For thousands of University students realising their dream of finally obtaining their qualification seems like a distant dream. When they look at the number of assignments they still need to hand in, the presentations to be done, exams to study for and the number of 07h30 classes they have missed; they may feel like they are stuck in varsity for a long time to come. For a fortunate few this dream becomes a reality after years of hard work and determination. The long walk to freedom heads straight to the Safari Hotel and Conference Centre.
During the month of April, Namibians do not only prepare them self for the Christian holiday of Passover – they are also in celebratory mood. Graduates are on the look out for their outfits, the car they will be arriving in and ultimately the party they will be throwing. Ladies prepare their eye brows to be on fleek, nails done and hair extensions weaved. The guys on the other hand import leather shoes from Thailand, finest suits from Italy, not forgetting the Gucci perfume. This may once again be a reminder of one’s matric farewell but the only difference is that your qualification will be handed to you on that day. One easily forgets that not all graduates are as excited about the event. As for them it’s just one more challenge they managed to conquer.
This is by far one of the greatest milestones a University student can attain. It is one that is celebrated not only by the graduate but also by those most dear and near to them. The parents, relatives, neighbours and friends wait in anticipation for their sons and daughters to be dressed in their black gowns to receive their qualifications. Recently speculation seemed rife that there may be a change in venue as Safari Hotel is firstly very costly to host the event at and secondly the venue cannot accommodate the increasing number of graduates. This calls for a change in tradition to a venue that has become synonymous to the graduation ceremony for most Namibians.
With all the hype surrounding the graduation day, The Lounge engaged with a few graduates to find out what their sentiments are in regards to this day and if the hype is generic among them.
The paper Vs the party
For most graduates it is more important to obtain the paper, than to have a graduation party. Hosea Hashili, an Engineering graduate from Namibia University of Science and Technology says to him the after party is very insignificant in comparison to the actual degree. “I don’t intend on hosting a graduation party, what is important is that I collect my degree at Safari,” he said.
With an entirely different stance from that of Hashili, Helena Shilongo a Biomedical Science graduate from the University of Namibia says that the graduation party exists as a result of her degree. She says that she has every reason to celebrate her achievement with a party as the party will be her gesture of thanking all the people who have played a role in ensuring she graduates. “The party will be a token of appreciation,” Helena said.
“It’s a big thing for my parents and I am only organizing a small gathering for their sake,” said Shoopala Shoopala. He is a Public Management graduate from Namibia University of Science and Technology. ‘I would gladly be in a party mood if I was an employed graduate but that’s not the case,” Shoopala said.
The Venue counts
To some graduates the venue is of importance and graduating from Safari Hotel has been a lifelong dream but for others the venue has no relevance. Hashili is of the notion that if Ramatex would be the graduation venue its interior standards should be equivalent to that of Safari. “What makes Safari unique is the historical component assigned to it by generations of graduates,” he said.
Samuel Ndugula sided with Hashili’s notion as a meaning has been attached to Safari. “How would I explain to my relatives that have travelled all the way from the north that the venue has been changed?” he said. Samuel says that the venue has become part of the university culture and experience which is something that graduates would not want to be denied of.
One would question why a graduation outfit would even be necessary considering that the graduate would have a gown on. Surprisingly, what is under the gown matters just as much.
“Your outfit describes the significance of your degree,” said Hashili. He narrated that for him the graduation suit is paramount as he likes to dress well and also will take pictures to remember the day. “You would want to look good when you go on a date so why not wear your best outfit to your graduation day,” Hashili said.
Shoopala Shoopala echoed a different sentiment as what he wore on the day will not really matter. “I mean at the end of the day it’s just a clothing item,” he said. Shoopala feels that for an unemployed graduate such as himself spending money on a graduation outfit is the last thing on his mind.
“I began graduation outfit shopping months ago, I already informed my uncles and aunts that they need to pay for my hair and nails because I need to look beautiful” said Helena. She believes that it’s not every day that one would graduate and just like on your wedding day one would like to wear a special garment and the same applies to your graduation day. “It’s your day to feel a sense of achievement and to look better than everyone in the room,” she laughs.
The future surely belongs to those that believe in their dreams. And graduating from university is means that your dream has come to life. It may take more time than anticipated before you graduate, however obtaining your degree is something no one can take away from you. The mere fact that you graduated calls for celebration.