The power to read

Yesterday I went to graduation at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. Graduands sat in the sun in the square under parasols and umbrellas. Sister Pauline blagged me in on her invitation from the Vice Chancellor so we sat on the dais in the shade, and stood every now and then when the new Chancellor stood to confer a degree or two. Or three. Or more… 1564 students graduated with various degrees.

We arrived as part of a long line of cars and finally moved towards a parking spot just after the time that our invitation said we should be seated. We headed for the nice toilets in the administration block. But as we went in we were met by a procession of elaborately and colourfully robed and behatted academics. I was reminded of the Unseen University of Wizardry in Terry Pratchett’s Disk World stories. They bustled and hovered like only so many nervious academics can do. We greeted a few who recognised us (yes even me, some I’d met on my first visit to the University) then pressed through to the loos.

When I emerged from the Gent’s feeling much more relaxed, the colourful crowd were inside the building, in the very hallway that the toilet door opens into. They were arrayed around a projector displaying their new University web site on a screen. Someone was making a speech about officially inaugurating the web site. Thats a new one on me!

Then we moved to the square, and took our places on the shady dais, as did the academic procession. In fact it took them about another hour to get round to it and in the meantime a brass band played African Oompah! Music (yes, it is possible). Then all the usual stuff happened. Prof Ali Mazuri was inaugurated as the new Chancellor, lots of speeches were made and then LOTS of students were given the “power to read and do all that pertains to” their respective degrees.

Among the hundred and sxty-odd students graduating with a diploma in IT were twenty or so from Holy Rosary College. They didn’t pass in front of the chancellor, but stood in their seat until he said the words that conferred the honor upon them. In some cases, they had to stand for a long time; these franchised courses have lots and lots of students enrolled on them.

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