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Cherry on top for Janet

Date Released: Tue, 27 August 2013 10:15 +0200

Political activist, academic honoured with Rhodian Award.

Political activist and Port Elizabeth lecturer Dr Janet Cherry has been awarded the Distinguished Old Rhodian Award from Rhodes University.

The award is given to those alumni who, through their individual actions and achievements, have acted as role models and enhanced the reputation of the Grahamstown University. "I was very touched and proud to be given the award by my peers. [It means that] they really understand what I've been involved in. It was very good to be acknowledged for the work that I'm doing," Cherry said yesterday.

A senior lecturer in Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University's Department of Development Studies, Cherry is interested in human rights, social justice and social development. She was detained four times during the apartheid era, adding up to more than a year in jail.

Not limiting herself to academia, Cherry is working with Seaview residents in informal settlements to develop sustainable settlements in the area. She is also working with members of the Amabutho organisation to help document their stories.

"The point is both to understand the world and to bring about change, and we do this through the combination of intellectual inquiry and social proactivism, because changing the world is an ongoing challenge," she said. NMMU spokeswoman Roslyn Baatjies said Cherry deserved the award because her "leadership in the field of human rights speaks for itself".

"Her fearless pursuance of justice and her passion to impart knowledge are an inspiration to many," she said. The two categories for the awards are Distinguished, for those over 40, and Emerging, and for those under 40. Recipients received a replica statuette of the famous "Figure of Energy", based on George Frederick Watts's "Physical Energy" statue, which still stands today in London.

Other recipients of awards were: Sandile Malinga, chief executive officer of the South African National Space Agency and the first black South African to obtain a PhD in space science, in 2001. Nomkhita Nqweni (Emerging Old Rhodian Award), the chief executive officer of Absa Wealth and Investment.

Jennifer Thorpe, who is completing her second Masters degree in creative writing at the University of Cape Town and is working as a parliamentary researcher on the Women's Portfolio Committee.

Photo Caption: PROUD RECIPIENT: Dr Janet Cherry with her Rhodes University award Picture by: JUDY DE VEGA

By: Leonie Wagner

Article Source: The Herald