Strive Masiyiwa – Zimbabwe’s richest man and foremost telecommunications tycoon – has taken yet another step in his charitable activities, by putting up the funds for 10 African students to gain an education at Morehouse College, Atlanta, US. The 10 exceptionally talented and driven students will receive a scholarship for a full four-year degree course in various subjects.
Masiyiwa and his wife, TsiTsi, have long been committed to providing help to the community, having set up Zimbabwean registered Christian charitable organisation the Capernaum Trust, which both funds and organises scholarships and medical help for orphaned children. The Trust currently helps over 28,000 orphans in Zimbabwe. However Masiyiwa has now taken the Trust to the next level, devoting a slice of his income – amounting to $6.4 million – to funding four-year scholarships for ten orphaned or disadvantaged students to go and gain a higher-education in the US.
The scholarship program is to be known as the Ambassador Andrew Young International Scholars programme, and will see devoted and academically able students from Africa brought to Morehouse for their studies, during which time they will be placed in a college dormitory sharing a room with an US-citizen local student. In this way the programme hopes not only to provide an academic training to the students, but it is intended that all the students involved will gain a knowledge and understanding of other cultures through personal contact within the college.
Selection for admission to the college and the scholarship programme has already taken place for this year, with the first class of Ambassador Andrew Young International Scholars to begin their studies this autumn. The first criterion for selection is the commitment to returning to Africa on completion of studies, in order to implement the knowledge gained for the bettering of African communities.
One of the selected students to start his studies this year is Nigena Hamim, from Burundi. He spoke out as to the importance he places on returning to his country after he has successfully completed his Morehouse education, saying: “I have a dream of fighting ethnic divisions in my country and I am encouraged to realize my vision…After all, I believe that I was born at a time like this to serve and develop my community.”
Another student, Abel Gumbo from Zimbabwe, will be studying for an undergraduate computer science degree at Morehouse College. He voiced his expectations as to what he hopes to achieve in flying so far from his homeland in order to gain an education: “I expect Morehouse to help me become the agent of positive change in the community and in people’s lives”.
During the selection process, applicants were narrowed down to a short-list of 20 students. Morehouse College’s vice president for student services William Bynum and dean of admissions Kevin Williams then flew out to Zimbabwe to host a personal and challenging set of interviews. Following these interviews the final ten students to be accepted on to the course were chosen. The final list sees eight Zimbabwean students and two students from Burundi become part of the Morehouse fraternity; all the students are orphaned or come from disadvantaged single-parent families. Many of them are national top-scorers in their educational achievements to date.