The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, has called on young university graduates to be instruments of change in a world beset by increasing socio-economic challenges.
Delivering a keynote speech at America’s Calvin University Commencement ceremony, Dr Adesina told the audience, including 700 graduates, that, “The world faces many simultaneous challenges, promising a future of exciting and infinite possibilities in which you have a role to play.”
He noted that the challenges were climate change, food insecurity and a lack of universal access to affordable healthcare.
Adesina is the first international guest to address the university’s commencement event. He shared with the graduates the difficult times and conditions he went through as a university student at America’s Purdue University. During that period, he ran out of the small stipend and often had to walk several kilometres, enduring the winter, to and from lectures. One day a bus driver came to his aid by topping up his fare.
He also drew the sympathy of his professors who rallied to pay for his tuition and upkeep.
Many years later, Adesina won the World Food Prize – the “Nobel Prize for Agriculture.”
“How could my professors have known at the time that they were helping someone who would later become a World Food Prize Laureate? How would they have known they were helping someone who would later become President of the African Development Bank Group?” he reminisced.
Calvin University’s President, Dr Wiebe Boer, extolled Adesina’s qualities as “a man of great accomplishments”.
He said, “Everywhere he goes, no matter how high, no matter how powerful, no matter how big the check book, he never forgets those less fortunate.”