UKZN Honours Two Renowned South Africans
Director of the New Africa Civil Society Centre Dr Kumi Naidoo and African Music living-legend and political struggle icon Dr Hugh Masekela were recently awarded Honorary Doctorates in Social Science and Music respectively. Both graduates were honoured to receive their Doctorates.
African Music living-legend and political struggle icon Dr Hugh Masekela was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Music from UKZN in recognition of his talents as a world class performer and entertainer as well as for being an inspiration to several generations of South Africans.
Speaking during the UKZN Graduation ceremony, Masekela asked the audience to consider several issues through which the excellence of African Heritage could be re-introduced into their lives, without abandoning the good inherited from the Western world.
Masekela spoke about the restoration and resilience of African Heritage, linking ethnic languages with praise poetry saying it was the universal genealogy of all African people.
‘Volumes of African-language history and literature books lie covered with dust and ticks in basements and warehouses all over the continent and parts of Europe. African artisanship lies dormant but awe-inspiring as are our arts and crafts, design and architecture,’ said Masekela.
He asked the audience questions about whether there should be places of learning where knowledge embedded in these initiatives could be pursued, while questioning whether African Heritage really was primitive, heathen, backward and barbaric?
‘I humbly ask you on bended knees to carry these thoughts with you as you go out into the world and perhaps think about how humiliating it will be 20 years from today when your children are asked who they really are and their response is “They say we used to be Africans very long ago”.’
‘Or do you already speak only European languages in your homes?’ said Masekela.
Director of the New Africa Civil Society Centre Dr Kumi Naidoo received an Honorary Doctorate in Social Sciences from UKZN for his tireless campaigning in the area of human rights and environmental justice.
Using the Graduation platform to deliver an impassioned plea, Naidoo - referring to the current troubled political scenario in South Africa – said: ‘Don’t be corrupt, don’t steal, and act in the best interests of the people of this country.’
Honoured and elated to receive the Honorary Doctorate, Naidoo dedicated the honour to his fallen comrades and struggle stalwarts Lenny Naidoo and Phila Ndwandwe. ‘This is not a personal achievement but a salute, recognising those people who were part of my generation’s struggle…their sacrifices, contributions. This is for them,’ he said.
True to his environmental activism, Naidoo reflected on the impact of climate change: ‘The planet does not need saving, the planet will still be here even when the human species dies out. We should be investing in the future of the next generation by becoming climate activists. We need to act in urgency. We must also recognise that we are part of a bigger continent, dedicated to uniting people across that continent.’
Naidoo said he would launch a social movement - Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Sustainable Development – on 25 May, providing a united stance for all Africans.
His message to UKZN graduates was to use their education to uplift society.
‘Do not adjust to injustice, inequality and corruption. I hope you will contribute to a society that is sustainable and fair…that is free of sexism, racism and corruption.’