DURBAN - VUSI Mahlasela, legendary musician, accomplished guitarist and soon to be recognised again as a doctor of music, this time by the University of KwaZulu-Natal, will be conferred with an honorary doctorate next week.
The university is set to recognise Mahlasela for his contribution to the betterment of South African society and to the global music industry.
Five years ago, Rhodes University conferred an honorary doctorate on Mahlasela, while the SA Music Awards presented him with a lifetime achievement award.
Former president Jacob Zuma awarded him the Order of Ikhamanga (silver) in 2012.
Speaking to the Sunday Tribune this week, Mahlasela said: “This is an important honour for me. God gave me the gift to impact people’s lives.
“Everyone who contributes with their skills, academically or on any platform, as long it depicts a picture of who we are, what we should be and instils hope must be acknowledged for their contribution,” he said.
Others who will receive honorary doctorates from UKZN are former statistician-general Pali Lehohla, scientist and cancer treatment researcher Professor Tebello Nyokong, and the first black South African civil engineer to graduate at UKZN, Trueman Goba.
“Everyone has a story to tell, we all have gifts given by God. We need to use them to help others. I started a music academy to pass on all the knowledge I have acquired to young musicians,” said Mahlasela.
“Unfortunately, there’s not enough space to showcase our talent because we lack funding,” said the social activist.
Known as the golden-voiced troubadour, the 53-year-old has been a socially concious musician for more than two decades, releasing his first album, When You Come Back, in 1992.
He has dedicated his life singing about freedom, social justice, police harassment and the Struggle. Constant police harassment and imprisonment did not deter him. In one TED talk performance in June 2007, commemorating June 16, Mahlasela tells a story of how his grandmother threatened apartheid police with boiling water when they came to look for him one evening when he was a teenager. “My grandmother switched off all the lights in the house and opened the kitchen door.
“She said to them, ‘Vusi is here and you are not going to take him tonight. I am tired of you coming here, harassing us while your children are sleeping peacefully in your homes. He is here and you are not going to take him. I’ve got a bowl full of boiling water. The first one who comes in, gets it’,” he said, adding that the cops left soon afterwards.
UKZN’s 2018 graduation ceremonies, at the Westville campus, run from tomorrow until next Tuesday. More than 9410 certificates are expected to be awarded in 20 graduation ceremonies, with 62% of graduates being women.