It is with a deep sense of loss and sadness that we inform the Rhodes University Community of the passing of the Reverend Dr Simon Gqubule. Dr Gqubule took ill and was admitted to a hospital in Port Elizabeth on Monday, 23 May 2016. Following an emergency operation, he was kept in the intensive care unit until his passing yesterday, 26 May 2016.
Rev. Dr Gqubule was the first black student to receive a doctorate degree from Rhodes University in 1978. He was honoured with an honorary doctorate from Rhodes University in 1995. He remained loyal and dedicated to his alma mater to the last days of his life, his last visit being on 12 May 2016, where he came to offer support to the University.
He is our current and long-serving President of Convocation, a responsibility he discharged with admirable dedication and commitment. He lived an impressively active life to the end, attending all six Rhodes graduation ceremonies in April and the Fort Hare Centenary celebrations last Friday.
He tirelessly committed his life to helping others and advancing education. His commitment to educating previously disadvantaged scholars won him numerous awards. In 2015, he was awarded the Distinguished Old Rhodian Award for his dedication and contribution to teaching and learning.
The Rev. Dr Gqubule was a well-respected and influential figure in his community, church and academic circles and played a significant role in advancing education as he committed his life to being the ‘chaplain’ for many other students, thus improving many lives. For his passion and dedication to ensuring that Nelson Mandela Bay’s youngsters prosper, he received the Herald GM Citizen of the Year Award in 2014. The qualified teacher never stopped working to improve the education of disadvantaged learners, he continued his private initiative, Ilitha Lemfundo, that offers Saturday classes to grade 10, 11 and 12 pupils in Uitenhage until the end.
Last month, he was honoured with the National Order of Luthuli: Silver, for his excellent contribution in the liberation struggle and in the fields of education and religion. At this ceremony he was accompanied by his children, a moment that touched him deeply as he recalled on his last visit, the proud father shared this story with many. He brought newspaper clippings along and recollected an evening during apartheid when all three of his children had been arrested and spent the evening in prison as a method to intimidate and harass the Rev. who was actively fighting for the liberation of all. Rev. Dr Gqubule was the president of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in the Natal Midlands. During his presidency of this movement, the apartheid government placed him under house arrest for two years, between 1988 and 1990.
The University flag is at half-mast as we mourn the passing of an extraordinary man who was committed to serving the community. Our University has lost a truly committed and selfless leader of education and his legacy will continue.
The University will hold a memorial service where we will celebrate Rev. Dr Gqubule’s rich and inspiring life, and his immense contribution to our society and community. We extend our condolences to the Rev’s family, who generously shared him with us.
Details of the memorial service and funeral will be communicated.
Last Modified: Mon, 08 Aug 2016 15:04:39 SAST