The Gambian Chapter of the KNUST Alumni Association has been launched. The colourful ceremony which was held at the Paradise Suites Conference Hall in Banjul, the capital of the Gambia, on the 6th of December, 2015 was attended by alumni, sponsors, parents and guardians of alumni, corporate organisations, representatives of institutions, the media and prospective students.
Dr. Kwame Saarah Mensah, Chairman of the Governing Council, in his welcome address charged alumni to be grateful to the alma mater for the opportunity they had to pass through the walls of KNUST, one of the best institutions of higher learning. He said the alumni were the University’s ambassadors adding, “You have to let the world know the change in your lives after attending KNUST and to demonstrate that you have built your capacities for the socio-economic development of your county.”
He said having pursued various courses of study and passing the relevant examinations, they were awarded various degrees and certificates which entitled them to very good jobs. He said KNUST, since its attainment of University status in 1961, had produced men and women who had risen to the pinnacle of their careers and continued to offer invaluable services across the globe to improve the lives of mankind, citing the former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan among others. He paid glowing tribute to all alumni who continued to make KNUST and the world proud.
Dr. Saarah Mensah advised the alumni that their qualifications were not the only guarantees of success. He said a number of people believed that their qualifications entitled them to very good living, however, they should realize that the world does not owe us anything. He further observed that several years ago, the credentials one had mattered but currently what mattered was the ability to make things happen adding, “If you can get things done, it will be your greatest asset and you will have the opportunity to overtake those who are stuck in the world of credentials.
The Chairman of Council therefore encouraged the alumni that the key ability to apply their intelligence to implement things coupled with hard work and a good attitude would guarantee them success. He noted, “Having a qualification is not enough. Your actions today will determine your future. Desiring success is also not a guarantee that success would be attained but you must work for it.”
He called on all alumni to realise that people are judged on the basis of their character, but not on their achievements alone, meaning that it was not enough to be competent but to be men or women of character. He explained that lifestyles spoke more eloquently than words and, therefore, they should work hard especially on their weaknesses. He said that change, commitment to personal growth, competence and character were necessary if dreams, visions and ideas were to become realities. He advised them not to wait for opportunities to present themselves which may be too late. He asked them to be thankful to God and to acknowledge and seek him in all areas of their lives for guidance, blessings and protection.
Professor William Otoo Ellis, the Vice-Chancellor, stated that since the establishment of the university, KNUST had worked hard to implement the vision of the founding fathers which is to advance knowledge in science and technology for sustainable development in Africa. He said the institution had worked hard to support human resource development and capacity building of several Africans including Nigerians, Gambians, Togolese, Senegalese, Burkinabes, Cameroonians, Gabonese, Malians and Ivorians.
He added that other countries whose citizens had benefitted from training at KNUST were Angola, Kenya, Equatorial Guinea, Niger, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Rwanda, Uganda and recently Southern Sudan. He explained that the mission statement of KNUST is to provide an environment which facilitates research, teaching, community service and entrepreneurship promotion. These four key elements form the core mandate of most universities of the world including KNUST. Beyond these elements, however, there were other critical components of importance to higher educational institutions which were international in nature.
Prof. Ellis further stated that these components included the student and the graduate. He observed that generally, universities were known internationally for the output of their research and their research uptake results and their graduates or alumni. The alumni, he noted, were the ambassadors that the university puts out into the African and international communities. He said KNUST placed much premium and was proud of its alumni because they were the reflection of the capabilities and capacities of the university. He added, “On behalf of the governing council, and on my own behalf, I want to say we are very proud of you for your achievements and we say congratulations.”
He revealed that to give more prominence to the alumni, the University had initiated several processes including a review of the guidelines for the award of honorary awards or degrees to create a defined section for the alumni. The review was intended to recognise alumni across the world who had distinguished themselves in service to the university and society at large. He reminded them that the alumnus had responsibilities to the alma mater besides being ambassadors. He continued that the alumni had the duty to support the university with their resources or finances, assist in student recruitment and, generally to make the existence of the university known.
He informed them that currently, there was information on the University’s website on the KNUST Foundation and appealed to all alumni to contribute to the foundation by paying into the fund through visa and master cards. He remarked that having attended an international university, they were not just any graduates but international graduates and must take advantage to network with other members of the global association for enterprise development. He said joining the alumni association provided an international and a big platform which alumni should utilize.
Mrs. Juka Fatou Jabang, a public sector management and government consultant and trainer, the Special Guest of Honour, launched the Gambian Chapter. She stated that Ghana and Gambia had coexisted and had always enjoyed cordial relationship, friendship and a peaceful political, social and economic association over the years.
Mrs. Juka Fatou Jabang stated that Gambia and Ghana had enjoyed mutual capacity building initiatives. She reminded the audience that Ghana had served as a trailblazer on the African continent in many respects and the Gambia had benefitted from Ghana immensely and cherished the friendship. She explained that at the dawn of independence, Gambian political leaders were given the chance to maximize their potential in Ghana and Ghana opened her doors in the spirit of African brotherhood and warmly welcomed the Gambians, and Gambia would forever remain very grateful.
She further asserted that universities all over the world attached importance to their alumni and the high-powered representation from KNUST reflected the importance the university attached to the event. She praised KNUST and the efforts of Ghana’s institutions in building the human resource base of the Gambia, Africa and the world at large. She reiterated the essence of alumni associations to display pride and genuine esteem for their alma mater. Mrs. Fatou Jabang advised alumni to use the association to connect, grow, develop, and network in academic and professional circles in their career developments. She declared the Gambian Chapter of the KNUST Alumni Association duly launched.
She was presented with a plaque and KNUST souvenirs in appreciation for her contribution to capacity building and to the university. Institutions such as the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) and Edward Francis Small Hospital were given awards for training most of their staff at KNUST.
The interim executives who will oversee the activities of the association in the Gambia are Ebrima Sanyang, Momodou K. Cham and Dr. Demba Trawally. They were congratulated by the dignitaries and Harriet Kingsley Annan, the Global Secretary.
Early this year, the Lagos and Port Harcourt Chapters were launched in Nigeria in addition to existing chapters in North America and Australia.