Honorary doctorate for councillor and author

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To many people Soga Mlandu is just one of the councillors entrusted with bringing service delivery to the people of King Sabata Dalindyebo (KSD) municipality.

But the 64-year-old has also been making waves in the literary world with eight books published to date. The Mount Frere-born Mlandu saw his star continue to rise at the weekend when the University of the Free Stated conferred an honorary doctorate in philosophy on him for his contribution to creative writing. "I was shocked when I heard that they wanted to honour me," he said last week.

"It has always been in my plans to study and acquire a doctorate. But I guess they beat me to it." The councillor-cum-author, who has served in KSD's mayoral committee as chairman of the public safety portfolio since 2000, does not even have a university degree. He said he had enrolled at the University of Transkei and after finishing matric never got a chance to finish his studies, due partly to student strikes and also because of his involvement in the ANC.

Yet, the father of seven has already published six books in Xhosa and two in English. His last book was a collection of short stories titled The Tell Me Again Stories published early last year. But he says there are another four books in the pipeline before year's end. To cap it all, Mlandu was also invited by Rhodes University's Institute for the Study of English in Africa to be a Mellon writer-in-residence for three months.

He was also asked to produce a paper on the development of a pure Xhosa language versus what he terms "colloquial" Xhosa spoken by many people especially in townships. The paper proved very popular. "I write about real-life issues. My books are essentially a meeting place between students, parents, teachers and communities," he said.

He said he started writing in Xhosa as far back as 1977 but also started writing in English 10 years later. To juggle his writing with duties as a councillor, Mlandu said he spent three hours every night reading and writing new ideas.

Article Source: DAILY DISPATCH (Final Edition)


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