New York A string of VIPs in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and around Africa could have paid thousands of dollars to three Americans liberally giving out doctorate degrees to the unsung heroes of Africa. The letters inviting the selected men and women for the academic honour also asked them to make contributions towards the travel and accommodation expenses of the visiting Americans In one instance, the Daily Nation learnt that they asked a potential beneficiary to contribute about Sh240,000 ($3,000) to arrange for the award ceremony. The college's Chancellor of Educational Development Worldwide, Prof Clyde Rivers, at first told the Daily Nation in an interview that his team paid its own way but later admitted that the group had been asking for money. "We pay our own way... We feel so passionate about Africa that we do it ourselves," said had Prof Rivers. The Daily Nation then confronted him with details that the letters they had been sending out to potential beneficiaries would often close with a request for money and he accepted that it was indeed true. "We do ask people to cover our hotel. We spend $2,500 to $6,000 to fly here. We ask for that to help cost share. If someone says no, we don't disregard him. I'm just here to truly honour Africa," said Prof Rivers, flanked by two of his colleagues, a mother and her daughter. And in an ironic twist of events, the president of the United Graduate College and Seminary, Dr Dorothy Wisor, said that she did not know how many students were enrolled in the university and had admitted that they do not have a physical campus anywhere in the US. The college president said she did not have much details about the college because she only took up her job three weeks ago and had only a short while ago married the founder, Dr Martin Wisor. The representatives of the internet-based institution have been on a spree around Africa, giving honorary doctorate degrees to the high and mighty. The list of those who have been honoured include House Speaker Kenneth Marende and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka. Honorary degrees are usually given by universities to men and women for extraordinary achievements and are usually conferred at university campuses during graduation ceremonies.Neither Mr Marende nor Mr Musyoka had commented on the conferment of the degrees or whether they had given any money to the Americans despite repeated attempts by the Daily Nation to contact them through their aides. Further afield, the Americans claim to have conferred the honorary degrees to Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni and his wife Janet, Burundi president Pierre Nkurunziza, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, Kabila and former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano.