Strive Masiyiwa's Induction into American Academy is a story about African Wealth, Identity and Global Recognition

What are the most important academic institutions in Zimbabwe and their honorary members? How come our public institutions are managed passively and survive on a hand-to-mouth basis. Recently, I pondered on these questions and it was during this contemplation that I stumbled upon the news of Zimbabwe's richest man, Strive Masiyiwa's recent induction into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This event prompts reflection on the dynamics of wealth, identity, and the role of these prestigious institutions.

Strive Masiyiwa

In a Facebook post, Strive Masiyiwa shared the story of the institution's founding, dating back 243 years. "About two weeks ago, my wife and I travelled to Cambridge Massachusetts, the home of Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where I was inducted into the membership of one of the most revered institutions in the world." Founded during the American Revolution in 1780, the academy's mission, as articulated by John Adams, centers on advancing the interests, honour, dignity, and happiness of free, independent, and virtuous people.

The Academy's historical context is intriguing. Originally, its membership was limited to a select group of Americans, but over time, it expanded to include international members. The first international member, a French national, was elected in 1781. This internationalization assisted the institution's global significance and influence.

Notably, Mr. Masiyiwa becomes the second Zimbabwean to join the Academy, following Dr. James Manyika, an Artificial Intelligence expert at Google. Dr. Manyika's path to membership, however, took a different route due to his American citizenship. This raises questions about the relationship between wealth, citizenship, and identity. Despite Mr. Masiyiwa not having set foot in Zimbabwe for over 20 years, he has managed to preserve his Zimbabwean identity through his wealth. In contrast, Dr. Manyika had to relinquish his Zimbabwean citizenship in order to unlock opportunities to achieve certain heights.

This story touches on the essence of identity and how individuals with resources can use them to maintain their connection to their home countries. It showcases the global reach of institutions like the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, where outstanding individuals from various backgrounds and nationalities come together. 

This tale of achievement and identity is not unique to Strive Masiyiwa and James Manyika. The American Academy of Arts & Sciences has a rich history of inducting remarkable individuals from around the world. Distinguished Africans, including Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, Wole Soyinka, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, have been honoured as International Honorary Members, embodying the Academy's commitment to global relevance.

In his Facebook post, Mr. Masiyiwa dedicates this recognition to inspiring young African entrepreneurs and those pursuing knowledge-based excellence. He acknowledges the role of philanthropy in solving society's most pressing issues and encourages others to follow suit. "Even though I did not speak at the induction ceremony, I would have dedicated the award to inspiring young Entrepreneurs of Africa like so many of you, as well as those across the continent who seek Knowledge-based excellence in their fields of endeavour." he writes. "Africa is on the move. Not a moment to lose."

The induction of Strive Masiyiwa into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences is not just a personal achievement but a source of pride for Zimbabwe and Africa. It's a story of preserving identity, pursuing knowledge, and making a meaningful impact on society. It also notes the importance of Zimbabwean Academic institutions to be intentional about their existence by tapping into their alumni and other influential members of the society.

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Mungwadzi Godwin

twitterinstagramI like sharing positive stories about Zimbabweans at home and abroad. I also write articles on Personal Finance, Fashion, Music, and Tech. Let's connect!

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