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Wits to honour novelist Zakes Mda and African American scholar Prof. Molefi Kete Asante

- Wits University

The July graduations are a triple celebration – honorary doctorates for giants in African literature and African studies, 152 PhDs and the Great Hall reopens.

Dr Zakes Mda, African literary giant awarded an honorary Doctorate in Literature from Wits University

Wits University will bestow honorary doctorates on two giants in African literature and African studies respectively during the second cluster of graduation ceremonies this year, to be held from 18 to 22 July 2022.

The July graduation season commences with the capping of 152 PhD graduates who have completed extensive research and advanced scholarship by contributing novel ideas in their respective fields. The PhD graduation breakdown per Faculty is as follows:

38 from the Faculty of Science; 34 from the Faculty of Health Sciences; 33 from the Faculty of Humanities; 29 from the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management; and 18 from the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment.

Billed as the season of senior degrees, more than half of the 2041 qualifications to be conferred are for postgraduate studies.

“Wits University looks forward to celebrating the occasion of graduation with our students and their families. We look forward to their contributions to society and we urge them to uphold the efforts of Witsies before them, such as the great Madiba, who is being celebrated globally this month,” says Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal.

The University is also proud to confer honorary doctorates on scholars Mda and Asante who are ambassadors of African excellence through their work.

Biographies of honorary graduands

Professor Molefi Kete Asante

Professor Molefi Kete Asante, born Arthur Lee Smith, will be conferred with an honorary Doctorate in Literature at 09:30 on Tuesday, 19 July. Asante will be honoured for his life-long commitment to Africa(n)-centred scholarship and philosophy, as well as his influence and intellectual thought from and on Africa and the African Diaspora. He is currently Professor and Chair in the Department of Africology and African American Studies at Temple University, Philadelphia, USA, where he founded the PhD programme in African-American Studies. He is a co-founder of the Journal of Black Studies and is recognised as the father of the theory of Afrocentricity. He is the author of more than 77 books and the textbook African American History: Journey of Liberation, used in more than 400 schools in North America. The African Union cited him as one of the 12 top scholars of African descent. He is also a poet, dramatist, and painter.

Dr Zanemvula Kizito Gatyeni (Zakes) Mda

Novelist, playwright, painter, musical composer and academic Zakes Mda will be awarded an honorary Doctorate in Literature at 14:30 also on Tuesday, 19 July in recognition of his contribution to South Africa and the world’s cultural and literary sphere. Mda has an established reputation as one South Africa’s preeminent novelists and was one of the first writers to face and address the complexities of the post-1990 transition. Since 1995, Mda has published a succession of novels that have received favourable reviews and have won an array of prizes. A creative genius, his works toys with the intersection of social awareness and aesthetic exploration, and has expanded our sense of what it means to be South African.

Much to the delight of Wits students, staff and friends of the University, the graduation ceremonies return to the Great Hall, an architectural wonder which underwent months of repair work to preserve the magnificent symbol of Wits University.