Address by Honourable Augustino Ramandi 

Chief Justice of Tanzania

The Chairman Saidullah Khan Dehlavi;
Members of the Board of Trustees of the Aga Khan University;
President Firoz Rasul;
Provost Dr William Doe;
Faculty Members;
Members of Staff and students;
Distinguished Guests;

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Let me first of all express my sincere gratitude at the great honour you have bestowed on me to be the chief guest at this fifth graduation ceremony. I could have easily understood it, and indeed I would have taken it for granted, if it were a graduation ceremony for legal qualifications. But it is a totally different case when the occasion is for health and educational fields. That the Chief Justice has been invited to grace this occasion is, as the lawyers would say, proof beyond reasonable doubt as to the esteem the Aga Khan University leadership has for the Judiciary. Thank you very much indeed.

Mr Chairman, I am well aware of the noble and benevolent role the Aga Khan Development Network is rendering, not only in this country, not only in Africa, but in over 30 of the poorest countries in the world. This is possible because of the devotion of private non-denominational development agencies and institutions founded and guided by His Highness the Aga Khan.

In 1983, Aga Khan University was established by a charter as an international university within that Network. Thus the University, which has caused this graduation ceremony, and hence the reason for my being here at this time, owes its existence to that Network.

Allow me, Mr Chairman, to take this most rare opportunity in my life to say how much I am moved by these deeds of humanity. I pray to God Almighty to bless and make these efforts sustainable.

The vision of the University is "an autonomous, international institution of distinction, primarily serving the developing world and Muslim societies in innovative and enduring ways". The University has never lost sight of its founding principles of accessibility to all, relevance to local needs, visible impact and high quality.

I understand that in pursuit of those principles, in addition to the training of doctors, there is the Advanced Nursing Studies Programme which was started in response to requests by the East African governments. The programme will promote the services of the nursing cadre to a much higher level. Apart from that there is also the Institute for Educational Development, East Africa, which was established in December, 2006, aimed at enhancing the calibre of teaching. Tanzania needs good teachers: the sort of teachers who taught the current leadership.

For all these endeavours I salute the Aga Khan University and I offer many hearty congratulations and praises.

According to the University's founder and Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, the University aims at being "on the frontiers of scientific and humanistic knowledge, radiating intelligence and confidence, research and graduates, into flourishing economies and progressive legal and political systems". We are just about to witness the manifestation of these magnificent goals.

I take this opportunity to congratulate all the professors, lecturers and all who in one way or another have enabled these persons before us to graduate this evening. To you graduands I give you very hearty congratulations. I know you have persevered many sleepless nights. There are times when you have gone without food. You have denied yourselves many amenities of life. You deliberately did all these so that you would satisfy your examiners and be here this afternoon. Congratulations. You have made it.

This occasion takes me back 40 years when I graduated from the then University of East Africa at the University College of Dar es Salaam, so I know your feelings as well as those of your loved ones and all those who wish you well. Again, congratulations, and I wish you all the best in life.

Some of you are now doctors of medicine. Others are graduate teachers in various subjects. Yet others are extremely well qualified nurses. The question is: What next? Is your goal now to find some place where you will be highly paid? Are you looking for green pastures? Someone said that the grass is always green over cesspits. So beware. Some green pastures are over cesspits. You have to be cautious. You have taken not less than 16 years to graduate. Some of you have taken even more years depending on the degrees you have read. There were no shortcuts. You have persevered and now here you are being rewarded legally, ceremoniously and publicly.

An honourable and successful career demands even more discipline than that of a student. During your student life there was no way you could have gone through two classes in a year. You had to stay in one class for a whole year before you moved on to the next. But in real life there are people who will try to persuade you to accept that there are shortcuts to success. Do not be gullible.

I always regard medicine - whether as a doctor or as a nurse - and teaching not as professions but as callings or vocations. These three words have been defined differently in the Chambers Student Dictionary: A profession is described as "an employment not mechanical and requiring some degree of learning". I dare say that even a hangman requires "some degree of learning". But that work is far from being a calling or a vocation.

A calling, on the other hand, is defined as "a vocation; a call to appoint or proclaim; to designate or reckon; to select for special office". Vocation is even more to the point: "A vocation is a calling by God to his service in special work or in a special position; fitness for God's or other specified work; a way of living or sphere of activity to which one has been called by God or for which one has special fitness". The adjective of profession clearly underscore the diametrical difference. "Professional" is expressed, among other things, to be "competing for money prizes or against those who sometimes do so; undertaken as a means of subsistence". The baseline is, putting it simply, greed. In a vocation or a calling the reward is not the motive. Service is the motive and the satisfaction.

I dare say that law - or being a lawyer - is a profession. There are two opposite sides to a dispute and there is a lawyer representing either side. Advocates of both sides will leave no stone unturned to persuade a magistrate or a judge to decide in his/her client's favour. However, being a Magistrate or a Judge is a vocation. You have to deliver justice. At the end of the day you feel so much refreshed, composed, at peace and satisfied. Mind you, this is coming from a person who has been a judge for the last 32 years, 20 years of which he has been in the final court of the land in whose decisions are final.

Never forget that you are graduates of the Aga Khan University, which continues the intellectual tradition of His Highness' forefathers, the Fatimids, who established the Al-Azhar University in Cairo over 1,000 years ago. You have a duty to reflect that tradition. Anyone who deals with you should be able to see the difference in your manners, treatment, care humility and politeness and should immediately remark "Yes! This is a graduate of the Aga Khan University".

Thank you for listening. I wish you all the best. God bless you.

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