-By Patseni Mauka
On 25th July,2015, the social media was awash with congratulatory messages to Special Advisor to Malawi President Peter Mutharika, Ben Phiri, for obtaining what they called a Doctorate degree. My immediate reaction after reading the messages was to join the bandwagon and congratulate him. But curious me also wanted to know which university the man others call ‘Prime Minister graduated from and what area he studied. I was also interested to know how he jumped from not having a first Degree and Masters Degree to a Ph.D! I posted on numerous Facebook groups including ‘My Malawi My Views’ and Kusanthula Za Kukhosi Pa Malawi’.Immediately after doing this, a barrage of attacks on me came from left to right. Young ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters called Cadets loyal to Ben Phiri accused me of jealousy and lack of manners. According to them, it was Ben Phiri’s moment and I was only trying to spoil it because I hate him. They told me how Ben Phiri ‘worked so hard’ to get his new academic credentials. A fast count showed I was alone battling numerous angry people.
I am not one to back off for attacks on me that have no logical facts. The majority of the cadets didn’t even know what their leader was studying and at which university. It took one cadet who must have attended the graduation ceremony to post a scanned copy of a graduation ceremony programme with names of the graduates, one of them being Ben Phiri. I learned that the graduation ceremony was held at Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe. I also learned from the scanned copies that he graduated with a ‘Ph.D in Leadership Philosophy’ from ‘Cypress International Institute’ , Texas, U.S.A.
A quick google search showed that Cypress International Institute does not exist on the internet. It has no website, no any mention by anybody, news or article. Later, I was told the institution name is actually Cyprus and not Cypress which means the graduation pamphlet might have been wrong. A google search showed some Cyprus International Institute but not from Texas and which doesn’t offer the degrees which Ben Phiri and others obtained at BICC.
An article in the Daily Times of 21st July,2015 indicated that the Vice Chancellor of the institution is Professor Gusto Tuweh Gadama. A search of Professor Gadama on the internet yielded a result that shows that going by the name Professor Dr. Prince Gadama, he is a Board Advisor of some Cypress Bible College/Institute of US. On its website, Cypress Bible Institute (CBI) indicates that through its’ Apostolic curriculum and home Bible College correspondence program, it seeks to:
Help students have the ability to rightly divide the Scriptures.
Impart the Oneness message of Acts 2:38 for Bible salvation.
Prepare students for the specific local and foreign ministries to which they have been called.
There is absolutely nothing about the academic degrees that were presented by Professor Gadama at BICC!
In his profile on the same website, Professor Gadama is said to be the founder of Gospel Outreach Church International, Apostolic International Organization, and Jerusalem Christian Bible College. The profile further says he is the author of 116 Books comprising of the following: Creativity Studies, Counseling, Ministry, Theological Syllabuses, Doctrinal Subjects, Christian Life Growth, Leadership, Church Government, Health Studies, etc. None of these books and absolutely none was found on the internet. Not on Amazon, any seller or publishers’ website.
Academically, the profile says he is the holder of several diplomas, degrees, and Doctorate degrees, as well as honorary Doctorate degrees. It says he has diplomas in Philosophy of Theology with Christian Leadership International Institute in Republic of Mozambique, Associate Degree in Theology with International Bible College in South Africa, Bachelor Degree in Philosophy of Theology with University of South Africa, Masters Degree in Philosophy of Theology with Jerusalem University, Doctorate Degree in Religious Philosophy with University of Cambridge, Doctorate Degree in World History with the University of Helsink, Doctorate Degree in Counseling with University of Lasapuenzo. Doctorate Degree in Church management with University Kingdom as well as Doctorate Degree in Leadership Skills and Management with University of Zambia.
He has several Honorary Doctor Degrees from universities and institutes. Not even one thesis for these degrees was found during a search on the internet. No resaerch paper, conference proceedings, workshop reports or just any mention in an academic report about this highly educated Professor was found on the internet .
The only results that were found in abundance on the internet were articles of Professor Gadama presenting academic degrees and honorary degrees to different people in different countries. In all these graduation ceremonies, he was being referred to as the Vice Chancellor of colleges and institutes with different names. It seems this highly distinguished son of Malawi is a Vice Chancellor of many institutions.
An article of February 21st , 2012 on allafrica.com shows that Prof. Gadama presided over a graduation ceremony at the New Water in the Desert Apostolic Pentecostal Church in Brewerville, Libereia. He presented honorary and academic degrees from the International School of Ministry (ISOM) facilitated by Vision International College. Prof. Gadama, presided over the ceremony in his capacity as Vice Chancellor for Africa.
In an article of 26th November, 2014 on inprofiledaily.com, in his capacity as the Vice Chancellor of the Cypress Bible College Prof. Gadama presented a Ph.D (Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Religious Study) to Bishop Benda of Liberia amidst hundreds of international students on behalf of the organization. The same article refers Professor Gadama as the founder of the Jerusalem Christian Bible College in Lilongwe.
In a 16th December, 2013 article on Nyasa Times, Prof. Gadama, now in his capacity as Vice Chancellor of the Univeristy of Jerusalem, presented honorary doctorates to former Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara, former Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President John Tembo, former General Secretary of the C.C.A.P Livingstonia Synod Rev Levi Nyondo and owner of New Era Private Schools Mrs Evelyn Jesman.
Apart from Presenting Ben Phiri with an ‘academic’ Ph.D at the 25th July, 2015 graduation ceremony, Prof. Gadama also presented Honorary Degrees to musicians Ethel Kamwendo and Wambali Mkandawire.
The facts so far indicate that Prof. Gadama backed by his American friends is running well organized diploma mills calling them different names according to the weather,year and place. All the institutions that he has used to present the degrees are a scam. Many of them do not have any footprints on the internet. It is normal that academic institutions have many foot prints on the internet emanating from different academic activities including workshops, conferences and research articles.
Furthermore, Professor Gadama is a fake professor who claims to have many degrees and 116 books to his name. A Professor of that calibre would have his academic work found all over the internet but for Gadama none was found! These people are just milking the unsuspecting gullible people desperate for some degree to raise their profile. They are also using celebrities to market their diploma mills by giving them honorary degrees. It is incredible how high profile people in Malawi could not notice that Gadama and his institutions are nothing but a scam. It is worrying that some of these people are running the Malawi government. If they can’t notice this diploma mill scam, how can Malawians trust them with running of government business? The news of ‘Dr.’ Ben Phiri is already on Malawi Government news website and the public broadcasting institution Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC). The fact that the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) and MBC did not do a research on this bogus Ph.D from a nonexistent institution shows that some of those running these institutions are either idiots or puppets dancing to the tune of this powerful Presidential Advisor who also controls the President and all government business. With people of such calibre running the government including advising the President, it is no wonder Malawi remains one of the poorest countries in the world. We we are not about to improve if we continue having such mediocre characters at the centre of government!