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First PhD in isiXhosa lauded

Hleze Kunju has been hailed for breaking barriers in academia after becoming the first person at Rhodes University in the Eastern Cape to write a PhD in his mother tongue.

Kunju, 31, who is an isiXhosa lecturer at the Sol Plaatje University in the Northern Cape, wrote his four-year-long PhD about the Xhosa people who settled in Mbembesi, about 45km outside Bulawayo in Zimbabwe.

Kunju said: "I did this as part of transformation and decolonisation of education. Our parents often encourage us to learn in English but we need to change that so we use our own language. I wrote the PhD in Xhosa because I wanted my work to be accessible to the people about whom I wrote."

In his work, Kunju looked at the cultural and linguistic aspects of Xhosa people.

"This achievement is not for me but the Xhosa people and I want to be remembered not as the first person to do this but rather the one who encouraged others to produce academia in their own languages."

Writing in his mother tongue was not easy as there was little literature in Xhosa and he had to translate the material.

Source:  The Times

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