Five distinguished Old Rhodians honouredDate Released: Tue, 6 September 2011 11:00 +0200
Members of the Rhodes community who have enhanced the reputation of the University and served as role models in society were recently honoured at the annual Old Rhodian award ceremony, where three old Rhodians were awarded the Distinguished Old Rhodian Award.
The 2011 three award recipients are Mr Connie Molusi, Mrs Judith Bishop and Mrs Margie Keeton.
This year’s event also saw the launch of the Emerging Old Rhodian Award, given to ex-Rhodians under the age of 40, who are already starting to make an impact in society. This year’s Emerging Old Rhodian Award winners were Dr Garth Cambray and Mr Tembeka Ngcukaitobi.
On receiving his award, Mr Molusi, who enrolled at Rhodes in 1985 to study a BA in Journalism and Politics and has since become a leading figure in South African media, holding the position of CEO of Johnnic Communications now Avusa, before joining Telkom Media as Chairperson of its Board, said it was “with the deepest humility that I stand here in front of you and accept this award”.
Reminiscing about his involvement with politics in the early nineties as well as a stint in detention, he paid tribute to the support he received from Rhodes, saying: “It has enabled me to build my confidence and engage intellectually.”
Professor Rod Walker, president of the Old Rhodian Union said that despite being “enormously successful in his professional career and the corporate world, Connie has remained a man of great honesty, integrity, and principle – a fierce protector of the independence of the media and someone with a highly developed social conscience.
“He also displays a deep-seated loyalty to institutions, people and places that have played a role in shaping his sense of self.”
Among Mrs Judith Bishop’s dearest memories of Rhodes were the times spent singing protest songs in the Great Hall. After graduating from Rhodes in 1972 with a BSc (Hons), she completed her Masters degree cum laude at the University of Natal, and completed her PhD in 1977 at the University of Southampton.
She is an internationally renowned Computer Science academic, who was appointed Director of Computer Science at Microsoft Research in 2009, with the mandate of building and maintaining research links between Microsoft and universities worldwide.
Accepting her award in absentia, Mrs Bishop’s niece Tammy read out a letter of acceptance from Mrs Bishop, in which she noted: “I would not have gotten where I am today if had not gone to Rhodes.”
Mrs Margie Keeton, a prominent leader in the field of corporate social investment and founding CEO of Tshikululu Social Investments, the largest CSI body in South Africa, said the award meant “a huge amount” to her, adding that she has yet to meet an old Rhodian who is not proud of their Rhodes identity.
This year’s Emerging Old Rhodian Award winners Dr Cambray and Mr Ngcukaitobi spoke earnestly about their involvement with Rhodes, with Dr Cambray suggesting that while there may be a tendency to “think the grass is greener on the other side, the reality is that the grass is actually very green right here, you just have to look in the right places.”
After completing his PhD in Biotechnology, developing the world’s most advanced technology to produce mead using locally produced honey, Dr Cambray established the Makana Meadery and has since received multiple local, national and international awards.
Mr Ngcukaitobi, an attorney and Advocate of the High Court, was described by Prof Walker as an “inspirational young man”. Having grown up in rural Transkei, Mr Ngcukaitobi obtained a BProc LLB from the University of Transkei, then a Masters in Constitutional and Administrative Law from Rhodes, followed by a Masters in Public and Regulatory Law from the London School of Economics.
Urging the congregation to take our responsibility as citizens more seriously, Mr Ngcukaitobi highlighted the power that communities can wield when we unite for common interests.
Story by Sarah-Jane Bradfield
Picture: Dr Saleem Badat, Vice-Chancellor and Mr Connie Molusi.
Picture: Sophie Smith.