Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Research Chair in Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation at Stellenbosch University (SU), received an honorary doctorate from Rhodes University in Grahamstown on Friday (12 April 2019). This was her third honorary degree after having been honoured in similar fashion by Holy Cross College in Massachusetts, USA and Friedlich Shiller University Jena in Germany.
Gobodo-Madikizela, an alumna of Rhodes University, received the degree Doctor of Laws (LLD), honoris causa, for her trailblazing work to research topics such as guilt, remorse, forgiveness, the dialogue between perpetrators and victims as well as the way in which trauma is experienced by individuals and in political systems.
Rhodes University praised her for her contribution to trauma research and her efforts to relay the stories of victims, to humanise offenders and to bring a message of hope, empathy, dialogue, forgiveness and reconciliation to a society characterised by violence and trauma.
In her acceptance speech, Gobodo-Madikizela expressed her gratitude for the honour bestowed upon her. She said she was fully aware of the honour and challenge locked up in this award that came from a university that encouraged his alumni to lead and to be torchbearers. She encouraged the graduands to take up their places as leaders in society and to campaign for justice and equity.
This is the third time that Gobodo-Madikizela was honoured by Rhodes University. She received the institution's Social Change and Distinguished Old Rhodian Award in 2010 and 2017 respectively.
She was a member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Human Rights Violations Committee. She has received several international and national awards and the National Research Foundation has acknowledged her as a researcher of high international standing.
Since 2017, Gobodo-Madikizela has been serving as research advisor and global academic at the Queen's University in Belfast. This position is affiliated to the Senator George Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice where she holds a World Leading Researcher Professorship.
Gobodo-Madikizela also held research fellowships at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard Kennedy School's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and the Claude Ake Visiting Chair, a collaboration between the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at the Uppsala University in Sweden and the Nordic Africa Institute.
Profs George Ellis, Ian Scott, Glenda Gray and Ms Okunike Monica Okundaye-Davis also received honorary doctorates at the same graduation ceremony in Grahamstown. SU awarded an honorary degree to Gray in 2017.
Photo: Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela receiving her honorary doctorate from Dr Adele Moodly, Registrar of Rhodes University.
- The University of Cape Town will award an honorary doctoral degree to Prof Jonathan Jansen, Distinguished Professor at SU's Faculty of Education, in December 2019.