#Pause: On the road

#Pause: On the road

__Sharing words from Africa with a future generation of global leaders

This weekend I have the great honor of addressing the International Relations and Global Studies Program at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, USA as they receive their university diplomas at the 2019 commencement exercises.

Their graduation ceremony will take place at the Sir Christopher Wren Building, the #1 oldest educational building in the whole of the USA, and considered a landmark historic building. Within the very same walls where I will stand, young students will have been learning continuously since 1693, when the university was founded… Yes, 300+ years ago!

You’ll be amazed at some of the historic alumni who studied at this College: Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, John Tyler and George Washington (who got his surveyor’s license there in 1749 at 17 years of age)…. What do they all have in common? Yes, these four students became Presidents of the United States! But there are many many more who I am sure will interest some of you.

Have you heard the expression: “If the walls could talk…”? Imagine!

__Who can imagine what professors 300 years ago might have been teaching their students within those walls?

Do you think the words “entrepreneurship” and “innovation” had even been invented yet?

When the President of William & Mary College, Katherine A. Rowe, wrote me earlier this year to invite me to deliver the commencement address to these global thinkers, she mentioned to me that leaders including presidents, secretaries of state and defense, and other leaders from government, not-for-profits and business had all been educated at the William & Mary College over the centuries.

You will be interested to know the College has an excellent Center for African Development and houses the Global Research Institute, a hub that brings together students, academics and practitioners to apply research to real world issues. You can Google it yourself but you’ll see its forward-looking classes include Artificial Intelligence, machine learning (etc) and of course, one of my favorite subjects… economics!

Maybe some of you have even been there? If so, please share your stories.

Later on I will share my commencement address with all of you here on the platform. This is not my first such opportunity to speak to graduating students at an American university. Each and every time it is a huge inspiration to me, to meet these young people and their professors too, with global vision and so much talent and ambition to transform their societies, and sometimes the whole world.

Now at such important moments, speakers are often expected to share our own experiences and sometimes “Words of wisdom” with young people as they set forth on new journeys, diplomas in hand.

If you were giving such an address to young university graduates today, what stories or wisdom would you share, from your own experience? (Even if you don’t have a high school/matric diploma, I promise you, you have important wisdom to share).

I’m listening.

Let’s talk!


Author:Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and Executive Chairman of the Econet Group. He serves on several international boards including Unilever, and the Global Advisory boards of the Council on Foreign Relations and Stanford University. A board member of the Rockefeller Foundation for 15 years, he also serves as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He is a co-founder of the Carbon War Room, Pathways for Prosperity, and the Global Business Coalition on Education. He and his wife, Tsitsi, co-founded the Higherlife Foundation and are signators of the Giving Pledge.

6 Replies to “#Pause: On the road”

  1. Afterthought 1.

    “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” Former UN Secretary-General and my late dear friend, Kofi Annan

  2. Afterthought 3.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” William & Mary College alumni, Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence.

  3. Blessed Emmanuel Amukun writes,

    Mine will be simple: The race is not for the swift neither victory for the mighty, but chance and opportunity happens to all!(from the Bible) There is no such a thing as useless education, all education is useful. However, self-education is the most important of all! University education is not the end but the beginning of real education, don’t allow to be confined to it’s limitations or to the definition of what is possible or impossible. Dare to fail while trying hard to solve a problem, because out there failure is more rewarded than success, as long as you don’t give up. Don’t let your qualifications get in the way of your learning. Above all, trust completely in God because only He has good plans for your.


    My reply,
    I’m going to include your comment in my speech today!
    Your Godly wisdom has made room for you, and it shall yet do more for you!
    Thank you.

  4. Tom writes,

    Strive Masiyiwa thought provoking, indeed. Someone once said that potential is everything. I believe there are many Uber-like success stories in Africa. This year, about 30M people will be looking for unemployment on the continent. And so I’m really excited about the opportunity to help some these ones see the potential value of their ideas through the first-ever Student Entrepreneurship Week Pan Africa (studententrepreneurshipweek.com)

    My reply,
    This is how Africa will create the environment to release its own “Ubers”!

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