LAST week on Tuesday 2nd April, 2019, The Moshi Cooperative University held a ‘valediction’ function for its outgoing Vice Chancellor, Professor Faustine K. Bee.
These are two little known University traditions which, I submit, should be maintained. There are three academic functions which, over the centuries, have become the established tradition of Universities worldwide.
These are: (i) the ‘graduation’ ceremonies; and (ii) the ‘valediction’; and (iii) the ‘investiture’ functions of Vice Chancellors, whenever there occurs a “Change of guard”. But of these three, the ‘graduation’ function is more familiar to many people, for two main reasons.
One, it provides a grand opportunity for the participation of many more members of the public, including the parents, friends and other well-wishers of the graduating students. And the larger the group that graduates, the larger the participating audience.
The other reason is that graduation ceremonies occur much more frequently, because they are normally held after the end of every academic year.
On the contrary, however, ‘Valediction’ and ‘Investiture’ functions are held only rarely, when the need arises and such need does not normally arise with similar frequency.
Furthermore, whenever they are held, they are normally treated strictly as the ‘internal affairs’ of the relevant University; and for operational considerations, attendances at these functions are usually restricted to only a few selected representatives of the members of the relevant University’s community of staff and students.
For these reasons, public knowledge of these ‘internal’ University functions is, understandably, very limited.
This was clearly manifested recently, when such events were held at two of Tanzanian Universities with which I am closely associated, namely, the Mbeya University of Science and Technology; and the Moshi Cooperative University. In both cases, the relevant events were being held for the first time ever in the life of these Universities.
Hence, they came as a ‘pleasant surprise’ to many of the stakeholders there, including the respective University communities themselves.
That is when it occurred to me that there is a need for a making a public exposure of this little known centuries-old Universities tradition, which, I personally believe, is well worth maintaining; specifically for the benefit of our newly established Universities.
And that is the main purpose of today’s article; which is presented in the hope that it will help to raise the stake holder’s awareness regarding this matter; and thus, presumably, help to generate new interest in maintaining these traditions.
Hence, for the purpose of achieving that objective of raising awareness, today’s article will dwell on the actual modalities of conducting the said ceremonies; using the two Universities mentioned herein, i.e. Mbeya University of Science and Technology (MUST); and Moshi Cooperative University (MoCU), for convenience as illustrative case studies.
Such events may take place together, or separately It all depends on the actual conditions existing at the material time of holding the relevant ceremonies.
What happened in the case of the two Universities referred to above, is that Mbeya University of Science and Technology (MUST) held the two ceremonies simultaneously.
This was made possible because the departure of the outgoing Vice Chancellor was known well in advance. This factor enabled the process for the appointment of a new Vice Chancellor to be carried out and completed in time, for both the valediction and investiture ceremonies to be held together on 27th February, 2019.
However, the case of Moshi Cooperative University (MoCU) was entirely different. The departure of the outgoing Vice Chancellor was announced rather suddenly, following his new appointment as Vice Chancellor of the University of Dodoma (UDOM), where he was required to report immediately to assume his new responsibilities.
Thus, it became necessary for MoCU to hold the valediction ceremony for him rather urgently.
The Mbeya University function was also a first time ever event Actually, both functions at ‘MUST’ and at ‘MoCU’ were first-time-ever events, due to the fact that the outgoing Vice Chancellors were, in both cases, the ‘founder fathers’ of their respective institutions.
This “changing of the guard” was therefore taking place for the first time.
The procedures at MUST were organized so as to commence with the valediction function for the outgoing Vice Chancellor, in the following sequence:- (i) The preliminaries: the inevitable academic procession. The academic procession is an inevitable component of all academic ceremonies, including the annual graduation events.
Thus, the first item was the academic procession, which included the University Chancellor; the Chairman of the University Council; members of the University Senate; the outgoing Vice Chancellor and the incoming Vice Chancellor; the Deputy Vice Chancellors; plus the Senor academic staff members; all of whom were splendidly robed in their impressive academic gowns, with the University proctor carrying the Mace.
The incoming Vice Chancellor was the only ‘odd’ person in that magnificent procession wearing civilian dress; for he would be adorned later with the Vice Chancellor’s regalia as part of the investiture proceedings.
Upon arrival inside the designated venue, known as ‘Nyerere Hall’; the Proctor placed the Mace on its holder directly in front of the Chancellor’s seat. And, with the congregation still standing, the Brass band solemnly played the National Anthem. (ii) Constituting the “Special Assembly” After these preliminaries and with the congregation now comfortably settled in their allocated seats; the Chancellor rose to formally constitute the “Special Assembly for the proper performance of the prescribed procedures for the valediction and investiture ceremonies”.
(iii) The valedictory proceedings for the outgoing Vice Chancellor. At this stage, the outgoing Vice Chancellor moved to the podium to deliver his prepared valedictory speech.
When the speech was concluded, the whole Congregation joyfully rose to give him a standing ovation, in deserved appreciation of his distinguished service as the ‘founder Vice Chancellor’ of Mbeya University of Science and Technology. Then there followed two other symbolic procedures.
First, a representative of the University Council moved to the podium, to read what was presented as a “joint Council/Senate commendation” for the outgoing Vice Chancellor.
And secondly, a Joint Council/Senate ‘special Certificate of appreciation’ was presented to the outgoing Vice Chancellor. (iv) The congratulatory messages.
Then followed the offering of short Congratulatory messages from representatives of the University’s recognized staff Associations and Trade Unions; the Convocation; and the Student Government.
And that is what concluded Part One of these of this ceremony, namely, the valediction function. With the Chancellor and the invite guests remaining behind inside the Hall, the academic procession (now consisting only of senior members of the academic staff and the outgoing Vice Chancellor), went out of the Hall to fetch the incoming Vice Chancellor and escort him to the Assembly Hall for the investiture function.
The investiture proceedings The academic procession soon returned to the Assembly Hall, marking the ceremonial entry of the new Vice Chancellor. Once everyone had taken his seat, the Chairman of the University Council rose to announce the presence of the newly appointed Vice Chancellor, which facilitated the commencement of the investiture proceedings in the following sequence:- (i) The preliminaries.
The Outgoing Vice Chancellor was assisted to de-robe the academic regalia of his office; which was then transferred to the new Vice Chancellor, in a symbolic demonstration of the transfer of power and the associated responsibilities. The new Vice Chancellor’s acceptance declaration.
Thereafter, the new Vice Chancellor stood in front of the Chancellor to solemnly read a declaration of his acceptance of that office and commitment to carry out his responsibilities faithfully and with due diligence.
This item was administered by the University’s Corporate Counsel and Secretary to the University Council. It was followed by the handing over to him by the Chancellor, of a copy of the University Charter, plus that of the policies and regulations of the University. (ii) The Vice Chancellor’s investiture speech.
The new Vice Chancellor then moved to the podium to deliver his investiture speech; followed by the Chancellor’s speech’.
After the speeches, the Chancellor dissolved the “Special Assembly” which he had earlier constituted; and this marked the completion of the Mbeya University’s combined valedictory and investiture ceremony.
The Valedictory function at Moshi Cooperative University. As stated earlier in this presentation, the valediction ceremony for the outgoing Vice Chancellor was held on 2nd April, 2019. (i) The inevitable academic procession.
The function commenced with the traditional and inevitable academic procession, consisting of the Chancellor, preceded by the University proctor carrying the MoCU Mace; the outgoing Vice Chancellor; plus the senior academic staff members, all of them wearing their majestic academic regalia, proceeding to the designated venue of the Assembly meeting which, coincidentally, also bears the name “Nyerere Hall” like that at Mbeya University of Science and Technology.
Upon arrival inside the function Hall, the proctor placed the Mace on its holder in front of the Chancellor’s seat; and with the Congregation still standing, the Brass band solemnly played both the National Anthem and the East African Community Anthem.
The East African Anthem is normally played at all academic functions of the Moshi Cooperative University, because it has been designated as “the centre of excellence for Cooperative Education and training in East Africa”. (ii) Constituting the “Special Assembly”.
With the Congregation comfortably settled in their allocated seats, the Chancellor rose to constitute the “Special Assembly for the proper performance of the investiture ceremony procedures”.
Thereafter, the Chairman of the University Council rose to make the formal announcement that the Vice Chancellor had been appointed to a similar position at another public University, the University of Dodoma (UDOM); and further that the purpose of this gathering was to bid him farewell.
In response to this announcement, the Chancellor rose to formally convert the said gathering, to a ”special Assembly for the proper performance of the prescribed procedures for the valediction ceremony’. (iii) The outgoing Vice Chancellor’s valediction speech.
The outgoing Vice Chancellor then moved to the podium to deliver his prepared valedictory speech, the move being accompanied by a ‘trumpet fanfare’ music played by the Police Brass band.
At the conclusion of his speech, there followed another symbolic procedure of ‘de-robing the outgoing Vice Chancellor’, during which he was assisted by the University’s Corporate Counsel and the University proctor to de-robe the academic regalia of his erstwhile office, thus signifying the termination of his mandate at Moshi Cooperative University. (iv) The congratulatory messages.
The next item was the offering of short congratulatory messages from representatives of the University’s recognized staff Associations and Trade Unions; the Convocation; and the Student government. (v) The Chancellor’s valediction speech.
The Chancellor’s ‘valediction speech’ was the final item of the proceedings; at the end of which, the Chancellor formally dissolved the “special Assembly” which had been constituted specifically for the purpose of this function only.
Thereafter the assembled Congregation was invited to be upstanding for the playing by the Police Brass band, of the East African Community Anthem and the National Anthem; followed by the academic procession departing from the function Hall..