Anticipating Greater Things
The month March is behind us, but the excitement it generated for some of us continues, although with mixed feelings. The reality of Fr. Chuks Afiawari, SJ as 'former rector' of Arrupe College, ensures that many in the college wear long faces. However, the memory of the beautiful time spent together with him brings joy and consolation to many. Furthermore, the seeming enthusiasm of the new rector, Fr. Gibson Munyoro, SJ, and the anticipation of greater things to come registers sparks of joy in the hearts of many.
The anticipation of greater things to come was heightened by the visit of the new JESAM President, Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, SJ. Orobator's presidential visit spanned between March 23rd -31st, 2017.
The first of what will become his annual visitation as JESAM President saw him meet with faculty members, administrative and support staff, and students. The meeting with the students was a particularly warm one, where he expressed his deep satisfaction with the direction Arrupe College is headed as a Jesuit Higher Institution. His satisfaction, he describes, emanated from the three major events he witnessed during his time of visitation in the college. Firstly, he was the chief celebrant of the electrifying handover Mass that inaugurated the new rector of the college. Secondly, he was part of the audience that watched the brilliant performance of a Play, Signatures of Our Time, written and performed by the Theatre Arts Class of Arrupe College immediately after the handover Mass. Thirdly, he cheered with pleasure as he watched various students receive awards for exceptional performance during the concluded Rector's Cup Competition, where Vincent Sylvester Wada, SJ, emerged as the best basketball player of the competition. In Orobator's words, "these events show how much energy we put into the life of our mission here, and how we are striking a balance between all ramifications of our life here".
The handover Mass, which took place on Wednesday 25th March 2017, was particularly spectacular, as not only was Orobator the chief celebrant, but he was also the homilist. In honesty, most looked forward to listening to the JESAM President's words of life. Indeed, we were not disappointed. The Mass drew friends and well-wishers of Arrupe College from all corners of Harare and beyond, as the Chapel of the Holy Name overflowed with people. Not only were the congregants thrilled by amazing singing of the renowned Arrupe College Choir, but also by the emotions that characterized the handover ceremony, most notably was the former rector, Fr. Chuks Afiawari's final gratitude-filled speech to the college for the time well spent as rector. His piercing words, rendered in the dramatic fashion synonymous with Chuks, almost drew some members of the congregation to tears. Indeed, he will be sorely missed.
The Play, Signatures of Our Time, was written by Uchechukwu Oguike, SJ with the Theatre Arts Class. It featured, amongst several other students of the class, some of ours namely Pius Ndekile, SJ, Chinonso Ugochukwu, SJ, and Uchechukwu Oguike, SJ. Pius and Chinonso took a different form in the Play, as they both featured as women. The Play raises several questions around issues including education, empowerment, creativity, heritage, and love for the African continent. The Play dares Africans to look inwards for strength and prosperity. Furthermore, it challenges the children of Africa to return to their roots and embrace their rich cultural heritage. The Play was also recently performed at Theatre in the Park, Harare Gardens, Harare. As expected, it left the audience, largely characterized by youths, elated.
These events give hope of greater things to come. As we bid farewell to the former rector, and look forward to collaborating with the new rector, we cannot help but count our blessings. The thoughts the Play provoked gives hope that children of Arrupe College, of Africa are in constant reflection on how to bring about the change we want to see in the continent. Indeed, we march on, anticipating greater things to come.
In the coming month of May, greater things will take different forms for each of us here. While the finalists look forward to new missions, the third years look forward to their teaching experiments in various high schools across Zimbabwe. While the second years look forward to a much-desired home leave, the first years look forward to language immersions and other experiences across various countries in the continent.
Wherever we march, we never cease to carry the greatness and fire we share at Arrupe College with us. We march, eager to tell our stories, even amidst difficulties and the pain of seeing good companions like Chuks and several finalists move on to new missions. As Gogo Mavuto, the character Pius Ndekile SJ played in the drama tells us, "until the Agu comes and tells its own side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter!".
Uchechukwu Oguike, SJ.