Alum Tonderai Chikuhwa to Speak at Macalester College Commencement
St. Paul, Minn. - March 24, 2009 -Tonderai Chikuhwa ’96, senior program officer in the United Nations Office for Children and Armed Conflict, is Macalester College’s 2009 commencement speaker. Commencement will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 16, at the college.
Chikuhwa advocates for children in such places as Sudan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sri Lanka, and Colombia, and is working to implement a global mechanism to monitor and report on grave child rights violations in these and other conflict zones. He is driven by his personal encounters with children ravaged by warfare. As he says, “Once you have been with the children, it is not possible to turn your back on them.”
“Tonderai lives Macalester’s values in his daily work, as exemplified by his passion and commitment to improving conditions for the world’s children living in war zones,” said Macalester President Brian Rosenberg. “We are delighted he has accepted our invitation to speak to our 2009 graduates, who are the next generation of global citizens and leaders.”
A 1996 Macalester College graduate, Chikuhwa has worked at the United Nations since 1999. As Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Chikuhwa spent years in the field as a child protection advisor in Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, and Liberia, going into the bush to negotiate with commanders and persuade children to lay down their AK47s. During this time, he secured the release of nearly 3,000 children conscripted into the armed forces or rebel armies.
In June, Chikhuwa will receive Macalester College’s Charles J. Turck Global Citizen Award, which recognizes an alumnus who has advanced the cause of the internationalist spirit by providing inspirational leadership, impacting the international community and lived as a citizen of the world, promoting global understanding, peace and justice. The award honors one of Macalester’s most respected leaders. As president of the college from 1939 to 1958, it was Turck who first raised the flag of the United Nations as a symbol of the college’s commitment to international harmony.
Chikhuwa grew up in Sweden and Zimbabwe, attended the United World College in Swaziland, and then majored in political science and international studies at Macalester, where he received the Internationalism Award for 1996. He subsequently earned a master’s degree in political science at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 1,884 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism and civic engagement.