Last Friday’s (October 30, 2015) candle lighting ceremony reminded me of Rose Kwamboka’s article Thou Shall not in the Pulse Magazine of the Standard Newspaper Friday June 5, 2015.

She wrote: “Before you graduate, you need to go through a candle lighting, where you light a candle in the dark and, are prayed for by a priest”

Any alumni, and am sure any Baratonian will forgive an uncle “Donald Trump - I don’t know” connotation that wants to allege that candle lighting is a ‘strange rule that meets new students in higher learning institution’ as the writer assumes. Candle lighting is a solemn culmination of a freshmen orientation as stipulated in the student handbook.

Let me use last Friday’s candle lighting ceremony to shade some light and submit that my alma matter runs its event in tandem with the mission of developing young people mentally, physically, socially and spiritually.

On Friday October 30, 2015 over 300 freshmen participated in a colorful candle lighting ceremony at the University of Eastern Africa, Baraton English Church. The Class of 2019 culminated their orientation in a solemn sundown worship service graced by Mr Elijah Oenga, Kabarak University Procurement Officer who is an alumnus of UEAB and also former Student Association president(SABU). Mr Oenga who is also an incoming assistant treasurer of the Baraton alumni association is credited for pioneering a Somesha fund kitty to assist students who have been in Baraton for more than seven years. After graduating with a BBA in Management from UEAB in 2008, he proceeded for a masters degree in the United Kingdom then came back to work for Kabarak University after a four-year working stint in the UK.

Mr Oenga who was accompanied by Kabarak’s General Manager for Auxiliary Enterprises Mr Mugambi Mwambi, spoke passionately to the students on the theme ‘Refined to be the light’ during the candle lighting ceremony. He challenged the Class of 2019 to start their journey in Baraton University with a positive attitude of lighting up the society that is in darkness. “It is time that young people should rise up with candles of light and light up the community” he challenged. He said that without light people stagger and fall in life. “In light you choose what is right – you live right, you behave right, you eat right, you dress right. But without light you go to bed with darkness”, he added.He implored the students to choose the Bible and allow God’s word to refine them to be the light of the world.

While giving a charge to the new students, the Vice Chancellor Prof Phillip Maiyo encouraged the Class of 2019 to endeavor to be the people that the world need. “Be true and honest as the needle is to the pole, stand firm for what is right because the world is in need of men who will not be bought or sold; men who in their inmost souls are true and honest; men who do not fear to call sin by its right name; men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole; men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall”.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Services, Dr Paul Wahonya then presented the 302 new students from the school of Business, school of Education, school of Health sciences, school of Science and Technology and the school of Humanities and Social Sciences to the Vice Chancellor, the guest speaker, faculty, staff and other students. After the Vice Chancellors team, faculty and staff took their positions the Vice Chancellor littheir candles who in turn lit the students candles as they marched past the faculty and staff. The Church communication team at that point played softly Kathy Troccoli’s song: www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVqR6kTu8lE

“carry your candle, run to the darkness, seek out the helpless, deceived and poor. Hold out your candle for all to see it. Take the candle and go light the world”

Before the head of department of Theology and Religious study Dr Odek Rabach offered the final benediction prayer, behold the most amazing vision in the church, its beautiful and stunning to see the flickering and glowing hundreds of candles. There is no doubt that hearts are blazing with God’s love and awe. The church communication team now switches off part of the light so that the candles can shine brightly in the dark - the scene is amazing. Most people pull out their smart phones and cameras to get a shot of the mesmerizing sight.

UEAB candle lighting ceremony is a solemn worship experience and a culmination of freshmen orientation meant to encourage students to start the journey of success in Baraton with an open eye to the joys of Christian living. It is a symbol of being a light bearer into the world of darkness.