By Mamawa Sombo Richards, Info. Attaché, SLE, Liberia…..
Cuttington University School of Graduate and Professional Studies at its graduation ceremony in Gbarnga, Bong County, Liberia, conferred the Doctor’s degree of Humane Letters (LHD) on the Rt. Hon. Sidie M. Tunis.
Delivering his Keynote address at the 14th Commencement Convocation of the Cuttington University School of Graduate and Professional Studies, Rt. Hon. Sidie M. Tunis conveyed greetings from His Excellency Dr Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone to the Government and people of Liberia.
Hon. Tunis recalled his experience during his days at Cuttington University, stating that the day was indeed a day of mixed emotions; a day that was full of good and bad experiences, and therefore, the graduates had every reason to be most proud of their achievements gained at a time when the world is wrestling with the global COVID-19 pandemic, economic recession, conflicts, and altered ways of life and livelihoods.
He heartily congratulated the Cuttington University “Kwageh”, Class of 2020. “Kwageh” means We have done it. Inspiring the graduands, the Rt. Hon. Sidie M. Tunis quoted “David Brooks” saying: “Almost every successful person begins with two beliefs: the future can be better than the present, and I have the power to make it.”
He added that they have demonstrated the belief that the future is better than the present, and that they have the power to make the future better.
The Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament went further to explain the pivotal role Cuttington University played in his entire life journey, especially in shaping his achievements.
According to him, he attended Cuttington University in the 80s and graduated in 1989. Apart from the Academic qualifications he attained, Speaker Tunis also acquired knowledge in several other disciplines essential for his progress.
“Respect for diversity, commitment to sense of purpose, teamwork, learning to be independent, were few of the skills acquired,” he said.
He reiterated that because of acquiring those priceless virtues, he proudly rose to positions of prominence, becoming the Majority Leader of the Fifth Parliament of Sierra Leone and currently Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament.
He reminded the graduates that they were special, and they should not forget they are *Scorpions*. He challenged them as a *Senior Scorpion* to not only be Ambassadors of change but also touch bearers of Cuttington’s enviable legacy.
Speaker Tunis was surprised to learn of the unique inter-relationship between Cuttington University and the ECOWAS Parliament. “On 29th June 2018, His Excellency Dr George Manneh Weah, a former ranking member of the ECOWAS Parliament, served as their commencement speaker and he was conferred an Honorary Doctorate Degree. Today, Rt. Hon. Sidie M. Tunis, Speaker has also been conferred a similar honour whilst serving as Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament. History, they say, is full of coincidences, but fewer coincidences are better,” he stated.
He continued by saying that the new Africa will be led by young, innovative and enterprising persons like the new graduates, adding that they have the obligation to control the new economic scramble for Africa by ensuring they actively participate in the global economy.
Speaker Tunis expressed his heartfelt appreciation to Dr Herman B. Browne, President of Cuttington University, for the kind sentiments expressed, and more importantly, commended him for his unflinching commitment exhibited through his long and successful tenure as a Prelate, Educator and Administrator.
He went on to thank Members of the Board of Trustees, Faculty and Staff, Government Officials and all other interlocutors for their various contributions towards this event, adding that the organisation and ambience are reflective of the success attained when people work together.
In his closing, the Rt. Hon. Sidie Tunis quoted the words of Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the Harvard Afternoon Exercises on 26 May 2011 saying, “The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough. If you start off with a small dream, you may not have much left when it is fulfilled.”
He encouraged the graduating Class of 2019/2020 to dream big and hold on to their values, maintained that they should not let the opinion of others define them or stop them from achieving their goals.
He concluded by stating that as they embark on the next phase of their professional development, they should not be judgemental and quick to expressing opinions about other people, and they should hold on to their values, and not lose them.
The President of Cuttington University Dr Herman Brown on behalf of the University thanked the Rt. Hon. Speaker for his hard work and his service to humanity.
The Rt. Hon. Speaker was accompanied by a Delegation of Honorable Members of the ECOWAS Parliament and few Staff members.
©Mamawa Sombo Richards
Information Attaché, Sierra Leone Embassy, Monrovia, Liberia.