The first group of 1 728 graduates under the newly named Nelson Mandela University (NMU) adorned their gowns and accepted their degrees and diplomas at a two-day graduation ceremony this week.
The summer graduation saw the students being capped by outgoing vice-chancellor Professor Derrick Swartz at four separate ceremonies held at the NMU south campus Indoor Sports Centre over the last two days.
Among the 31 doctorates, former Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke received his sixth honorary doctorate on Thursday.
Moseneke, 69, who is a struggle icon and regarded as an esteemed judge in South Africa’s Constitutional Court, has made a significant contribution to South African property law.
Moseneke was also an executor of the will of Nelson Mandela.
In his acceptance speech, Moseneke said: “I’m at a loss for words and this is because of my undiluted gratitude to this great university, its leaders, its academy, students, the people and the community it has served so well for many years, particularly under a democratic order.”
“I truly cherish the recognition that this university signified by offering the honorary doctorate in law . . . I must immediately turn to thank my wife and almost life-long partner, Khabonina Moseneke.
“So, as you graduate, my fellow graduandi, you need no lessons on true drivers of change. You have shown yourselves to be part of those disruptives who are going to make a real difference in our lives.”
And while Moseneke gracefully received the honour, hundreds of elated students together with their families struggled to contain their excitement as they shouted and clapped.
BTech construction management graduate Asive Shweni, 25, said: “I can’t explain the feeling of fulfilment and satisfaction I had as I walked across the stage. I went from an undergrad to a professional with the papers to prove it.”
BTech electrical engineering graduate Tafadzwa Bhowa, 24, could not contain his smile as he walked off the stage.
“All of those years of sleepless nights, stressful exams and sacrifice have finally paid off. Now I have the skills to make a difference in the renewable energy field, which is the way of the future.
Speaking at yesterday morning’s graduation ceremony, Swartz said: “We are exceedingly proud of your achievement, as it is also in many ways our achievement as NMU, family and the community at large on whose shoulders you stood to get this far.”
Outgoing NMU chancellor Santie Botha congratulated the graduates for their immense achievement.
“You have set yourself a very difficult goal and you have achieved it,” she said.