I knew going back to Africa University and Mutare would bring back many memories. But, I had no idea how emotionally moved I would become to see the new and expanded AU, and hundreds of students roaming the campus.
I remembered back in 1993 when my sister dropped me off at one of the newly built dorms. The dorm overlooked a cleared ground, where the current administration building and the dining hall stand. The emptiness of the campus scared me. I shared with my sister that I was not sure whether it was a good decision to come to AU. As always, my sister smiled and said, “It will be all right.”
I can’t believe that was 20 years ago!
Today AU has grown so much, and even the little trees planted during my time on the campus have grown to incredible sizes. As I was walking around the campus I thought of my classmates and friends. I missed each moment I shared with them in a very profound way.
This time I was more grateful than ever for what AU had done for me. AU gave me a great education, a family, and a wonderful life in a country far away from home. Today, I see how special AU has been and will always be to the African continent.
Staying at the African Sun Hotel was also very special. I had no idea that the name “African Sun” would also have a huge impact on me. But it did. One morning I was looking outside my hotel window, I was astonished by the beauty of the rising sun behind the Cross Kopje. As I stared at the rising sun and the cross, I became overwhelmed with gratitude for what life has given me. I realized that the moment was spiritual. I dropped on my knees and thanked God for that special moment.
As I prayed and continued looking at the sun and the cross, I felt more hopefully that great things will happen in Africa, just like the beautiful rising African sun illuminating the cross at the hilltop. This experience helped me realize for the first time that, like the rising sun, and the cross at the hilltop; Africa University is truly the beacon of hope, peace and love for the entire world.
There is no way I will be able to repay the gift of unconditional love I have received from those who made it possible for me to attend AU. But I know that I can transmit the gift I have received to others through education. Today, I am glad that I am using my God-given gift to help others learn how to improve agricultural crops and produce more food. Thank you so much AU for giving me a chance to discover and apply my God-given talent.
* Suza was born in Tanzania and graduated from Africa University’s faculty of agriculture and natural resources in 1996. He is currently on the faculty at Iowa State University, Department of Agronomy. He shared this reflection on his visit to the AU campus in Mutare (March 22-26) for the culmination of the university’s 20th Anniversary Celebrations.