On June 23, 2011, ALA celebrated its second class of graduates. Anthony Kaguara, the Valedictorian for this year’s graduating class, referred to his classmates as “the daring generation,” an apt title for a group of young leaders determined to tackle the problems of a whole continent. Africa hasn’t been faced with this determined an approach to its future since colonial times, and then it was to Africa’s detriment, whereas this group, now bound for new adventures and challenges, sees the possibilities of a bright, fulfilling future for all the continent’s one billion or more inhabitants — a very daring goal indeed for the 86 young leaders who took the podium to receive their diplomas.
Among them, there is this sense of the possible, an energy and belief that drives them to push beyond expectations, beyond barriers and constraints. From those who see the answer in new medicines and disciplines to those who seek to codify and preserve traditional values, each sees that the true worth of this continent can only be found in the hands of its own people, empowered to embrace the best of each culture and grow beyond the passive inaction caused by need. In such company, it was not easy to pick individuals for special recognition, however the academy does award four distinctions at graduation, and the following four students were selected.
The Leadership Award is given to the student in the graduating class whose leadership is a model and inspiration for the students, faculty, and staff in the African Leadership Academy community. This year it was given to Courage Matiza, from Zimbabwe, who had also spoken earlier in the day at a Leadership Symposium held on campus.
This Spirit of Africa Award is given to the graduating student whose infectious passion for the African continent resonates across the Academy community, inspiring each of us to discover and serve Africa and its people. This year it was awarded to Madia Thiam, from Senegal.
The Dean Christopher Khaemba Award for Academic Excellence is given to the student who took a wide and rigorous curriculum and whose academic results over two years personify the Academy’s value of Excellence, in the spirit of its founding Dean Christopher Khaemba. This year it was awarded to Michel Gnopo of Cote d’Iviore.
The Sani Prize is awarded to a student whose tireless effort, innovative solutions, lofty ideals, and commitment to excellence serves to further the mission, vision, and values of the Academy, in the spirit of Mr. Iliyasu Adinoyi Sani, an African pioneer and member of the inaugural ALA faculty. This year it was awarded to Lillian Maboya, from South Africa. Lillian’s blog of her experiences at ALA has regularly been featured on our website.
Wendy Luhabe, one of the most successful female business leaders in South Africa was the commencement speaker and many distinguished guests (such as Gbenga Oyebode, who is a prominent business executive in Nigeria, Chairman of Access Bank and a Board Member of MTN and noted South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka) were on campus for the events.