Ubuntu Spirit Defines This Moment for AU

May 18, 2020 - Nashville, TN— In the eight weeks since authorities instituted COVID-19-related stay-at-home orders in Zimbabwe, ubuntu—a core value of community life at Africa University—has been central to the actions of the institution and its students, faculty, and staff.

Ubuntu is a Zulu word that is often translated as “humanity” or “I am because we are”. However, in a deeper sense, ubuntu speaks to our interconnectedness as human beings and responsibility to and for each other.

As the global health crisis evolves, the ubuntu spirit is alive at Africa University.

Supporting the faculty and staff: 

The expertise, creativity, and “can do” attitude of its staff are helping the Africa University to function,  adapt, and move to the next level in a time of crisis.

Since most of its employees and students are based at home right now, Africa University has negotiated more affordable data bundles with providers. The university is also providing access to broadband internet under a partnership with other universities and the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education (ZIMCHE).

Examinations are being administered online, while administrators plan for a hybrid approach to instruction when the new academic year begins in August 2020. Teams are manufacturing hand sanitizer and face masks. The University Farm is using an App, developed in-house, for home delivery of its products. Students are assisting vulnerable families in the wider community.

These initiatives are all being supported by a core group of staff who serve in essential roles. For the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Munashe Furusa, the ongoing contributions of the staff are crucial to the future of Africa University.

"Institutions that survive are those that manage to adapt to the changing environment and innovate in the process,” said Furusa. “This is the approach we have taken, and we are proud of our staff who have answered to this call to keep the community engaged, well-fed, safe, connected and thriving, in spite of COVID-19.”

In Zimbabwe, as elsewhere, the pandemic and the measures instituted to fight it are challenging for many residents. Food and other day-to-day essentials are in short supply and prices are rising. In reponse, Africa University is instituting welfare measures for its staff. Last week, staff received food hampers comprised of basic items such as flour, sugar, salt, cooking oil, juice concentrate, tooth paste and soap. Staff are accessing other staples including meat, poultry, eggs, milk/yogurt, and fresh vegetables from the university farm.

Students volunteer to make reuseable masks:

International students who are still residing on the Africa University campus due to travel restrictions are making reusable cloth masks for the community. The students volunteered to make the masks following a recent directive from Zimbabwean health authorities requiring everyone to wear a mask in public.

“This situation of coronavirus is very serious, so we have to do what we can to minimize the infections,” said Maik Kat Musans Benedicte, a United Methodist pastor from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“My work is to aid people…even as a student, I am there to aid people,” said Maik.

The students are producing more than 100 masks per day.  They plan to distribute the masks to the campus community at a cost .50 cents each and invest the income in materials to continue production.

This week’s Gratitude and Graduation video reflection features Nyasha Makuni, an accounting major from Zimbabwe, who says she is equipped and ready to soar as a business professional. Use this link to view Nyasha's video.