AU trains ambassadors across the 13 Districts of the United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe

Ambassadors in the making- The first group of ambassadors trained by AU pose for a class photo

Africa University hosted a one- day training workshop for the 13 United Methodist Church districts in Zimbabwe on the 13th of July 2019 at the university main campus to train future ambassadors who will disseminate information regarding the institution, its vision and its mission throughout the church. Among the speakers were Vice Chancellor Professor Munashe Furusa, Zimbabwe Episcopal Area Bishop Eben Nhiwatiwa and Chair of the Grounds Committee of the Africa University Board of Directors Mrs. Margaret Makadzange serving in the capacity of facilitator. Other high level dignitaries included members of the Bishops’ Cabinet and administrative staff.
Key topics that were tabled for discussion and deliberation included the history of Africa University and its close affiliation to the United Methodist Church, the intended roles that the ambassadors were to play on behalf of the university as well as testimonials from alumni who were already playing the part. The workshop which has broken new ground as the first of its kind hosted by the university was organized by the AU Office of Advancement and Public Affairs and Mrs. Makadzange.

Kicking off the high impact programme was a tour of the university that spotlighted the many infrastructural developments taking place at the university from the new students union building to the women’s hostel that is set to expand campus accommodation including the ongoing refurbishments of the existing hostels as well as the tradition of giving that has seen many of the institutions’ key building donated through the very stories that the ambassadors were on campus to learn and disseminate.
VC Prof. Furusa in his welcoming remarks commended the intentions behind the workshop in fostering ownership at all levels of the UMC of the Africa University story as well as the alumni who came out in their numbers to assume this new role alluding to them as beacons of hope and promise.

Bishop Eben Nhiwatiwa in his presentation highlighted that servant leadership, unwavering courage and belief formed the bedrock of a good ambassador and encouraged the future ambassadors to imbue themselves with these qualities. He delved into the rich history of the founding of the university in the early 1980’s and the tireless work that the founding fathers dedicated into making the dream a reality. Of particular note was the faith of not only the first students but also of the staff of whom Bishop Nhiwatiwa was a member when the institution offered Theology and Agriculture fondly remembering, “Our first group of students arrived when Africa University had very little infrastructure and was situated in a bush! But in to their eyes, what they saw was a university. That is what you call faith!”

In his presentation, VC Prof. Furusa made special note of the legacy of strong leadership and passion that the institution has been blessed with since its founding. He said, “At Africa University, God is doing a new thing and reconstituting and reconstructing the relationship between Africa University and the church. Ambassadors are an integral element in the growth of any organization or entity as they are the champions of its cause.” He went on to encourage the ambassadors to develop a vocabulary that best markets the university and the need to understand and know the brand so as to advocate the work that is being done.

The Chairperson of the Grounds Committee Mrs. Margaret Makadzange applauded each of the 13 districts (Chitma, Murehwa, Harare Central, Chipinge/Chimanimani, Mutare District, Harare West, Makoni/Buhera, Mutoko/Mudzi, Bulawayo/Midlands, Masvingo, Harare East, Mutasa/Nyanga) for their commitment and belief in Africa University. She said, “There is so much work that has been done and there is far more that we still have to do. Once you fall in love with Africa University, it is difficult to stop talking about it! I want to thank Bishop Nhiwatiwa for always supporting us and our initiatives to spread the word and this workshop has been possible through his support.” Speaking to the ambassadors she said, “Now you are empowered and emboldened to speak to what we are doing here at Africa University. Know that the institution is here to support you. Your training does not end here and this is just the beginning.”

Riveting testimonials from alumni Reverend S. Mawoyo and District Superintendent G. Risinamhodzi inspired those in attendance as through their mission they made it imperative to touch base with the university and the opportunities that it has to offer people from diverse backgrounds.

Africa University already has in place robust training programmes for its students and staff that encourage stewardship and passion for the university and that also extend to its alumni and various partners and stakeholders. The training of clergy in this important role is the next step in its drive for a transformed and empowered Africa that is truly inclusive in its approach.

Story by
Jeanette Dadzie
Office of Advancement and Public Affairs