Zimbabwean-Born Businessman Commits $6.4 Million to Send 40 African Students to Morehouse
(July 12, 2012) Nigena Hamim knew exactly why he wanted to leave the African nation of Burundi and come to the United States to attend Morehouse College.
“I have a dream of fighting ethnic divisions in my country and I am encouraged to realize my vision…After all, I believe that I was born at a time like this to serve and develop my community.”
Zimbabwean-born businessman and philanthropist Strive Masiyiwa is helping to make Hamim’s dream a reality. Hamim is one of 10 students – two from Burundi and eight from Zimbabwe – who will be attending Morehouse on full, four-year scholarships, beginning this fall.
They are the first class of the new Ambassador Andrew Young International Scholars program. Masiyiwa, founder and chairman of Econet Wireless, wants African students to earn a world-class education that they can take home with them after graduation. Forty African students in all – representing an investment of $6.4 million – will go through the program.
Masiyiwa believes Morehouse and Atlanta, the center of the civil rights movement with leaders such as Ambassador Andrew Young, will be the perfect place for the students to develop.
“For us, the civil rights movement and our fight against colonialism was almost synonymous,” he said. “We knew people like Ambassador Young and Martin Luther King Jr. I remember reading about King and his life, and of course I got to know about Morehouse and the fact that he had been here and (HBCUs) were very proud institutions. So I got to know about Morehouse fairly early and it really resonated in the struggle that we were involved in.
“What I want to see coming from the student who comes out of the Morehouse system is a much more confident, self-assured, more complete young man who is not struggling to find out who he is in the world,” he said.
The 10 students, some of the top students in their countries, were chosen from a larger pool of 20 young men, chosen by Capernaum Trust, the education arm of Masiyiwa’s Higher Life Foundation.
“Mr. Masiyiwa and his wife really have a heart for seeing talented students who have leadership potential go get the best education in the world and then come back to Africa to lead the kind of changes they want to see on the African continent,” said Philip Howard ’87, vice president for Institutional Advancement.
“They hope the young men will bring the kinds of 21st -century management, leadership, social justice, civic engagement, all those things Morehouse provides, back to the continent to lead Africa into the 21st century.”
Howard; William Bynum, vice president for Student Services; and Kevin Williams ’85, dean of Admissions, flew to Zimbabwe to interview the 20 students in June. Ten were chosen, though the other 10 received scholarships to a South African university.
“All of them, without fail, talked about returning home to do something related to their fields to improve the conditions of their fellow countrymen,” said Bynum. “I’m very excited about these young men. They are academically talented, driven, and once they make that cultural adjustment, the sky’s the limit on what they can achieve.”
The students arrive in Atlanta on Aug. 5, four days before New Student Orientation so they can adjust to their new surroundings. All will have American roommates in the College’s Dubois International House residence hall.
Spelman College officials will observe the Morehouse program this year as Masiyiwa will send 10 female students to Spelman next year.
For now, the 10 young Africans are ready to take advantage of their time at Morehouse.
“I expect Morehouse to help me become the agent of positive change in the community and in people’s lives,” said Abel Gumbo.