Rhodes University to honour freedom fighter and short storyteller, Prof Makhosazana Xaba

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Honorary doctorate recipient, Professor Makhosazana Xaba.
Honorary doctorate recipient, Professor Makhosazana Xaba.

At its graduation ceremony on 06 April 2022, Rhodes University will confer a degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) (honoris causa) on poet, award-winning anthologist and short storyteller, Professor Makhosazana Xaba.

Prof Xaba was born in Greytown, KwaZulu-Natal. She is an Associate Professor of Practise in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Johannesburg. She is trained as both a midwife and a psychiatric nurse. She has worked with national and international NGOs and media organisations in the areas of women’s rights, gender and anti-bias training and violence against LGBTQI++ communities. During the second state of emergency in 1986, she went into exile, returning to South Africa in 1990 with the African National Congress Women’s League.

Prof Xaba is currently commissioned by Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research to translate Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth into isiZulu and was formerly based at Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research as a Research Associate. Her long-term project is writing the biography of Helen Nontando Jabavu. She began writing poetry in 2000. She has MA (distinction) in Creative Writing from Wits University, Certificate course: Epidemiology for Clinicians from Wits University, Baccalaureus Curations (cum laude) from University of Zululand, Diploma in Journalism (distinction) from Werner-Lambertz International College of Journalism, Diploma in Psychiatric Nursing from Midlands Psychiatric Nursing College and Diploma in Nursing Science & Art & Midwifery (distinction) from Edenvale College of Nursing.

Prof Xaba has authored four collections of poetry (the most recent 2021 title is The Art of Waiting for Tales: Found Poetry from Grace - a novel) and one collection of short stories in addition to her extensive editing work across genres. Her short story collection has been analysed in literary and academic journals and theses and is taught at more than five South African universities, and universities abroad such as Rutgers, Hawaii University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, to name a few.

She has served as a judge for numerous poetry competitions - most recently the 2021 Brunel International African Poetry Prize. Her poetry has been translated into six languages. She has featured in numerous anthologies and has been a writing fellow at institutions for health and social and economic research.

Prof Xaba has also had previous experience working in the philanthropy sector supporting the South African health sector. Prior to this, she worked as a women’s health specialist and queer rights advocate through national and international NGOs. She is an Umkhonto we Sizwe veteran.

“Our nation owes her an enormous debt of gratitude and appreciation for all the sacrifices she has made throughout her life by serving the poor and downtrodden and by restoring their faith in the goodness of humanity. Above all, we thank her for serving our nation with irrepressible courage, unquestionable conviction and unyielding devotion. We celebrate her long and sustained contribution as a dedicated and committed activist for a free, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa. Her love and passion for South Africa and its people forced her to sacrifice her youth and join the liberation struggle and its military wing and Radio Freedom,” said Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sizwe Mabizela