutions. We never plan ahead of time. We should look at all these and say: “This is unacceptable,” and be moved with passion to do something about it.
We want to produce graduates who will look at the face of the diseases afflicting our people (most of which are preventable), and say: “This is unacceptable,” and be moved with passion to do something about it.
We want to produce graduates who can look at the face of the pathological disease which we wrongly call “African Punctuality,” and say “This is unacceptable!”
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to state that it will require a radical change to turn our situation around. We need a change in our mindset, our attitudes, and our lifestyle to overcome some of our present challenges.
Some of you matriculants have been with us for a year now; others have just enrolled. No matter how long you have spent here, you must see yourself as being part of a crusade. Your training should cause you to develop discomfort for those things that have held us so far in perpetual bondage.
This will require great efforts on your part and on our part as administrators, faculty and staff. The endurance walk, the community cleaning exercise, the visits to the gym, the monthly community chapel service, the morning inspirational time with the chaplain, the lectures, the seminars, the tutorials, etc., are all geared towards preparing a new breed of graduates. Make the best use of them all.
As a nation, ladies and gentlemen, we are known to be strong on theory and ideas, but poor on implementation. Our educational system is yet to be able to successfully bridge the gap between theory and practice. We talk more and do very little. We know where we want to be (our promised land), we theorise what we think should be the way forward but have never succeeded in going beyond the hypothesis to constructively translate our theories and ideas into practical solutions. We have not succeeded in developing the skills that will translate our ideas and wishes into concrete solutions for the problems confronting us.
Here at Regent-Ghana, you will be challenged to break new grounds. Your mind will be stretched; your horizon will be broadened; your spirit will be sharpened; your conscience renewed; you will be challenged to move out of your traditional comfort zones into new territories, and I affirm “With God all things are possible.”
However, this will demand a clear vision on your part: A discomfort for the present and a vision for a new world. You will undoubtedly face obstacles, but you will have to persevere; for you are destined to win because you are on the side of good; so God is on your side. Service to God and humanity should be your motivation. At Regent you will be helped to cultivate self-discipline (the mastery of your passions, your time, and energies). You will also be helped to cultivate the discipline of waiting on God.
Dear matriculants, I started my address by stating that every generation has the challenge of making the Present better than the Past, so that the coming generations will inherit a world or a land that is better than the generations before it. It may be difficult getting the whole nation to immediately follow you, but there is one thing that you can do. You can change the world by beginning from where you are. In the lecture halls, at your places of work, at home, wherever you go, begin to have a new vision. Develop discomfort for the status quo, work towards the new world that you want to bequeath to the next generation.
The task is great; opposition is strong; our human frame is weak; but we will never forget the inexhaustible riches of God’s grace, and the greatness of His power to those of us who believe. Develop discipline, hard-work, and perseverance. Your service to God and to humanity will never be in vain.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming! Our pioneer matriculants, I salute you for your boldness in joining the winning team! You have chosen the right path, with determination and fortitude, God being on your side, you will win.
Once again, I say thank you to you all, God bless you!