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Pieces of the Dream: AU on Stage at GC2012

By Vicki Brown*

The Rev. Guy Mande Muyombo told General Conference 2012 delegates that he is just one piece of the dream that is Africa University, a dream made possible by the gifts and prayers of the people of The United Methodist Church. 

The university in Old Mutare, Zimbabwe, celebrates it twentieth anniversary this year, and Muyombo said he stands to represent those graduates in saying thank you to the United Methodist Church. The celebration of the ministry Sunday night included a performance by 15 members of the AU choir of the university's anthem, "The Dream is Alive," and the screening a new video, Pieces of the Dream, featuring the stories of graduates and the United Methodist churches that help support Africa University with apportionment dollars and scholarship support.

"The prayers and gifts of the people called United Methodists, given to build and support Africa University, have changed my life and those of many thousands young men and women in Africa who are answering the call to service. . . to heal, to teach, to preach. . . . to build a brighter future for their nations," said Muyombo, who is a clergy delegate to General Conference representing the North Katanga area of the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

"Thank you for living out a powerful and transforming gospel in a ministry called Africa University. I am the return on your investment," Muyombo said. Muyombo, a graduate of both the Faculty of Theology, and the Institute of Peace, Leadership, and Governance, now serves as the head of the Kamina Methodist University in the North Katanga area.

Jim Salley, associate vice chancellor for Institutional Development for Africa University, said that the way to know if an institution is successful or not is to look its graduates.

"As we celebrate the first 20 years of the Africa University ministry, we have only to look around us at this General Conference gathering to witness Africa University's tremendous impact for ourselves. More than 60 graduates have been present at some part of this General Conference. Some of them have been delegates, some have served as translators," Salley said. 

Salley spoke of how more than 20 years ago, Bishop Emilio de Carvalho of Angola and Bishop Arthur Kulah of Liberia challenged the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, asking why there were universities and colleges all over the world started by United Methodists, but none in Africa.

F. Thomas Trotter, general secretary of the board, and Bishop Herbert Skeet, president, began working with The United Methodist Church to start that university.

Now, Salley said, there are 1,700 students from 27 countries, and graduates are serving in more than 38 countries "that we know of," Salley said.

The DVD that debuted at General Conference featured Ana Maria Carvalho, a 1999 graduate who is now an operations officer for the World Bank Angola, who spoke about how her work makes a difference.

“Small as it is, every day we make a difference because we are closer to those…to the excluded. We are close to those who really need to be uplifted, not just financially, not just socially, but also spiritually because sometimes when I go to the field and I meet the beneficiaries of the World Bank-financed projects I…I talk to them and I use the wise words that I’ve learned at Africa University,” she said.

The Rev. Lynn Hill, pastor of Franklin First United Methodist Church in Franklin, Tenn., spoke of how the church wanted to do more than simply want to support Africa University in a generic sort of way. The student, Claire Katiyo from Zimbabwe, is now like part of his church's family, he said.

"We wanted to specifically have a student that was our student that we then would fund completely, and that we would fund all of her expenses that she would need in order to be able to complete her higher education at Africa University," he said.