On Saturday 03 September 2022, Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor Professor Sizwe Mabizela officially handed over a hood and gown to Dr Latozi Madosini Mpahleni, in full view of Dr Mpahleni’s family and the community at Mkhankatho village in Libode, outside Mthatha. The robing formed part of a Van Toeka Af Living Legends Recognition event organised by the national Department of Sport, Arts and Culture. The event recognises and acclaims the living legends in the creative and cultural sector. It is also intended to be a knowledge-sharing platform which offers guidance whilst motivating future generations.
Professor Mabizela and Music and Musicology Head of Department, Dr Boudina McConnachie, officially robed and hooded Dr Madosini. The Vice-Chancellor said: “In 2020, we honoured Gogo Madosini with the University’s highest honour, the degree of Doctor of Music (honoris causa). Due to COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions at the time, we could not celebrate this honour in the conventional way we always do. She is a worthy recipient, a formidable woman, a woman of substance, a woman of great dignity and humility and a doyenne of our cultural heritage. Today, we are delighted to have the opportunity to formally robe and hood Gogo Madisini and celebrate her with her family and community. It is no exaggeration that she has singlehandedly kept alive the South African heritage of Xhosa music through her performances and instruments.”
Department of Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa applauded Rhodes University for having honoured Dr Madosini and said: “I have been wondering that with so many universities in our country, why they do not see the need to honour Gogo Madosini while she is still alive. I am happy that Rhodes University saw it fitting to celebrate and honour her.”
Dr Madosini said: “Kangangoba ndinemincili yilento ndiyenzelweyo yi Rhodes University, ungasuke undibone sendikhala. Ndiziva ndingcangcazela, ndiphelelwa nangamandla ngenxa yovuyo olusentliziyweni yam. Bendingubani na mna, iqaba elingazange lawubona umnyango wesikolo? Noba ndingalala kobandayo, intliziyo yam ixolile ngento endiyenzelwe yi Rhodes University.” (The way I am so happy, I could start crying. I am shaking right now because of the joy in my heart. Who am I? An uneducated old woman who has never gone to school. Even if I could die, my heart is at peace after being honoured by Rhodes University in this way.)
Dr Madosini is recognised worldwide for her sustained and exceptional contribution to the Xhosa culture through the preservation and popularising of isiXhosa music bows: uhadi, umrhubhe and isitolotolo. “For her many years of distinguished and selfless service to our nation and its culture, it was proper and fitting that Rhodes University should honour Gogo Madosini by bestowing on her its highest honour. Our nation owes her an unpayable debt of gratitude for all that she has done to preserve, share and propagate our rich Xhosa cultural heritage of music. On behalf of our Chancellor, Justice Lex Mpati, our Council, Board of Governors and the entire Rhodes University community, I offer our heartiest congratulations to Gogo Madosi on this well-deserved recognition,” added Professor Mabizela.
Dr Madosini played her instruments accompanied by Rhodes University’s Ethnomusicology PhD student, Thandeka Mfinyongo. The Eastern Cape Member of the Executive Council for Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture, Nonceba Khontsiwe, was also in attendance together with traditional leaders.
“Gogo Madosini is a great inspiration for our nation. Siyi Yunivesithi sivuyela lento yokuthi sikwazi ukumwonga esaphila. Sine lunda kwaye siyazingca ngo Dr Mpahleni. Wanga uThixo wothando angamgcina, ukuze isizwe sincance kwelo bele lakhe libhonxileyo. Makudede ubumnyama kuvele ukukhanya, kube chosi, kube hele. (As Rhodes University, we are happy that we have honored her while she is still alive. We are greatly proud of Dr Madosini. May God keep sustaining her so that the nation can keep benefiting from her unparalleled knowledge. May darkness be dispelled and light shine),” concluded Professor Mabizela.