Stellenbosch University (SU) will confer honorary doctorates in six remarkable individuals on recognition of their extraordinary efforts to change the world for the better in their respective fields, namely the performing arts, economics, higher education, women’s health, equal opportunities for people living with disabilities and rural development.
Their contribution to society through activism, education and research also embody the values underpinning SU’s Vision 2040 – compassion, respect, excellence, accountability and equity.
Nasima Badsha, grew up in South Africa and the United Kingdom, and has made outstanding contribution to South African higher education over a period spanning more than 30 years.
She did pioneering work in creating access, equity and social justice in the higher education system and played a role in conceptualising new higher education dispensation in South Africa.
Rachel Kachaje, from Malawi, is a well-known activist with over 25 years experience in advocating for equal opportunities and rights for persons with disabilities in Malawi, the rest of Africa and the globe, Ms Kachaje, who contracted polio at the age of three, held high office in several disability and human rights-related organisations and communities and is also a former minister of disability and elderly affairs in the Malawian government.
Dr Bonisile John Kani, born in Port Elizabeth, is being recognised for his 50-year career in the performing arts and playwriting, not only in South Africa, but globally as well.
Throughout his career, he has shown an unwavering commitment to ensuring that young people have access to the performing arts, and also using the arts as a tool to educate, develop communities and give a voice to the oppressed.
Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karis is a prominent National Research Foundation A-rated South African scientist, epidermiologist who specialises in infectious disease, and associate scientific director of the Centre for AIDS Research in South Africa (CAPRISA).
She is being honoured for her commitment to research and education in the field of women’s health in Africa and globally, particularly her succesful efforts in increasing the national and international focus on HIV, and her pivotal role in HIV prevention research.
Dr Uma Lele, born in Maharashtra, India, is being honoured for her leadership in the theory and practice of rural development globally. In a career that has spanned almost five decades, her body of work has been characterised by efforts to influence public policy through rigorous empirical research.
Dr Lele, president-elect of the International Association of Agricultural Economics (the first female to hold this office) is undoubtedly the leading rural development scholar of her generation.
Professor Leonard Wantchekon, from Benin, is so committed to improving economics training in West Africa that he founded his own university, the African School of Economics (ASE). Besides serving as ASE president, he is also professor of politics, international affairs and economics at Princeton in America.
Professor Wantchekon is being honoured for his immense contribution to equipping the next generation of scholars with the skills, networks and belief in themselves to rise above their circumstances and become leading academics who are able to change the world for the better.
The honorary degrees will be conferred at the December graduation ceremonies, and those in March and April 2020.