Chairman of the University Council, Vice-Chancellor, Honorable Ministers of State and Members of Parliament present, Members of the University Council, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Vice-Chancellors and Rectors of Sister Universities, Registrar and Registrars of Sister Universities, Niimei, Naamei, Nananom, Members of Convocation, Senior and Junior Staff of UPSA, Alumni of UPSA, Members of the Media, Graduating Students, Distinguished Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
Let me be honest, though I am thrilled I am also a bit nervous; I have never written a va-le-dic-to-ry speech before. You might have realised that I took my time to pronounce the word. It’s such a long and winded word isn’t it? And if you’re very Ghanaian like me, you’ll find that, if you don’t break it into syllables, you will mix up the sounds and come up with something that cannot be pronounced. It is said that if you want to solve a complex problem, you break it down into smaller, manageable tasks and before you know it, you have a solution.
So I’m glad to announce that, I have come up with a solution. At a glance, you will find that the word, valedictory can be broken down into two main words: ‘victory’ and ‘lead’. If this is a coincidence, it is a very perfect one because these two words are very important for my message this morning. And the good news is, I can pronounce these two words, very easily. 😆
Let me talk about the first word; victory. In our journey in life, the word victory will become a very important word throughout. Each one of us here, will want to win every day and why not? Victory is good; it is a reward for hard work and it is often, the marker of success.
But whenever I think of victory, I can’t help but think of a loser. It appears to me that whenever there is victory, there must be a loser. And so, what drives my ambition to have victory, always has the feeling of getting someone to lose.
It is almost as if, my victory depends on someone’s loss. So the question I ask myself is, can I ever have victory without a loser? After pondering for a while, I’ve come to realise that, if ever I would have victory without a loser, I must be the loser.
In April of 2017, the great Wladimir Klitschko took on the greatest of all challenges – to fight Anthony Joshua. The venue was the iconic Wembley stadium. The crowd, 90,000 as well as TV audience of millions of people in about 150 countries. Klitschko lost. Joshua won. But boxing journalists and commentators said: “Klitschko appeared greater in defeat than he has ever managed in victory.” Later, he, himself said: “I never thought I would say such a thing, but: in defeat, I achieved much greater success than I would have, had I won …I used to think failure wasn’t an option… today I know passionate defeat is an option”
In this our winner-takes-all, victory-at-all-cost society, there is a great tendency to bribe our way through any situation because we have to win.
- This is why it is difficult for us to give way to anyone in traffic.
- It is the reason, we force our way into traffic, when we don’t have the right of way.
- This is why we do anything to stand by our views.
- It is the reason why our political opponents are always wrong and we are right.
- It is why the divorce rate is soaring.
- It is the reason why we will defend the decisions we take; whether they were right or not.
We have to win by all means, at all cost, no matter what.
My fellow graudands, as we step out of this campus, let us know that we will not always win; we will not always have victory. That is the harsh reality. But if we understand that, every loss is in itself, a victory, we would have begun the process of transforming our character and changing our world for the better.
Anyone can revel in victory, but the true test of personal character and integrity is found in how well one handles defeat. If we are to change our society, our businesses, our families, our relationships and our country, we must drop the winner-takes-all mentality. We must drop the win-at-all cost mindset and embrace real victory.
You must have heard of this story: The famous tea trader, Thomas Sullivan invented the tea bag at the start of the twentieth century, completely by accident. In his time, tea samples were sent in large, expensive tin containers.
Thomas thought of a way to get around the weight problem so he placed the tea in small, space-saving silk bags. His customers thought they were intended for direct use so they dunked the tea bags in water and drank the tea. This is how the teabag was invented.
I am sure, poor Thomas was disappointed. He thought his short experiment had failed but guess what, he had invented one of the world’s most convenient and useful products. By this “loss”, the tea bag conquered the world.
Now let me go on to my next word: ‘Lead’. More than anything else, what our continent needs right now, are leaders. Leaders are people who make things happen; they are not people who are made by things.
Today, we, the graduating class of 2019 have a great challenge ahead of us. It is the challenge to stand up and make things happen in our families, our communities, our businesses, nation and continent.
To lead is to be an active person of thought and a thoughtful person of action. Leadership is boldness. Boldness in the face of strong opposition to do what is right.
Just recently, I read a news article with this big headline: ‘GOV’T MAKES GHC 258,000 FROM CITI TV’S WAR AGAINST INDISCIPLINE CAMPAIGN’. Two hundred and fifty-eight thousand (GHC 258,000) in one month; by making sure the right thing is done? Multiply this amount by twelve months and you get a shocking, three million and ninety six thousand Ghana Cedis! What an amazing demonstration of the power of leadership. A small media company, somewhere in Adabraka is making this much money for the government every month because they dared to stand up and show the way. Now, the Ghana Police has officially partnered Citi TV to keep this going. They dared to lead.
The challenge is on us, the graduating class of 2019 to stand up in our generation and be counted. The call is open and we must rise up to the call. This call can sometimes be a lonely one; a thankless and often tiresome call. But if we are to make the change, our generation desperately need, we must lead that change.
Now there is only one more thing left to say and that is Congratulations to U P S A gradschool 2019 and those who helped us get here! I believe most of you will bear witness with me that though this has been a memorable and exciting journey it has also been a rigorous and tortuous one.
As I stand here today I remember clearly all the late night studies, having to juggle corporate work targets with academic targets, doing assignments whilst supervising homework of our wards, the group discussions in the syndicate rooms that never concluded before the librarians called time on us… these were all very demanding and needed most of us to make lots of sacrifices in all spheres of our lives, and not only us but our families…They also had to sacrifice their fair bit to ensure that we are seated here when this day arrived.
It is therefore important that I recognise the contribution of parents, husbands, wives, siblings and children in the success we celebrate today, not forgetting all the teaching and non-teaching staff of this Great University.
WE SAY THANK YOU! God richly bless you! Most importantly we are grateful to the Almighty God for I see HIM is at the centre of everything we have achieved. To our colleagues who started with us but couldn’t graduate today, know that you are still winners if you embrace the real victory!
Class of 2019, as you take off these robes and step out of this university today remember the goal is to embrace real victory and have an unrelenting urge to lead wherever the journey of life takes you.
I am already excited because some of us are on that journey, but we need to steer the course without giving up… and I am so convinced we will make it because the anchor that keeps our souls is fastened to the Rock which cannot move…it is grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.
Permit me to leave you with this charge from E. G. White,
“The greatest want of the world is the want of men—
men who will not be bought or sold,
men who in their inmost souls are true and honest,
men who do not fear to call sin by its right name,
men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole,
men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.”
MAY WE BE THOSE MEN AND WOMEN.
God Bless Class of 2019
God Bless UPSA
God Bless Our Nation Ghana
God Bless us all!!!