From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Mission team returns to Africa University beginnings

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Thu, 27 Jun 2002 14:29:07 -0500

June 27, 2002 News media contact: Linda Green7(615)742-54707Nashville, Tenn.

NOTE: Photographs and a sidebar, UMNS story #275, are available with this

By Andra Stevens*

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) - A mission team from Iowa returned to where it all
began - dilapidated farmhouses - to get Africa University ready for the
masses coming to celebrate the school's first decade.

"For me, it's a privilege to work with the folks of Zimbabwe, whether it is
using a striker to cut grass in order to paint a wall, or holding a baby in
the Fairfield Orphanage or consulting with the Africa University Counseling
service," says Bob Hoover, a retired pastor from Solon, Iowa.

Hoover, a member of a 15-person Volunteers in Mission team from the Iowa
Annual Conference, is at work on the campus of the United Methodist-related
university. He and about six of his fellow team members are back where the
church's Volunteers in Mission support for Africa University began. They are
sprucing up old campus buildings on the farm in readiness for the official
celebration of Africa University's 10th anniversary in November. 

"The old campus is where Africa University came to life in March 1992 and
United Methodist Volunteers in Mission played such an important role in our
beginning," says Professor Rukudzo Murapa, the school's vice chancellor.
"They came to this valley when we had nothing but dilapidated farm
structures, and they helped us turn them into classrooms and a lab and
library so we could open our doors to that very first group of students."

Africa University has grown from 40 students studying in two faculties
(departments) in 1992, to close to 800 students studying in five faculties
today. A sixth faculty, for health sciences, will be launched this year with
enrollment in 2003. It will include programs of nursing, environmental and
public health and health sciences. Teaching and administrative staff members
number more than 200, and the campus boasts 18 academic and other buildings.

The Iowa team is painting and doing minor repairs on the small thatched
rondavel that used to be the registrar's office and on the buildings that
once housed Africa University's first two faculties, agriculture and

Though much of the teaching and research now take place in the newer,
better-equipped facilities built during the past 10 years, those first
buildings are still an integral part of the university's mission. The old
agriculture laboratory, located on the university farm, serves as an
outreach clinic for local farmers. Other buildings are used for student work
and farm activities. 

The school hopes to develop its own archive center on the site.

In preparation for the 10th anniversary celebration, the university is
staging a series of events throughout the year. Those include:
7	The Inaugural Africa University International Marathon on Sept. 28.
7	A dialogue bringing African scholars and heads of colleges together
with top officials of United Methodist-related colleges, universities and
seminaries on Nov. 15.
7	The dedication of the South Carolina Annual Conference-funded
faculty of theology building and a three-story dormitory funded by the South
Indiana Conference on Nov. 16.
7	A naming ceremony for the 10 staff houses built by Volunteers in
Mission teams on Nov. 16.
# # #
*Stevens is coordinator for Africa University's 10th anniversary

United Methodist News Service
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