Eighty-three graduands were conferred with various certificates during the third graduation ceremony of the University for Peace (UPEACE) held in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Wednesday.
10 PhDs and 73 Masters graduates walked across the stage draped in colorful academic gowns, whispering tales of resilience and dreams woven into threads of knowledge.
Pride-filled family members applauded in joy as they witnessed the graduates receive their hard-earned laurels.
“They are the architects of a brighter future,” said Farah Dalal, a parent who supported his son through the proceeds of his carpentry.
“While hundreds of his peers risked the dangerous journey to Europe and other Western countries, I always encouraged my son to arm himself with knowledge. He heeded, and just as I imagined, his future appears better than mine,” he recounted gleefully.
Speaking at the event, the United Nations (UN) Special Representative for Somalia, Catriona Laing, spoke of the graduates as “beacons of hope in a nation (Somalia) yearning for peace and stability.
But beneath the celebratory veneer lies a story of grit and determination. Established in 2018, UPEACE Somalia is a beacon of academic excellence in a land scarred by conflict. The university rose from the ashes of war; its very existence is a testament to the unyielding human spirit’s thirst for peace and knowledge. Its early years were marked by makeshift classrooms and the constant hum of insecurity.
Yet, the faculty and students persevered, fueled by a shared dream of a Somalia where dialogue replaces bullets and reconciliation triumphs over division.
Dr. Mohamed Yusuf, UPEACE Somalia Country Director, captured the essence of this journey in his address: “To our cherished students, the bright minds of today, and the leaders of tomorrow, this day is yours. Your families, friends, and the dedicated faculty and administration of UPEACE share in your victory,” he noted.
Ewusi Regional Director, UPEACE Africa, stated that “the road ahead for Somalia may still be long and arduous, but the UPEACE graduates, armed with knowledge and a burning desire for a better future, represent a flicker of hope that refuses to be extinguished.”
He added, “Their history of the institution and the stories of the graduates, etched in the vibrant tapestry of this graduation ceremony, serve as a powerful reminder that even in the darkest of times, the human spirit’s capacity for resilience and the pursuit of peace can paint a future as bright as the Somali sun.”
In 2018, when UPEACE began offering its program in Mogadishu, President Hassan Sheikh was one of the first students to enroll in the university’s doctoral program.
The University for Peace (UPEACE) was established globally through UN General Assembly resolution 35/55 of December 5, 1980, to lessen the obstacles to peace enshrined by the United Nations Charter. Since its establishment, the university has been focusing on thematic areas such as conflict prevention, human security, human rights, environmental security, and post-conflict rehabilitation.
In late 2018, UPEACE expanded its operations to Somalia with the sole aim of building a fully-fledged campus in Mogadishu to aid Somalia’s post-conflict recovery.
In December 2022, during its second graduation, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud graduated with a PhD, becoming one of the few African leaders to achieve such a feat. Others are Kenya’s William Ruto, Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast, Moeketsi Majoro of Lesotho, and King Mohammed VI of Morocco.
The Somali Leader thesis focused on peace, governance, and development. He said his dissertation, which he defended in August, was titled ‘Examining the Challenges of Clan Politics in State-Building: A Case Study of Somalia.