THE first batch of 20 musicians who underwent a two-year training course with the Zimbabwe College of Music received their Bachelor of Music degrees at a colourful ceremony held in Harare last week.

The college that has struck a partnership with Africa University also awarded 25 certificates and seven diplomas.

Among the 20 musicians were jazz artistes Dumi Ngulube, Philbert Marova, Owen Chimuka and music lecturer Clayton Ndlovu, who is also a Studio 263 actor. Chimuka made history when he became the best student in jazz music, best student in jazz and ethnomusicology combined and for his efforts, walked away with the Special Award Student on the Dean’s List.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony, the Secretary for Higher and Tertiary Education, Dr Washington Mbizvo, who was the guest of honour, described the event as a special occasion for all artistes.

“Today we bear testimony to a breakthrough that has been made by Africa University and the Zimbabwe College of Music in providing the much-needed mechanism for sharpening those talents through higher education,” Dr Mbizvo said.

Saluting the Africa University Senate, Dr Mbizvo said the university had shifted the landscape of emerging societal demands.

“I believe one of the key functions of the university in the 21st century is to inspire individuals and enable them to develop their capacities in whatever fields or areas they may wish. Africa University has left a footprint on this path of the globe,” he said.

Dr Mbizvo expressed hope that Zimbabwe would draw on the skills, insights and competencies endowed in the graduates to provide quality music for radio, television and other media.

He revealed that the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Dr Stan Mudenge, would lead a delegation to China to forge links with the People’s Republic of China in a variety of tertiary education areas including the creation of cultural exchange schemes in the arts.

Dr Mbizvo hoped the historic occasion would inspire musicians, music educators and scholars of arts to excel in their chosen careers, whether it be music or dance.

He also pledged to engage authorities in his ministry to mobilise funds to pay decent salaries to lecturers at the Zimbabwe College of Music, which he said should be treated just like any other tertiary institution.

The graduation ceremony was spiced with entertainment from various performers and graced by celebrities from Studio 263, the popular soap that has kept Zimbabweans glued to their TVs for the last five years.

Source: The Herald Monday, September 03, 2007