The Journey to Morehouse is a story of experiences and testimonies of the first group of African students sponsored by Higherlife Foundation to study in the United States of America (USA) at Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia under the Ambassador Andrew Young Scholarship Fund. The first group comprising of ten students from Burundi and Zimbabwe was part of an overall program introduced by the patrons, Mr. Strive and Mrs. Tsitsi Masiyiwa, in 2012 to fund forty students, through Higherlife Foundation, to study at Morehouse College and its sister college, Spelman College in Atlanta Georgia. It is with great pleasure that we celebrate the success of this programme as nine of the ten students will be graduating on the 15th of May 2016.
Morehouse College is situated in Atlanta, in the State of Georgia, which has the largest and most affluent population of African – Americans in the USA. It has its roots in Christianity and was founded on February 14, 1876 as Augusta Institute, initially to educate students in theology. Over the years and through input from its highly academic and visionary Presidents, the College has developed into one of the most reputable private, all-male, liberal arts colleges for students in the USA. A liberal arts college enables students to study a wide variety of disciplines apart from their major study area.
The Institute grew as its first African-American President Dr. John Hope transformed it from a seminary into a rigorous academic institution that it is today. But perhaps its most notable growth occurred during the presidency of one its most influential Presidents, Benjamin Mays who after taking office in 1940, turned it into an institute of international repute designed to produce Afro-American boys with a mind-set for service and global impact. President Mays is also well known for mentoring the most notable civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr. who himself was a student of Morehouse college. In the 1960s Morehouse students were actively involved in the civil rights movement in Atlanta and Mays’s speeches were instrumental in shaping the personal development of Morehouse students.
Dr. Michael Franklin’s succinctly summed up how Higherlife Foundation relates to Morehouse College when he said- “At Morehouse, we make the intellectual excellence and spiritual wholeness go hand in hand. Over the past 140 years, Morehouse has been committed to challenging, training and re-planning young men to become global leaders. It’s the Morehouse Mission, where leadership, service and excellence come together.” This was during a keynote speech addressing students at the College.
The relationship between the College and the Foundation has its origins in the relationship between the Higherlife Foundation patron, Mr. Strive Masiyiwa and Ambassador Andrew Young who played a key role in Mr. Masiyiwa’s appointment by the American Government of President Bill Clinton to the Board Member of the Southern African Enterprise Development Fund (SAEDF). The Ambassador who was the then Chair of the Fund recommended Mr. Masiyiwa’s appointment to the Board in 1995. Ambassador Andrew Young became a mentor to Mr. Strive Masiyiwa and through this relationship eventually introduced him to Morehouse College.
Higherlife Foundation could not have picked a better partner for the fulfilment of its vision. This is because both partners are founded in Christian principles. Further to this, Morehouse is one of the few colleges in the USA with a focus to produce service minded graduates. It has a philosophy of hard work, excellence, brotherhood and service minded leadership for its students, and it has managed to produce notable leaders who have made global impact and a culture of giving back. Its Alumni, for example, continues to make visible impact on the College, the students and communities around the USA. Higherlife Foundation believes that education is the driving force that will change Africa and these young students are endowed with diverse gifts and talents with a common trait of academic astuteness.
The Journey to Morehouse
This beautiful journey started on the 28th of February 2012 when the first advert inviting students to apply to the new “Ambassador Andrew Young Scholarship Fund” was flighted. The response was overwhelming as applications came in from all over the world and the best ten were selected.
As orphans, the scholarship changed the way relatives and friends viewed the successful applicants and the scholarship became a springing board from which many were reconciled to their long forgotten family members. One of the boys met his uncle at the airport, for the first time. For several others, the scholarship elevated them to a place of respect, as they became role models for their cousins, nephews as well as friends. Prince Abudu, one of the beneficiaries had this to say “What strikes me the most is that I earned respect for my mother too who started getting acknowledgement for my achievement”.
The Inflight Experience
For many of the students, this was their first ever experience on a plane. Many had dreamt of being in an airplane from childhood and this was their chance to live this dream. Thrilled, excited, scared, nauseated and nervous are some of the words used by the students to describe their experience of the flight. One of the boys, Prosper Dzanwa, called it a dream come true as he never thought that his dreams could come true at such an early age. Prosper went on to say, “Life is a succession of lessons that must be lived out to be understood. I have always dreamt of being on a plane, to the extent that I wished to become a pilot as a child, just for the love of being on a plane. This experience taught me that high achievements take place in the vicinity of high expectation”.
Arrival in Atlanta
Meeting the President of Morehouse College and Ambassador Andrew Young
Upon arrival the boys met President of Morehouse College, Dr. Franklin as part of his usual get to know the international students program. During this session the President reiterated the history, values and purpose of Morehouse College as a channel through which black men can achieve academic excellence in an atmosphere free from racism and other forms of discrimination
The boys were also got a recap of Ambassador Andrew Young’s personal experience as a young black activist working with Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a one of the great African Americans who contributed to make what America is today. As a politician under President Jimmy Carter, he was the link between African and American business and political leaders.
It has been an amazing 4 years filled with new experiences for our Morehouse boys and as a foundation we are overwhelmed with joy because our boys have made it. Congratulations boys, keep flying our flag.