Sophia University conferred an honorary doctorate to His Excellency Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão
On November 26, Sophia University conferred an honorary doctorate to His Excellency Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, former President of the Democratic Republic of East Timor.
H.E. Dr. Gusmão was a leader of the independence movement in East Timor, aiming for a peaceful solution, and served as the country's first president and prime minister. Later, as the leader of the National Congress for the Reconstruction of East Timor, he made efforts in domestic politics and diplomacy. He is also deeply sympathetic to the educational activities of the Jesuits, the founding body of Sophia University, and has played an essential role in deepening ties between the government of East Timor and the country's St. Ignatius College (a Jesuit-run school and one of Sophia University's designated overseas schools). These achievements have been highly recognized around the world and are in line with the founding spirit of the university, hence the conferral was made.
The ceremony was moderated by Professor Shintaro Fukutake of the Faculty of Global Studies, opened by an address by President Yoshiaki Terumichi and the awarding of the honorary degrees. Following a congratulatory address was made by Chancellor Tsutomu Sakuma, a commemorative lecture was given by H.E. Dr. Gusmão.
In his opening remarks, H.E. Dr. Gusmão expressed his gratitude for receiving an honorary doctorate from Sophia University, the legacy of St. Ignatius de Loyola, who devoted himself to making the world a better place.
In his lecture, he began by describing the post-World War II era and introduced two Jesuit priests who established a school in East Timor and supported young people in their struggle against the occupation. During the struggle, they looked forward to a new world order that would bring stability, economic and social welfare and development, which supported the continued battle. Realizing that the enemy could not be defeated by military means, the motto became, to resist is to win.
He then recalled his experiences during the ceasefire process in 1983, the massacre in Santa Cruz in 1991, and his imprisonment in 1992. While noting that East Timor had to wait 16 years for its independence in 1999, he introduced the words of UN Secretary-General António Guterres: "The independence of East Timor proved that the UN and multilateralism can work and that conflicts can be resolved in negotiations.
He also referred to the current pandemic and climate change issues from 9.11 and pointed out that the new world order has created a huge disparity between the rich North and the poor South, and those vulnerable countries are being used as battlefields by the major powers. On the other hand, he addressed that only from the places like universities, where there are so many talented young people, changes can be brought. He encouraged students “to commit and just do it” in order to build a better future.
After the lecture, a bouquet of flowers was presented on behalf of the students by Ms. Wakana Imayoshi and Ms. Mouzinho Freitas Geovania Garret. Ms. Garret is one of the students from East Timor studying at Sophia University. H.E. Dr. Gusmão presented each of them with a piece of tais, a typical East Timorese handicraft. After the ceremony, we moved to a different venue and held a round-table discussion with international students from East Timor, Sophia students, and students from other universities.