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Welcome remarks by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, Chancellor of the University of Mpumalanga, at the 2017 Graduation Ceremony

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Vice Chancellor of the University of Mpumalanga, Prof TV Mayekiso,
Chairperson of Council, Dr MD Mabunda,
Our Guest Speaker, Mr Thulani Nzima,
Parents, Scholars and Graduands,
Esteemed Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you all to the University of Mpumalanga. This graduation is an occasion of great joy for our University. It is one of many firsts as we work to build the academy, eminence and distinction of the University of Mpumalanga.

Though still in its infancy, the university is proud of what it has achieved. The infrastructure of the institution is taking shape. But, more importantly, it is building the instruments of academic instruction, graduating the first cohort of students who began their course of study at this university.

It is also undoubtedly a precious moment for the graduands, their families, friends and teachers. Obtaining a higher education qualification is no easy feat.  Not only does it require academic ability and a firm commitment to one’s studies.

It also requires the will and determination to overcome the social and economic barriers of a society that is slowly emerging from a past of deprivation and dispossession. The young people who are graduating today are not the sons and daughters of the privileged. They are the offspring of those who have toiled, who have struggled and who have sacrificed much to build a better future for their children.

Today, we celebrate not only those who have earned their degrees and diplomas, but also those who have made this possible – their parents, their families and their communities. A graduation is not only a moment for celebrating achievement. It is as much a moment to pause, think and reflect on the future. It is an opportunity for all of us, congregated here together, to send the learned off into the various stations they will occupy in life.

Much as it is a time to ululate and blow horns, it is also an opportunity for new beginnings. It is an opportunity to reflect with honesty and with humility on the responsibilities an education confers. Today you will become men and women of letters. You will be robed with knowledge and capped with learning, and thus become part of the league of the educated for the rest of your lives. 

Those who have enjoyed the opportunity of attending a university will know that this responsibility is as daunting as it is exciting. Knowledge is a benefit meant not for you or your families alone. It is something to share. 

Its obligations are more pronounced in a country like South Africa – a country where access to decent education has been frustrated for generations, where the capabilities of our people have been deliberately stunted. 

So with this graduation, you are given the key to open the doors of opportunity, not only for yourselves, but also for others. In a country that has suffered centuries of oppression, with widespread poverty, inequality and unemployment, an educated person is a national asset. 

You must innovate, contribute and create new opportunities for inclusive and sustainable development. This is the responsibility you bear as a graduate of the University of Mpumalanga. You carry the hopes and aspirations of many who came before you, those who fought a titanic battle for you to be here. Now it is your turn to do it for others.

Go out there and enhance the freedom of our people. 
Go out there and open new avenues of hope, opportunity and achievement. 
Go out there and shine the light on Africa, make the world your stage and dance with the pride of having made something of the dreams of your forbearers.
Go out there to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, just and prosperous South Africa.

Now, with this qualification, the world is yours to make.
The future is yours to determine.
So embrace it. 
It is now in your hands.
 
I thank you.