October 18, 2017

My First Commencement Speech: The Importance of Ice

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Graduates, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: it is my pleasure to be here. This is the first time I have been invited to be the guest speaker at a graduation event. I want to thank Multimedia Institute of Ghana for giving me that honor. Please give them a round of applause.

Now, my speech will be very short. If you think of ice, you will always remember this speech. How do you spell ice? I-C-E. Now ice is cool but my speech will talk about different aspects of ice. I in my speech stands for inspire, C stands for change and E stands for education. So, inspire, change, educate.

For young people who have completed an academic program, they normally say: “I have finished!” They think that is the end of everything. I want to tell you that this is the beginning of a new stage. You have closed one door and you are entering into a new place.


Let us start with I – to inspire. To inspire means to breathe in. To inspire also means to fill somebody with the ability to do something. When you say “Ama is my inspiration, Ama inspires me as an MC”, she fills you with the desire to be like her. If your father inspired you to do what you are doing now, it means your father filled you with the desire or the ability to go through the course and finish it.

Why is it important for young people like you and indeed all of us to be inspired? Inspiration is important. It is almost as important as air and that is why one of its meanings is to breathe in. If you don’t breathe for two minutes, you may die. It’s as simple as that. You need air but people don’t only need air, they need inspiration.

I’m sure all of you in your academic gowns and mortar boards are feeling very proud while you think about the course you went through and the people who sacrificed to get you where you are. But I am telling you that as a graduate, your work hasn’t ended. Now you have to go and inspire other people. You have to go and fill other people with the desire to also come out and do something. So it is a big responsibility you have. You don’t just take beautiful pictures and that’s the end. No. You have to go out there and inspire people.

I was listening to the story of Nana Kwaku Duah, the founder of Multimedia Institute of Ghana. He inspired many people from a dream. I just love his motto: Don’t Dream Evil Dreams. We are sitting in his dream and I’m sure he will tell you he was inspired by somebody to make his dream come true. When you go out and you don’t inspire somebody else, you would have wasted your time here. So please, think about it. You’re going out, not just to get a job but also to inspire people. Graduands, go out there and inspire!

C is for CHANGE

It’s not only for political parties. In fact we are sitting in change right now because of what happened in December 2016. But people who come to school are also supposed to inspire change. You came in with limited knowledge of whatever you wanted to study and at the end of your program, you now have more knowledge. But that knowledge is not for you alone. It’s not a paper to put on your wall and say “Me too I am a graduate! Me too I’ve gone to school! This is me!” No. Your education must change other people. If your education doesn’t change other people, you’ve wasted your time. Somebody has educated you and it has come to nothing. If we have educated people and Ghana does not change, we’ve wasted our time. They’ve spent school fees on us, we’ve studied, we’ve made friends, we’ve burned the midnight oil, mosquitoes have bitten us and nothing has come of it. So please, remember that it’s not only about you and your certificate and the selfies. You have to go out and change things. If you don’t want to change things, forget it. Nothing will happen.

So remember: I stands for INSPIRE, C stands for CHANGE and…

E is for EDUCATE

You’re probably asking “What is this man talking about? I’ve spent time in school. I’ve graduated and he’s still talking about education?” Listen, your education starts when you finish school. Believe it. The moment you finish school, that’s when the real education actually begins. You’re going out of here but you have to keep educating yourself. You have to keep yourself relevant. If you studied advertising or sound engineering or marketing and use that knowledge alone to think that you will make a change in the world and inspire people, you are lying.

Knowledge is evolving every day. There is new knowledge everywhere. You don’t even have to come to school to learn things. I read the story of a Kenyan man who wanted to be a javelin champion. There were no javelin coaches near him so he went onto the internet – the same internet we use to send funny jokes, funny videos and prayers. He used YouTube videos to teach himself how to throw the javelin. He educated himself. Guess what? He’s the current champion of his country. Go and check it on the same internet. Just by educating himself on the internet, he became a star and represented his country at 2 Olympic Games. And you know what happens when you represent your county and you win? They play your national anthem for you. An honor that we reserve for the president.

Education doesn’t just end here, or in any school. It continues beyond school so please keep in mind that you must always develop yourself. Doctors and engineers have something they call continuous professional development. Every year they have to attend a seminar or take a course and they get points for doing that. If they don’t get sufficient points, their licenses may be withdrawn. So educate yourself. Nobody is going to tell you to educate yourself. You have to remind yourself all the time. Keep reading, keep listening to the news, go online and do the things you have to do to make yourself fantastic!

The next time you think of ice, think of it as to inspire (I), to change (C), to educate (E). I wish you the very best in your life beyond Multimedia Institute. Thank you very much and God bless you!