KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY PROF. ARTHUR PETER MUTHARIKA, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLICOF MALAWI AT THE INAUGURATION OF THE FIRST CHANCELLOR FOR MALAWI UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (MUST)
This University is our living testimony that, as a nation, we can accomplish any great dream, if we think big, plan big and act decisively.
It is with innermost gratitude and pleasure that I accept to be the first Chancellor of this historic University. And I am very proud that my life, my roots and my leadership are part of this University.
I was Minister of Education when my brother and I, Bingu and I, saw a grand University on a farm where everybody had always seen maize and cattle. I was tasked by my President at the time to conceptualise this University together with four other new universities. That dream is a reality now.
This University is part of a greater vision – on a higher mission. In this place, we want to see a University that leads in scientific and technological invention and innovation in this part of Africa. This University is here to demonstrate that we Africans were the first great scientists and inventors of humankind.
After all the first university in the world was established in Africain 978AD, with thefaculties of Theology, Philosophy, Astronomy and Mathematics.
That is why this University is founded on the pan-African idea of African Renaissance. African Renaissance is the drive for self-discovery and a quest of what is great in us, and what has been great about us. That is why we made African Culture and Heritage to be part of this university of science and technology.
We need to rediscover our capabilities in science and technology. We must rediscover ourselves in the modern world of innovation, science and technology. It is my prayer that this University will have vibrant studies in history because we cannot advance into the future without knowing where we are coming from.
As we say, he who forgets the past is lost. We must understand our heritage in indigenous scientific thinking, our medicine, and technology.
In this country, our people have always had a scientific mind, and a scientific culture of inventing technologies. This is a heritage that was killed by colonialism and Western education.
Today, the rest of the world is inventing and innovating except us. We stopped inventing and innovating because we stopped believing in ourselves.
In this country, we could grow cotton, spin it and make fabric before White men came. In fact, David Livingstone bought and used the fabric of our people. The science of making cloth used to be our culture. That scientific culture died.
In the communities of Shire Highlands and beyond, we were masters in iron smelting and manufacturing.Like the Ngonde people of Karonga, weknew how to make metal, long before colonialism.
We had the scientific mind to know the right soil that had iron. We knew how to heat the soil to produce metal. This science was our culture, our way of life. While our friends modernised and advanced their science and technology, we lost our spirit.
We knew how to make guns. This technology was repressed because our colonisers did not allow natives to be powerful.
All this science and technology was part of our culture. Time remembers that we have been a productive and capable nation before. And history knows that we can advance and conquer in science and technology again. We only need to believe in ourselves.
Today, this is what I say to you my country. Let us stop feeling sorry for ourselves, and instead we must grow the nerve to believe that we are capable of achieving great things. That is the brand of citizenship universities must teach. This is the spirit of self-independence this University must teach.
Madam Vice Chancellor, I have spoken of invention, innovation and the spirit of self-dependence. I wish innovation and self-dependence were among the core values that define the spirit of this University. This is the spirit that will make us producers of technologies rather than consumers of technologies made by others. We must make Malawi a producer and exporter of technology more than an importer and consumer of technology. That is why theMalawi University of Science and Technology is here.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have all it takes to create innovation, create new technologies, make Malawi a producing nation and make this country a great nation. What we don’t have is the patriotism to believe in ourselves; the courage to believe that we can do it; and the courage to do what it takes!
We spend our precious time listening to the wrong voices who want us to believe that we are failures. I am sometimes disappointed to hear some people in this country call Malawi a failed State. A failed state cannot build roads, hospitals, universities et cetera. It is only failed minds that see a failed state. This state has not failed, and Malawi is on the verge of greatness. We are laying the foundation to solve the long standing food insecurity, water, electricity and the economy. While some see the bottle as half empty, I see it as half full.Remember: – the greatness of a nation begins with our self-belief that we can succeed, and that we can become what we want. That great nation is in us, because we are that great nation.
Americans began by believing in the American dream. TheBritish began by believing in the idea of Great Britain. The Chinese began by believing that they are the centre of the world.What is our belief?
The first nation that God established was founded on a simple belief: In a scorching desert of sand and rocks; confronted by enemies and challenges in every direction, God told the Jews that this is the Promised Land, and “I will make you into a great nation.” (Genesis 12:2) They believed in becoming a great nation. Today, Israel is a small country but a great nation of great achievers.
The making of a great nation begins with a simple idea, a belief. The University is the champion of ideas. Lead us to believe that we are a capable country. Show us – that Malawi can lead in innovation, science and technology.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me conclude by returning to my place in the University.
By design, and by their nature, universities are governed on the principle of autonomy in any democracy. We cherish the autonomyof the university because no one wants to return to the previous oneparty dictatorship when Government micromanaged the University and interfered with its affairs every day.
The University is run by the Law. And by law, the functions of the Chancellor are (1) to preside over congregations of the University and (2) to confer degrees, diplomas and certificates of the University. On the other hand, the University Council is by Law the principal academic and administrative body of the University, and their powers and functions are prescribed in the Law.
As your Head of State, yourChancellor and Head of this University, my overall duty is to guide thevision and strategic direction of the University.And this is what I am doing as I stand before you.
By extension, my duty is also to ensure that the University has sound leadership to manage the affairs of the University on behalf of Government. The University Council and its Management make the day to day decisions for running the University. And we must all take responsibility of the decisions we make.
As Head of State and Chancellor, I take the responsibility of being the ultimate authority of appeal when all decision-making structures have failed. The only decision you take to the Head of State is the decision you cannot make. The only problem you take to the President is the problem you cannot solve.
We have complete confidence in the governance structures of the University. We trust the University Council, the University Management; we trust our Directors, Deans and Professors who make decisions to run the universities every day.
Together, we have the power to make this University great. Together, we have the power to make this Nation great. As wechoose to believe that we are a capable nation, let us trust that we can rise. We are the people to make this happen! And we will make it happen!
May God bless our country!
And God bless you all!