Tendai Rupapa in MOSCOW, Russia
RUSSIAN State University for the Humanities yesterday conferred an honorary doctorate degree in Philosophy (Honoris Causa) on First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa in recognition of her philanthropic work that has changed the lives of many Zimbabweans for the better at a colourful ceremony in Moscow.
This becomes the third university to honour Dr Mnangagwa this year alone after GD Goenka University of India, which awarded her a Doctor of Philosophy Degree, and Vernadsky Crimean Federal University of Russia which gave her a gold medal in recognition of her contribution to the education sector in Zimbabwe through her Angel of Hope Foundation.
The First Lady looked radiant in her academic regalia, a black gown with a blue hood, showing the lofty heights one can scale in life through dedication and commitment.
Mechanic Manyeruke’s song “Makorokoto” was played, sending academics and other guests onto the dance floor.
A video showing Dr Mnangagwa’s works was shown and the university authorities were touched by her hardwork and hands-on approach and implored Russians to emulate her.
Russian State University’s Vice Chancellor Professor Doctor Alexander Bezborodov gave a glowing citation of Dr Mnangagwa, describing her as a unique person.
“Her Excellency is a unique person who has ventured in social work that has changed lives of many Zimbabweans for the better. We are very privileged to host her today please take heed and be guided accordingly.
“She also works in health and education fraternity promoting health and child care services. Here in Russia we have many Zimbabwean students on scholarships courtesy of the First Lady through her Angel of Hope Foundation.
“Recently, representatives from Russian universities visited Zimbabwe where they witnessed her launching a special project of providing scholarships to the less privileged students. Dr Mnangagwa also facilitated collaborations between Russia universities and Zimbabwean universities.
“Zimbabwe is under economic sanctions for many years and this hinders progress and development, but we bow our heads to the First Lady for her great works which are helping the people,” he said in his citation.
The First Lady, Prof Dr Bezborodov said, actively works with every social group in Zimbabwe and all those in need.
“She is touching and elevating every group. We are hereby thrilled to confer her with this honorary doctorate,” he said.
This dovetailed with the remarks of Deputy Minister for Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, Mrs Natalya Bocharova, who extended a hearty welcome to the First Lady and her delegation.
“I want to say that we have a unique guest today. She is unique not only in Zimbabwe but the entire Africa and the planet. She formed her Angel of Hope Foundation and supports underprivileged communities.
“She helps women and children in dire situations and this is her gift she has. We are proud to have her here today and it is an honour and privilege to meet and interact with her. We are immensely grateful for the idea of conferring her with this doctorate.
“Her work in helping the people is valuable. It is good that we have Zimbabwean students here in Russia and we expect more. We must emulate her good works here in Russia. We wish her a good stay in Russia,” she said.
In her acceptance remarks, Dr Mnangagwa expressed gratitude to the top university for its gracious decision.
“I humbly accept this recognition with deep gratefulness and my sincere appreciation. And let me assure you that I do not take this honour for granted.
“My gratitude goes to the talented, innovative and donor-centred Angel of Hope Foundation colleagues, to the wonderful professional volunteers and friends who became part of the Angel of Hope foundation family, and to my brilliant partners. Thank you for your inspiring volunteerism and for promoting philanthropic planning in the community and in the country,” she said.
The Angel of Hope Foundation, the First Lady said, was established in 2018 with the aim of mobilising resources for the less-privileged.
“Fast forward to today, it has become an international platform that provides women and children with a safe space and opportunity for education, skills development and small to medium entrepreneurship.
“There is need for women who are in positions of power to lift the weight of the social ills that, for far too long, women and children have been shouldering, and to close the social inequities that have deepened to devastating depths.
“I am so pleased to be a part of this auspicious occasion, as the Russian State University acknowledges the seeds we saw for a better future,” she said.
Dr Mnangagwa thanked all the charitable individuals, donors and clients, whom she had the extraordinary privilege to interact with.
“I would like to convey my gratitude, your compassion, optimism and inspiration to the people of the Russian Federation, for sharing your sense of true abundance with others and for positively impacting countless lives in Zimbabwe.
“Thank you again for this tremendous honour and for being part of a community that promotes and celebrates volunteering,” she said.
Senator in the Russian Federation Upper House Parliament Mrs Ludmila Skakovskaya who was also in attendance conveyed her congratulatory remarks.
“I want to congratulate the First Lady of Zimbabwe Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa for the honour she received from one of the top universities for humanities in Russia. It is our joy that she deserves this great honour because she is doing a lot especially looking at marginalised groups like women and children. Thank you for the work you are doing in Zimbabwe and beyond Amai, the mother of the nation,” she said.
The First Lady toured the university’s museum of antic sculpture where Mr Elexander Zotin, the director of the African Centre at the university said the university was looking forward to planning an exhibition for art works by Zimbabweans in Russia through the First Lady.
“It’s my pleasure and privilege to host this delegation headed by Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa. We have close ties with Zimbabwe.
“One of our aims is to arrange an exhibition of Zimbabwean sculpture at this university because we know that Zimbabwean sculptures, paintings and art in general is very vibrant, very modern and absolutely brilliant.
“Nobody knows in Moscow and in Russia about Zimbabwean art. We aim to arrange this exhibition with the First Lady, Dr Mnangagwa and forge close relationships with Zimbabwean institutions like the Institute of African knowledge,” he said.
The Angel of Hope Foundation has turned into a source of pride for the First Lady and the entire nation because of the mountains it has moved.
Honesty has also played a major part in her success as she ensures that all the resources mobilised reach the intended beneficiaries.
She has on many occasions left her home to spend nights in tents or among the people in hard to reach areas and risking life and limb travelling in treacherous roads to spread love to the less-privileged.
The world is watching hence her recognition in many countries.