The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


South African Ambassador receives honorary degree from Chatham University

Photo Courtesy of Student Affairs

On Tuesday, October 21, Chatham University welcomed Ebrahim Rasool, South African Ambassador to the United States, as a part of the Global Focus Program.

As stated on the Chatham University website, “The Global Focus program, during which the entire Chatham community spends an academic year exploring in depth the history, culture, and people of a segment of the world, has been a hallmark of the Chatham University experience for nearly a decade.”

Specifically, the 2014-2015 Year of Southern Africa aims to focus on the countries that form the Southern African Development Community (SADC): Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Ambassador Rasool attended various sessions and speaking engagements throughout the day with students, staff, and faculty alike. His day started with an early breakfast conversation with the Chatham Scholars.

He began the discussion saying, “Figure out what you would die for, and then start living for it.” The student driven conversation addressed topics on globalization, community infrastructure, and the younger African populace, which will soon make up more than 50 percent of the continent’s population.

“We are each other’s keepers when it comes to a globalized world,” Ambassador Rasool said. Particularly in South Africa, Ambassador Rasool aims toward the common goal of forming an independent, unitary, democratic and non-racial state.

He referred to the Quran, the religious text of Islam, when saying there needs to be, “a world for all.” Ambassador Rasool’s progressive thinking advocates this is not impossible.

Following a tour of campus, the Ambassador dined with President Barazzone, and prominent members of the Pittsburgh and Chatham communities over lunch. He favored the evolution of Pittsburgh, hoping to model such development in South Africa.

“How do you not get weighed down in what you inherit? The knowledge of the past needs confidence in the future,” Ambassador Rasool said.

Speaking on the topic of diplomacy, Ambassador Rasool takes what he refers to as a triangular approach. This requires a strategic placement between the protagonist and antagonist. An even balance between past and future must be found, too, as the fear of letting go cannot overpower aspiration.

He also addressed the role women play in South African government and politics. Thirty-five percent of women make up the South African cabinet. South Africa is ranked third in the world for most women who sit in parliamentary positions, while the United States of America holds the seventy-fourth spot. Ambassador Rasool projects that the country is just a decade away from seeing a woman as President of South Africa.

A visit to Dr. Finewood’s Global Environmental Challenges course provided Ambassador Rasool with another chance to connect with Chatham students.

“Hearing about the methods the country of South Africa takes to conserve energy, I learned these measures are teaching the people they need to be more concerned about the environment they live in,” Skylar Benjamin, a sophomore student in the course, said.

An honorary degree ceremony awarded His Excellency Ebrahim Rasool with a Doctor of Public Service Degree. Remarks from Dr. Jean-Jacques Sène, Associate Professor of History and Coordinator of the Global Focus Program, and Dan Simpson, Chair of the Global Focus Advisory Board, credited Ambassador Rasool’s role in bringing modern investments to the Western Cape and development of post apartheid South Africa.

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

All Communiqué Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *