People: Mzee Sebiguri was never too old to learn

It is not equally flabbergasting any more if you choose to walk into our local Universities for instance; one of these fine evenings and find people rivaling your grandfather’s age, seeking knowledge.
Sebiguri celebrated his graduation with his family members. The Sunday Times / M. Kirui.
Sebiguri celebrated his graduation with his family members. The Sunday Times / M. Kirui.

It is not equally flabbergasting any more if you choose to walk into our local Universities for instance; one of these fine evenings and find people rivaling your grandfather’s age, seeking knowledge. Aloys Sebiguri might perfectly fit this description; seeking knowledge at an advanced age.

When a colleague at work told Mzee Sebiguri that even in his old age, he could go to school and earn a degree, the old man couldn’t believe it. In fact, in his own words, he reproached the colleague who was much younger in age than him for such disrespect and humiliation; the old man was quite offended that this young man was taunting him for having never won a gown- what an insult!

Six years down the road, Mzee Sebiguri, a resident of Gisenyi, Rubavu District, Western Province, doesn’t regret the young colleague’s “insult”. The old man enrolled for a diploma in Law at the Kigali Independent University and has since achieved and finally graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Law.

Ever heard of ‘going beyond the obvious ‘?  That’s what Sebiguri did, he overcame the popular phenomenon that graduands should be youths and young to cope with the over demanding learning conditions.

Determined and now victorious, Sebiguri,  a 66-year-old father of six, regardless of all odds was able to complete his studies and was one of the graduands and in fact the president of the 2012 graduating class at the Kigali Independent University-Gisenyi Campus.

You’re only as old as you feel - a motto that certainly guided Sebiguri to achieve. He however explains how he had to struggle to cope up with the other students- the fast learners “thanks to their young age.”

“It’s taken me quite a long time because I’ve had a busy life. I’m finally achieving it, and it makes me feel really good.

“Nevertheless, I had to go an extra mile to understand what was being taught, I spent all the free time I had revising and trying to cope up with other students who could comprehend everything in one sitting,” recounts Sebiguri.

 It was not easy for him but he fought the hard battle to the fruitful end and all with joy and sense of accomplishments. On graduation day, he sat keenly, sinking in his regalia, following the proceedings. And as the other graduands celebrated a normal occasion, for him, it was a long due jiffy and a dream come true. He admitted that in collecting his historical honours he had fulfilled a 66-year old ambition.

His age was not perhaps the astonishing factor but being in school with his two children a son and a daughter, both graduating the same day with degrees in management, made it even multifaceted.

Ignace Niyibizi, 32, and Everlyne Nidusenge, 33, joined their father at ULK-Gisenyi Campus to study management. They both hail their hardworking father for the job well done. However, they both confirm that it was not normal sharing a class with their father especially when they had to meet for the general requirements courses.

“We’ve been going to the same church and had other meetings under one roof with our father but being together in the same class under one     Instructor was totally strange,” explained Nidusenge, Sebiguri’s daughter.

One can imagine the situation here; it is always a father’s duty to counsel, advice and even reprimand their children when it comes to school performance and many can bear witness that our fathers used to be ‘number one’, that is if what they said was true. But I guess they did this to encourage and motivate us because we would not have suddenly verified what they said.

Now putting yourself in Sebiguri’s shoes, he did not have that privilege because the people he had ‘to lie’ to in the name of motivation, certainly knew his performance and most definitely were better than him.

Understanding and having a perfect idea of what their father was going through; paying school fees, working and taking care of other family responsibilities as the head of the family, Nidusenge and Niyibizi accorded their father all the motivation, appreciation, respect and support he needed.

“Being in school with dad later on became a nice experience and we appreciated every step he took and the biggest thing that we can all learn is that we’re never too old,” declared Niyibizi. 

Sebiguri agrees that all was not easy but the vision he had, the courage and the support of a loving and visionary Prof. Rwigamba Balinda, the president and founder of ULK made him and his two children manage.

“I had a job and I for a long time saved money for our education, but it was not sufficient to cater for our undergraduate fees. After getting my diploma the president and founder of ULK helped us raise school fees for our undergraduate studies” Sebiguri says.

Both he and the two children had to raise at least Rwf1.6 Million per year to meet their educational requirements.

Sebiguri maintains that one must have knowledge that has no end for them to survive in this changing and demanding world. His quest for knowledge and optimism made him strive to achieve his ambition regardless of all the challenges ranging from the payment of fees to his old age.

The three too had words of praise to their husband and mother, other siblings and family members for their continued support during their studies.

“Without their support and prayers we would most definitely have not made it” asserted Nidusenge.

“Some people do give up the idea or postpone the idea. It’s too late. It’s too much work. They may not realise that, once you try it, it’s exciting to go to school,” advises Sebiguri

 

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