A story is told from Africa about a very powerful King who had a very beautiful daughter and was his only child.
In order to find a worthy man to marry his only daughter and potentially the future King. The King devised a plan.
He had a pool dug out and placed hungry crocodiles in it. He asked all the young men to gather on one end and placed the daughter on the other end and directed that whoever would swim across the pool full of hungry crocodiles to the other end where the daughter stood that man would marry his daughter and become the future King.
The young men gathered on one side as directed, but each of them wondered how anybody could possibly bypass the hungry crocodiles to get the girl who was not only the most beautiful girl in the Kingdom but held the key to a permanently transformed life of wealth and status.
As one young man stood at the edge of the pool helplessly watching the crocodiles, somebody from behind pushed him into the pool and he panicked and swam to save his life and to his own relief, he safely swam to the other end. Everybody was congratulating him for being the brave man of the village but he could not hear of it. All he wanted to know, shaking with anger was ‘WHO PUSHED ME?’
Then an old man by his side said son you are focusing on the wrong issue. Whoever pushed you is your best friend right now because that push is what you needed to get the ultimate prize that will change your life and those around you forever.
Today, this story is very appropriate to me and I am sure to many of you fellow students here.
The beautiful Princes symbolizes that which has the capacity to change your life and those around you for the better, and that which has the capacity to change your life for the better is, first of all, acquiring a GOOD EDUCATION.
The pool full of crocodiles represents the obstacles that looked insurmountable to overcome to achieve that education. To most of us the obstacles represent:
The financial resources that we possibly could never have managed to raise to study at a great university like Peking University. Education, especially at a good university is not cheap. The competition for a place at Peking University could yet be another major obstacle.
Others it was Self-doubt while for others it’s the sacrifices that you had to overcome to get this qualification. The sleepless nights and the pressures. Others turned down job opportunities to be here, others left the little children to be here, some marriages and relationships have had to be put on hold in order to study. These are the crocodiles.
The push represents the resources that were put together to ensure you and I succeed which include financial, Infrastructure and human resources. The push which could only come from a friend. For us from the Institute of South to South Cooperation and Development that friend is:
The people of this Great nation of China and their love for fellow human beings, who in their time of success have never forgotten to lend a helping hand to other developing countries through the great leadership of President Xi Jinping.
In September 2015 President Xi Jinping during the High-level Roundtable on South-South Cooperation co-hosted by China and the United Nations (UN) at the UN headquarters in New York, announced that in order to help other developing countries to grow their economy and improve people's livelihood, China would carry out Six initiatives, which included making available to other developing countries in five years’ time:
- 100 poverty reduction programs,
- 100 agricultural cooperation projects,
- 100 trade promotion and aid programs,
- 100 environmental protection and climate change programs,
- 100 hospitals and clinics,
- 100 schools and vocational training centers.
In the five years that would follow, China committed to provide 120,000 opportunities and 150,000 scholarships for citizens of other developing countries to receive training and education in China and help nurture 500,000 professional technicians for the rest of the developing world. Amongst those pledges, China committed to set up an Academy of South-South Cooperation and Development. Today we are witnessing the fruits of that commitment because we are the product of that commitment.
Our first response is to remember who gave us the gentle push that has enabled us to reach this far and we say a very big thank you and we will forever sing the praises of this great country and its leadership for making it possible to behold what we see today.
In 2018 as the nation celebrates the 40 years of the reforms and opening up when this great institution Peking University celebrates its 120 years our names have joined the great personalities that are products of this world-renowned university, Peking University. What a true and reliable friend, what a Big brother, what a role model we have in China.
To my colleagues, fellow graduates, this achievement that we today celebrate comes with it great expectations and responsibilities on our part. The Chinese Government and its people have done their part for us, but this occasion and all the resources that came with it will come to nothing if it does not translate into us making all effort to make a difference for the better in our countries and making a contribution to humanity in general.
I know the beauty of China is addictive and some may wish to stay a little longer or even forever, but now is the time to go back to our countries and turn our countries into the beauty that we now see in China today.
It won’t be an easy task to change our countries, there may be crocodiles in the pond that will stand in between where we are currently and the future we want for our respective countries but nothing is impossible when your eyes are focused on the ultimate goal.
We should always remember the words of Professor Justin Lin who says: Never complain and start with what you have (your comparative advantage), with persistence we can overcome any kind of situation.
When no solution seems to be in sight remember the words of Professor Fun JUN who always said ‘you have been given the tools to see what others cannot see. Open the black box and see what is hidden beneath the surface’.
Or the words of Prof. YANG Zhuang that attitude is everything, change your attitude and you change your life.
Our attitude should be an attitude of hope, humility, and a sense of purpose and that with persistence we can overcome every kind of situation. China did it. We can do it also.
Our appreciation goes to the people of this great country, the able leadership of President Xi Jinping, The University faculty, and staff. We wish to say a big thank you to Eliza, Helen, Edward, and Kiki for your love and commitment to duty. You made our stay very comfortable and attended with grace to all matters that we presented to you.
Thank you, Thank you and thank you all for listening.