The University of Cape Town’s Sarah Baartman Hall was a hive of activity over the past week, with cheerful family members and friends bursting into ululations, cheers and applause as the March 2023 cohort of graduates was capped over a bumper 15 ceremonies.
Interim vice-chancellor, Emeritus Professor Daya Reddy, urged graduates to remember that the ties that bind us are our love and well-wishes for South Africa.
“We are sending you into a world that desperately needs your kind of leadership. We are beset with massive problems of poverty and inequality at a national level,” said Emeritus Professor Reddy.
The stars of the show, over 5 000 of them from UCT’s faculties, gave way to their magical moment with fists of triumph held aloft, passionate waves and ululation.
“You have become the wildest fulfilment of childhood belief,” eulogised praise singer Siphokazi Jonas ahead of the ceremonies.
An enthusiastic attendee with raised fist stood up while his loved one was being capped, and excitedly exclaimed, “Yes!” Another family member of a newly adorned graduate shouted “Hallelujah!” to which the assembly replied: “Amen”, in a pleasant show of endearment.
To usher in the milestone, the fabulous fashion on display grabbed attention. Graduates paid tribute to heritage and family with their chosen outfits.
Outside the Sarah Baartman Hall, Faculty of Commerce graduate Hanna Kuruneri and her family paid homage to her lineage with a fusion of Ethiopian crosses on her late father’s shirt, amalgamating their east African heritage and Zimbabwean lineage.
Jamilla Da Cosca-Dah, from the Faculty of Humanities, wore green Ankara fabric apparel, complete with a regal neckpiece. “My entire family is wearing the same fabric,” she said with a smile. “It was a case of ‘go big or go home’ [for graduation]. I was born in South Africa; however, my dad is Nigerian, and I wanted to show my family, with my outfit, that I love them,” the newly capped graduate added.
Outside, a Shembe band serenaded graduates as they gathered for photographs and a toast to their degrees.
“I’m representing the foundations laid before me. I did not make this happen. This is for all the people that came before me; the powers above and below me.”
Nkosinati Dube, also from the Faculty of Humanities, draped himself in colourful isiZulu beads and embroidery detail on his outfit, complete with a lion symbol on his belt. “It’s the pride of the lion,” he emphasised.
“I’m representing the foundations laid before me. I did not make this happen. This is for all the people that came before me; the powers above and below me.
Indeed, the steps outside the Sarah Baartman Hall were a motley of colour, warm embraces, and wholesome shouts of congratulations.
In his paisley suit, armed with his Master of Arts degree, John Chappe De Leonval revealed that he had it made for his matric dance, but that it was only fitting that he wears it for this occasion too.
“Thankfully, I haven’t grown out of it yet,” he quipped. “It [the suit] feels good. I love it because I chose the fabric and design. It is a good day,” he said before announcing his next step: to study further abroad. “I’m taking this suit with me,” he joked.
The scenes of jubilation were best summed up by Jonas’ praise when she said “ndinombono belungiselela olusuku ingathi ngabantwana bevuyela impahla zeKrisimesi. Izihlobo nezalamane sincame konke, zisuka mbhombho zonke zomhlaba bezovuyisana nani; beqhayisela abamelwane … kuba kaloku amaphupho afezekile, izinto zijikile, lambiza ibiseziko ivuthiwe, ngoku litheko” (I have a vision of family and friends gearing up for this day like children happy at the sight of their bespoke Christmas attire. Friends and family have sacrificed from across the country and universe to be here, telling all and sundry about the joyous occasion because dreams have been fulfilled. The slow cooked pot of your work is ready to be served. It is a celebration!)
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