Professor Loyiso Nongxa, former vice-chancellor of Wits, with Phindile Ntliziywana, who is only the second person from the Eastern Cape village of Mhlanga in Lady Frere to graduate with a PhD. The first person was Nongxa, who was granted special permission upon Ntliziywana’s request to cap his fellow villager, an honour usually granted to UWC rector Professor Tyrone Pretorius. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Phindile Ntliziywana became the second person from his Eastern Cape village to graduate with a PhD when he was capped on Friday morning at UWC.

Ntliziywana, 36, a lecturer at the University of Cape Town, comes from the village of Mhlanga in Lady Frere.

For his PhD in Local Government Studies, Ntliziywana’s unorthodox request to be capped by his village’s first-ever PhD holder, Professor Loyiso Nongxa, was granted by UWC.

“I am actually the second (PhD holder) from our village. Professor Nongxa showed us the way 35 years ago. He defended his doctoral thesis in 1982 at Oxford University in London, the year I was born, and graduated the following year (1983). So he is a torch-bearer in my village and in many other communities. I follow in his footsteps,” a proud Ntliziywana said.

“A lot of work was put into the process of obtaining the PhD. I was motivated by the fact that there is someone who did it in my village in the person of Professor Nongxa.

“The fact that he did it first was always at the back of my mind as an inspiration.”

He described the graduation as a huge achievement, not only for himself but for his village as well.

Through his organisation, the Mhlanga Development Forum, Ntliziywana is eager to see the number of PhDs in his village rocket.

“Myself, Professor Nongxa and others have been involved in a community upliftment project where we inspire the youth to reach for the stars. This, in a sense, is our way of leading by example. We are walking the talk. We have been involved in this project since 2014 and strides have been made.”

Ntliziywana said he was not initially sure his request to have his mentor cap him instead of UWC rector Professor Tyrone Pretorius would be granted.

“He surprised me by saying he is quite touched that I have asked him to robe me on my special day.

“It was an absolute honour and privilege for me to hear those words. He has held the title for many years, 35 years. He is now handing it to me.”

Ntliziywana aims to publish a book on professionalism in local government.

“My long-term goal is to have maximum impact on policy developments in the area of local government. This entails writing papers, a book and academic articles that are socially responsive and aimed at addressing the needs of our society. I also intend growing into a fully-fledged academic.”

He said the non-profit Mhlanga Development Forum is dedicated to rural development and bringing opportunities to destitute residents. It is currently building an information and communication technology and library centre.

Weekend Argus