Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in urban design last week by the School of Architecture and Building Sciences at Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta University.
“It is a very great honour and a privilege to be conferred this Honorary Degree in Urban Design by such a distinguished School,” Mrs. Tibaijuka, said when she received the award in a ceremony presided over by Professor Ali Mazrui, Chancellor of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
“As new graduates you will have far greater responsiblities on your shoulders as the new generation of young leaders moving up to take the helm from us. It is my sincere hope that in doing so, you will remember that part of what makes great cities and great nations is not just grandiose projects or schemes, it is also about the quality of the space we share in our daily lives,” she told more than 2,500 graduands constituting the highest number of students to be awarded their degrees since the university was established 14 years ago.
She said urban poverty had become a severe and pervasive feature of modern life in Kenya and other African countries.
Prof. Mazrui cited tribalism and corruption as among impediments to national unity in Kenya and other African countries. "I would therefore like to urge graduands in our public universities to rise above these vices. They should learn to continue to love their clans and tribes without being unjust to other clans or tribes," he said. “The new generation should realise that there can be no rise to the commanding heights of technological renaissance if there is no simultaneous flowering of a renaissance in human relations."
Prior to joining the UN, Mrs. Tibaijuka pursued an active academic career as a Professor of Economics at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. She is the author of various books and research papers on agriculture and rural development, farming systems, food policy, agricultural marketing and trade, sustainable development, social services delivery, gender and land issues, and environmental economics. She was an active member of the civil society and the women’s movement. In 1994 she founded the Tanzanian National Women’s Council, BAWATA, an independent non-party affiliated organization fighting for women’s economic and social rights. In 1996 she founded Barbro Johannson Girls’ Education Trust (Joha Trust)
that advocates for quality girls’ education in Tanzania and Africa and operates a model secondary school for poor girls, mostly orphans. She is patron of Tanzania Young Entrepreneurs Initiative. She is a member of various professional associations and is a veteran of UN world summits, including the Beijing Women’s Conference, the Copenhagen Social Summit, Habitat II at Istanbul, and the Food Summit in Rome. She is winner of several awards including honorary Doctorate degrees conferred by the University of McGill in Canada, University College London, and Herriot Watt in Scotland. She is a Foreign Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture.