Four female powerhouses receive honorary titles

Nelson Mandela University's Canrad has bestowed honorary titles on, from left, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Karen Zoid, Mumbi Mwangi and Josephine Ahikire
MAKING A CHANGE: Nelson Mandela University's Canrad has bestowed honorary titles on, from left, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Karen Zoid, Mumbi Mwangi and Josephine Ahikire

Nelson Mandela University’s Centre for the Advancement of Non-Racialism and Democracy has bestowed four honorary and adjunct professorships as part of its expansion.

The expansion, according to Canrad associate professor and senior researcher Christi van der Westhuizen, is for the purpose of research and engagement activities.

The honorary professors are Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Josephine Ahikire, Mumbi Mwangi and the adjunct professor is Karen Zoid.  

Van der Westhuizen said the conferral of honorary and adjunct professorships acknowledged the recipients’ contributions to scholarship and other professional fields.

“The centre is specifically concerned with the way we understand differences such as race, gender, class and sexuality.

“We come from a history where differences were used to abuse and discriminate; we study the abuse of differences and how we can have an inclusive democracy.”

Van der Westhuizen said the centre wanted to empower people irrespective of differences.

“The honorary professors are in their respective fields of education in the tertiary sector while the adjunct professor is from the corporate field, be it through the arts.”

All made an important contribution in society, she said.

“Among other things Gobodo-Madikizela was honoured among ‘100 people who made a difference’ in 2010.

“She received the Social Change award from Rhodes University for contributions by leading psychologists to social change in SA.

“Ahikire, among other things, was a principal for the college of humanities and social sciences, and a former dean at the school of women and gender studies.

“Mwangi, among other things, is the professor of gender and women’s studies at St Cloud State University in the US, and founder of Ngatha International, a US non-profit organisation.

“Zoid is a multi-award winning SA musician, singer, television producer and talk-show host who, among other things, has collaborated with Vusi Mahlasela and Thandiswa Mazwai, and has won a number of television awards.” 

She said two of the women were based  in other parts of the world — Mwangi in the US and Ahikire in Uganda.

Ahikire said was honoured to receive the accolade and was looking forward to working with Canrad.

She said what drove her towards the study of humanities, women and gender studies was a quest for a deeper understanding of how society functioned, and what animated transformation and social justice or the lack of it.

“My interest in feminist studies is informed by the inclination that the complexity of the social world as well as its politics is intricately layered by gender relations making gender transformation quite central to any efforts towards social justice,” she said.

Zoid, a renowned singer and television personality who has sung with musical icons such as the late Johnny Clegg, said she too felt honoured.

She said music had the ability to bring different groups of people together without boundaries.

“There are people in France, Sandton and Port Elizabeth that love Johnny Clegg — art doesn’t segregate.

“Music will move beyond the point of art being ironic.”

The titles were awarded online.