Kamlana, Scoon, Henning Emdon and Agulhas honoured

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Kamlana, Scoon, Henning Emdon and Agulhas honoured
Kamlana, Scoon, Henning Emdon and Agulhas honoured

The Old Rhodian Union selection committee has selected four worthy recipients of Rhodes University's Distinguished Alumni Award 2021: Dr Roger N. Scoon, Mr Unathi Kamlana, Ms Heloise Henning Emdon and Mr Bernard Peter Agulhas.

Chairman of the Old Rhodian Union, Professor Rod Walker said: "Rhodes University consistently produces well-rounded graduates who are eager to make a contribution to the betterment of society, in South Africa and beyond. This year's esteemed awardees are testament to that."


Dr Roger N Scoon

Dr Roger Scoon arrived at Rhodes University to pursue his PhD studies in Geology in 1981 and graduated in 1985. Dr Scoon is an internationally recognised authority on the Bushveld Complex of South Africa and its contained ore deposits of platinum, chromium and vanadium. He is also a fellow of three professional geological societies.

He has an impressive list of peer-reviewed publications in national and international scientific journals and has presented several papers at international scientific conferences. He has also had two books on popular geology published by Springer International.

Dr Scoon is well-known in mineral exploration, having been a director of Trojan Exploration, one of the first junior companies to enjoy significant success in the South African mining industry. The most considerable exploration programme he managed for Trojan was sold to Impala Platinum and became that company's Marula Platinum Mine.

Scoon has consistently maintained his association with Rhodes University over the past 40 years.


Mr Unathi Kamlana

Hailing from the dusty streets of Mdantsane Township in East London, Mr Unathi Kamlana first arrived at Rhodes University in 1998 to pursue a Bachelor of Commerce degree which he completed in 2001. Then, in 2005, he returned to his beloved alma mater to pursue his Master's degree in Taxation.

Mr Kamlana has been heralded as a World Economic Forum Young Leader Award winner. His academic experience from Rhodes University and the University of London has positively contributed to the advancement of his profession. He is the Chairman of the 2020/21 Financial Stability Board Peer Review of the United Kingdom. He was sent on an international delegation to Canada and Australia in 2016 that led to the adoption of the current Twin Peak model in South Africa. These are among the many achievements that demonstrate his superb leadership skills at an international level.

His peers describe him as a highly principled and dedicated leader. Mr Kamlana's accomplishments, affiliations and impressive career history make him a remarkable Rhodes University alumnus. As the newly appointed Financial Sector Conduct Authority Commissioner, Mr Unathi Kamlana has demonstrated his superb leadership skills in the public sector. He credits Rhodes University for teaching him the importance of insight and foresight for leaders.


Ms Heloise Henning Emdon

Manager of Internationally sponsored research projects at Carleton University in Canada, Ms Heloise Henning Emdon, obtained her BA degree in African Politics and Philosophy Rhodes University in 1981.

As students in the post-1976 South African context, her peers witnessed her becoming grounded in Rhodes University's student community movement that included reporting on and fearlessly being engaged in the student movement that supported affected communities and advocated against the forced removals in the Eastern Cape. She also participated in SRC-organised volunteering to tutor high school students from Fingo Village during those challenging years.

Ms Emdon, who has worked as a senior Journalism, Philosophy and Political Studies Africa student, followed a career that evolved from journalism during apartheid to development for reconstruction in the 1990s. She was then invited to join an international agency, and in the 2000s, her work grew in terms of its global reach. Over the years, she has consistently kept links with South African academia, sharing knowledge, expertise, resources and engagements with others locally and internationally.

Starting as a liaison officer engaged in coordinating environmental impacts, she learned very early on that despite scientific expertise, panels of scientists could not change power relations in South Africa. She moved into journalism and made her political and economic journalism career during the 80s as apartheid was being challenged on all fronts. She experienced the power of the media for amplifying the voices of the voiceless. She sought to work in development and via the Development Bank of Southern Africa found herself entangled in the reconstruction processes in the 90s. She was also engaged with an international research funder that enabled her to work in an Africa-wide programme and connect with other global programmes focusing on building expertise to address their development challenges. Eventually moving to Ottawa, the funder's headquarters, she became a programme manager and continued to work in research facilitation.

Rhodes University provided the foundation of formal knowledge and student life experience that seeded in Ms Emdon a commitment to social justice. She has remained engaged with South African universities and is primarily concerned with historically disadvantaged universities. Her peers describe her as a person who draws so many people together in the most profound ways and an icon of what is possible between people.


Mr Bernard Peter Agulhas

Growing up in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, Mr Bernard Agulhas' could not envisage an art career, one of his other passions, so he decided to pursue his love of accounting. Mr Bernard Agulhas arrived at Rhodes University in 1981, where he obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree.

From 1983 to 1995, Mr Bernard lectured and tutored part-time for various educational institutions, including Rhodes University, WITS University and the University of Transkei and continues to mentor aspirant professionals in and outside of the accountancy profession.

Mr Agulhas is a Chartered Accountant (SA) and Registered Public Sector Financial Officer with over thirty years' tenure in auditing and accounting. He served as CEO of the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA), the audit regulator. He served in this position for eleven years and made a substantive contribution to standard-setting and regulation.

Until 2020, he was a board member of the IFAC International Accounting Education Standards Board (IAESB) and chairman of the Professional Skepticism Behavioral Competency Task Force and was also a founding member of the International Forum of Independent Audit Regulators (IFIAR), which consists of over 50 jurisdictions world-wide, and was appointed to its first Board and as the first chairman of the IFIAR Audit Committee. He also chaired the IFIAR Standards Coordination Working Group (SCWG) for four years.

Since leaving the IRBA at the end of June 2020 at the end of his last CEO contract, Mr Bernard assisted the Commission of Enquiry concerning the role of accountants and auditors in alleged state capture to make recommendations President of South Africa.

He currently chairs the Examination Board of the South African Institute of Government Auditors, the body responsible for qualifying auditors and accountants to deliver services in the public sector and is a board member and chair of the audit committee of the Field Band Foundation.


"We thank our alumni for their contributions and recognise their achievements with this award. We know you will continue to make us proud.” Prof Walker concluded.