At its inception, many doubted that the dream could be realized. Yet, in February 2012, Africa University launched a year-long celebration of its 20th anniversary. It has quite a story to tell.
“We serve a faithful God,” says Dr. Fanuel Tagwira, vice chancellor. “As we now celebrate 20 years of existence, we can say ‘Ebenezer’, for this far the Lord has taken us. He will surely take us further because we serve a God who finishes what he starts.”
Recalling the challenges the University faced during Zimbabwe’s economic crisis in 2008-2009, Tagwira noted that “God was on our side…other universities, primary and secondary schools, and hospitals closed, but Africa University students never lost a day of classes.” For this, Tagwira offered his thanks to The United Methodist Church for its responsiveness and unwavering support.
In 2011, the North Georgia Conference was one of twenty-seven annual conferences that paid 100 percent of their apportioned share of funding to Africa University. The University is profoundly grateful to the leadership and local congregations of the Conference for their generous apportionment contribution of 118%to the Africa University Fund.
Enrollment at Africa University is at an all-time high. The current total population of 1634 students is 42% higher than it was for the 2010-11 academic year. There are 23 African countries represented in the student body. At Africa University, male and female students are almost evenly balanced—something that bodes well for increasing the participation of women in decision-making and leadership roles in Africa.
New programs are helping Africa University to grow and remain relevant to community needs across the continent. New academic offerings include undergraduate degree programs in Computer Science and Laboratory Science as well as graduate degree programs in Child and Family Studies, and Public Policy and Governance.
The University is preparing to launch online distance learning. Online training options will focus on areas such as practical theology, health, and business. The initial target countries for Africa University’s online distance learning outreach are Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.
In June 2011, 349 students from 19 African countries graduated. The graduating class was comprised of 69 graduate students receiving master’s degrees, and 280 undergraduate students receiving bachelor’s degrees. The Class of 2011 swelled the ranks of Africa University graduates to more than 4,000 since first opening its doors in March 1992.
In their home countries, graduates are addressing critical issues of hunger, poverty, disease, lack of knowledge, and conflict, all of which prevent millions of people in Africa from enjoying God’s promise of abundance (John 10:10; Jeremiah 29:11).
At 20, Africa University is part of a crucial feeder system for nurturing a new generation of principled leaders in Africa as evidenced by the number of graduates who are evangelists, pastors, lecturers and administrators of schools, seminaries and universities.
“Many believe that Africa University, voted into being by the 1988 General Conference, is the most exciting ministry that The United Methodist Church has ever founded,” says Tagwira. “It is a model of connection; shared responsibility; and best of all; it is a tangible witness to how United Methodists live out the Word of God in a chaotic and self-centered world.”
This year, encourage your church to give 100 percent of its Africa University Fund apportionment. The Africa University Fund supports day-to-day operations. Your support helps young people acquire the tools and skills to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, heal communities, enable dignified living, and foster hope. Thank you for believing in and supporting Africa University.