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Three days of unrestrained optimism at Rhodes’ 2018 Graduation ceremonies

Date Released: Wed, 2 May 2018 09:17 +0200

By Journalism and Media Studies Students

The 2494 graduates, their attending family members, and participating Rhodes University staff glowed with pride during the three days of celebration, inspirational speeches, music, dance, and jubilation that made up last month’s Graduation ceremonies.

At the start of each of the six ceremonies, Rhodes Chancellor Judge Lex Mpati called for a moment of silence in honour of stalwart, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who passed away early April.

Thereafter followed a heartwarming and motivational speech by Rhodes University’s Vice-Chancellor Dr Sizwe Mabizela.

“Graduation is a culmination of many years of hard work and personal sacrifice; a moment of joy and pride for parents and other family members; a time of celebration; a time to reflect on the road travelled and to look forward to a future filled with great promise,” he said.

During the first ceremony on Thursday, after Professor Mtuze was bestowed with a Doctor of Letters (DLitt), he emphasised unification and harmony.

“If I can suggest anything to you as young, energetic and gifted graduates of this highly-regarded institution it is unity, unity and unity,” he emphasised. “We need one another in order to secure the future of this beautiful country.”

At Thursday’s second and final ceremony, guest speaker Advocate Ngcukaitobi praised the graduates for overcoming challenges, and for their resilience and resistance. “It is a privilege to be a graduate of Rhodes University. I know, as I have had first-hand experience of this myself. Each graduate should take pride in not having allowed external obstacles to constrain them. Now that you are beneficiaries of education, however, it is what you do with your education that counts.”

The Science faculty graduation ceremony on Friday morning included an inspiring speech by CEO of 100% black female-owned ICT-Works, Ms Xoliswa Kakana, who focused on how the dreams and imaginations of young graduates could launch us all into a magnificent future.

“I would like to acknowledge that some of you came from rural areas and township-schools, and yet you found a way to dream and to believe. You committed yourselves – and this is what imagination will do for you - remove any boundaries from your dreams.”

A great believer in the power of technology, Ms Kakana expressed her hopes that Rhodes’ 2018 graduates will take on the challenge of making their generation the most successful generation in human history. “To you all, I have to bow my head, and say to you that you are a sign of what is possible in our country. You are the epitome of what we need to do. If our leaders and politicians could be as dedicated as you are; if we business people could be as dedicated as you are; I have no doubt that Africa would be occupying its rightful place in the world. You are an example to us and to yourselves.”

The attendance of 90 year-old Professor Brian Allanson was mentioned by Dr Mabizela, who briefly stood up in acknowledgement of the attendees’ praise.

Professor Vishnu Padayachee received his Honorary Doctorate in Economics (DEcon) on Friday afternoon, for his immense and extensive contribution to the post-apartheid transformation of South Africa’s economic policy – particularly in serving the economic and social needs of marginalised black South Africans.

In his speech, Professor Padayachee mentioned the need and importance of teaching economics students the value of contributing to the creation and development of a good society – and a more human economy.

This fourth out of six ceremonies also saw Professor Ferdinand Botha receive the Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Medal at the age of 31, making him the youngest ever recipient of this award.

On Friday’s final ceremony, Rhodes University honoured Dr Andrew Mokete Mlangeni with a Doctorate of Laws (LLD). “In line with the motto of the University: “Strength, courage, truth”, I am pretty confident that Rhodes University, which I join today as an honorary member, will continue to play its role to help transform our country into one of the best nations in the world.”

During his speech, Dr Mlangeni urged the entire Auditorium crowd to always treat people with respect and dignity. “Both Madiba and Albertina Sisulu would’ve turned 100-years-old this year. Their selflessness should be embodied by the whole world not only on their months of birth, but every day.”

The afternoon of Saturday the 7th of April marked the end of Rhodes’ graduation ceremonies. The final ceremony once again, saw crowds of graduates effervescing around the Monument entrance and lobby.

This time, it was Dr Sindiwe Magona, who was bestowed with a Doctor of Letters (DLitt) from the University.

“Don’t look so surprised! I am no less surprised than you are to be standing before you for this honour,” she told attendees.

Always beautifully and resolutely humble, Dr Magona honoured the final ceremony attendees in return by reading aloud her brilliant poem Fear of Change, a piece about post-apartheid South Africa.