Four honorary degrees for grad

05 December 2005

UCT will confer four honorary degrees at the December graduation ceremony.

Wife of struggle stalwart Walter Sisulu, Albertina Sisulu; art patron Hans Porer; HIV/AIDS campaigner Dr Fareed Abdullah and oceanographer Professor Arnold Gordon are to have honorary degrees conferred on them at the December graduation ceremonies.

Albertina Nontsikelelo Thethiwe-Sisulu, whose husband Walter said she "kept the family together under the most difficult circumstances", will have the degree of Doctor of Social Science honoris causa conferred on her on Tuesday, December 13. She will not be attending the ceremony, but her degree will be collected by her daughter, Beryl Simelane.

Sisulu, who was born in Cofimvaba in the Transkei in 1918, qualified as a nurse and midwife. She married Walter Sisulu, then the general secretary of the ANC, in 1944, playing a central role in organising women within the movement during their marriage.

After his life imprisonment in 1964 with Nelson Mandela, she was banned and put under house arrest, while raising five children of her own and three adopted children.

When the ANC was unbanned in 1989, she helped to re-establish the ANC Women's Leage in South Africa and served on its executive committee as deputy president. In 1994 she was elected to parliament as an ANC representative.

She is being awarded the degree for having "devoted her life to peace, justice and the cause of democracy in South Africa".

Art patron JC (Hans) Porer is to be given a Master of Fine Art honoris causa for his support for and patronage of the arts in South Africa, as well as his contribution to the life of the UCT campus for the works of art he has made available, in particular several Irma Stern paintings. Porer's view is that "art is only served by being displayed".

Dr Fareed Abdullah, head of the HIV/AIDS initiative in the Western Cape's health department, will be awarded a DSc (Med) honoris causa for his pioneering work in the fight against HIV/AIDs and for his tireless leadership in the efforts to eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmissions in the Western Cape.

Observational oceanographer Professor Arnold Gordon of Columbia University in the US is to be awarded a Doctor of Science honoris causa for his seminal contributions to our understanding of the Southern Ocean. Gordon is universally recognised as the principal expert on the Southern Ocean, having published, with his colleagues, an atlas that remains the standard reference.

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