This year Rhodes University’s six honorary doctorate recipients included Dr Sindiwe Magona, Professor Peter Mtuze, Dr Andrew Mlangeni, Professor Vishnu Padayachee, Ms Yvonne Chaka-Chaka and Judge Dikgang Moseneke. Chaka-Chaka and Moseneke’s degrees were conferred in absentia at the university’s graduation ceremony, held from 5 to 7 April. A special event was consequently held at Melrose Arch to honour the two recipients, who each received an honorary Doctor of Law degree.

“For a university to confer an Honorary Doctorate in absentia is an unusual occurrence. It is appropriate that we acknowledge and celebrate these individuals in a manner that is befitting of recipients of the highest accolade conferred by the university, hence this extraordinary ceremony,” said Dr Sizwe Mabizela, Vice Chancellor of Rhodes University.

Chaka-Chaka, who was commended for her humanitarian work and highly successful musical career, holds a diploma in speech and drama from Trinity College of London, a certificate and higher diploma in adult education, which has since been converted to a degree, a certificate in local government and administration, as well as a business management certificate, all from the University of South Africa.

“One has to aspire to be educated and acquire as much knowledge as possible. I’m still going to go to school and surprise many people. I meant to study law, but I failed Afrikaans three times.”

Chaka-Chaka, who also holds an honorary doctorate from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, used her address opportunity to implore the university to lift the ban on the young women who were expelled at the height of the Fees must Fall protests.

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Former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke was honored for his exceptional contribution to the development of the jurisprudence of South Africa. In particular, he was acknowledged for the ground-breaking and progressive judgments he penned relating to affirmative action, property law in respect of land rights and expropriation, and the constitutionality of Parliamentary Rules.

“It is a privilege for us as the Rhodes University community to honour such outstanding citizens for their many and significant contributions. We warmly congratulate them for their notable achievements. Not only have they made it their life’s work to enrich the lives of others, they are also excellent role models to us all,” said Dr Sizwe Mabizela, Vice Chancellor for Rhodes University.