“You [2014 Scholarship Awardees] have a message to Australia from Zambia: You are there to seek wisdom. Seek, acquire and bring it back to Zambia.” These are the wise words of Mr Roger Chongwe, one of the first Zambians who benefitted from an Australian Government-funded scholarship in the early 1960s.
A celebratory atmosphere marked the reception function, hosted by HE Mr Matthew Neuhaus, Australian High Commissioner to Zambia and Malawi, in honour of over 30 African professionals from Zambia and Malawi due to commence postgraduate studies in January 2014 on an Australian Government Scholarship.
The event took place in Lusaka on 30 October and enlisted the participation of several dignitaries, including Australian, Zambian and Malawian government officials, representatives of development partners, 2014 Awardees and Alumni.
Opening the event, High Commissioner Neuhaus congratulated departing Awardees and stressed that Africa is no longer a continent of potential, but rather a continent of achievement.
“I pay tribute to Awardees. You faced fierce competition and succeeded in being selected for an Australia Award. You are part of a distinguished elite. During your studies in Australia, I urge you to enjoy and be yourself, study hard and return to Africa to apply the knowledge and skills acquired to further advance the development of your home country and continent.”
Speaking at the event, Betty Musonda, Assistant Director in the Zambian Public Service Management Division, thanked the Australian Government for the continued support to capacity building, and delivered a special message to departing Zambian Awardees.
“I wish to express my gratitude to the Australian Government for the technical assistance it has been providing to Africa in general, and Zambia in particular, in areas of human capacity development from the 1960s to date,” Ms Musonda said.
“To selected candidates, I wish to congratulate you once again […]. I further urge you to devise innovative ways of improving service delivery to the people of Zambia when you return from your studies,” she added, addressing the Awardees.
The reception also marked the official launch of the Zambia-Australia Alumni Association (ZAAA). High Commissioner Neuhaus hailed the establishment of the association a milestone as the organisation will play an important role in fostering and nurturing people-to-people links between the two countries.
Addressing the same gathering, Timothy Moono, Chair of ZAAA, said it was gratifying to see that the efforts towards the establishment of the association had finally come to fruition.
“We [Alumni] can achieve even greater heights through such a network of professionals and lead in creating change,” he added.
Zambia has joined the ranks of other Australian Alumni associations recently established in Mozambique, Uganda and Kenya.
The reception function took place in the context of a two-day pre-departure briefing, which took place in Lusaka, catering for Zambian and Malawian Scholarship recipients preparing to start their studies in Australia. Further events were held in six other African countries between late October and November, preparing close to 300 new PhD and Masters Scholarship recipients from nearly 30 African countries.