Colourful, vibrant and alive with possibility. This was the WITS University graduation ceremony that I recently attended. There were responses both formal and informal that could best be described as, ‘only in Africa’. There was joy, celebration, humour and a light touch of somberness. It was all just right. It was a window of hope into the future of bright young minds filled with promise. May there be many, many more.

Education is the most critical undercurrent in our future as a country and as a continent. It will determine whether or not we realise our rich potential or not. The quality of today’s education will decide tomorrow’s context. It is that simple, it is that complex. I have done enough work in education to know that it is here that one finds the best and worse of conditions, attitudes and skills. The best ignites hope and the worse brings despair. Educators above all need to respond to a sense of vocation. If that is not your motivator as an educator then it is best you leave your profession…now. In countries such as South Africa and India, countries with the gift of bloated youth populations, the future is predicated on our ability to provide this segment of who we are with a relevant and competitive education. Failure to do so is not worth contemplating!

In the sea of colour and optimism that is the graduation ceremony sits both opportunity and threat: opportunity that will see potential realised and the threat that it won’t. This is a start not the end. I hope those with the smiles and their degrees safety tucked away see it that way. I’m sure they do.

Yes, I’m grateful to be here, to be African. I’m grateful that my beautiful daughter takes her place today as she is conferred with her Masters. So proud…but of course this is simply my job description as a dad! Every dad knows that! I am grateful for the unsung heroes who’s vision and sacrifice has brought us all to this point. Thank you.

Yebo yes, we need many more such occasions in our Beloved Country!

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