The 2019 Graduation ceremony of the university of Buea took place on 13 December at the Herbert Njanjo Amphitheatre named after the first registrar of that university. This ceremony started at 11.45 minutes, instead of 9 am as previously announced on the Radio. Many eyewitnesses saw this, and rightly so, as a success. All the same some aspects caught the attention of the vigilant persons. This report points them out, with the intention of helping the students, the staff and the University Public Relations experts to improve on its organisation for better results.
The Amphitheatre was full about an hour into the event although all the 3225 graduating students were not present. At the beginning though, it was glaring that 1/3 of the graduating students came late. Among the participants were parents, university staff, hawkers and unidentified group of persons seeking for attention. Unwanted noise from the students, and from the fan club dancing to tunes without rhythm, filled the ceremonial grounds. The music played by the sound system with high volume wasn’t any better.
Many persons were invited either to say prayers during the ecumenical services, to make speeches, or to introduce the graduating students. The lack of mastery of public speaking techniques or the absence of coaching, caused untold stress to all the speakers as they kept on repeating themselves while on the rostrum. Also, participants were misdirected to open the wrong page of the ceremony booklet as they were asked to turn to page 82 for the university hymn which rather contained a church song titled. “To God be the glory”, a clear indication of printing errors.
The dressing of some participants especially that of ladies called for attention. Aside of the exaggerated make-up visible through foundations, multicolour lipsticks, powdered faces, added eyelids, female students especially, were dressed in short and tight-fitting colourful attires giving the whole university campus a Christmas tree-like atmosphere. Added to that were high heel shoes making walking an arduous task. Some ladies were supported for them to move. A good number of them having arrived the ceremonial grounds with high heel shoes, returned home wearing sleepers.
All these lapses may be avoided and behaviours changed if a proper communication and public relations strategy is put in place. That could also prevent participants from spending more time on their phones than paying attention to the event proper given that 3 out of every 10 persons present were manipulating their smart phones and finally that 2/3 of the graduating students left the Amphitheatre before the official closing of this ceremony.
This notwithstanding the whole ceremony witnessed a resounding success thanks to the choice of venue with a capacity fit to receive the entire Buea population and beyond, the enormous efforts put in place by the university administration under the leadership of the vice chancellor Horace Manga, the public relations and communication experts is worthy of emulation .
The joy, happiness and satisfaction this ceremony brings to students, parents and the population at large is of great importance. Petit businesses stand to make significant financial gains. The food industry cannot be forgotten in terms of sales and consumption. After the graduation ceremony, there is food for all and sundry in the homes of graduated students, in restaurants and hotels in buea. The entire community will always look forward to this graduation ceremony.