KAMPALA–Winnie Mandela, widow to South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, will be awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws during the 68th graduation ceremony at Makerere University slated for later this month.
The 81-year-old veteran politician is being recognised for her contribution towards the eventual elimination of apartheid in South Africa.
Apartheid was a system of institutionalised racial segregation and discrimination in South Africa between 1948 and 1991 based on white supremacy and usage of the majority of the population for the benefit of one group (i.e White people).
Makerere will hold its 68th graduation ceremony from Tuesday 16th to Friday 19th January 2018, the university authorities have confirmed.
A total of 15,172 students are expected to graduate this year. Of these, 36 will graduate with PhDs, 436 with Masters and 11,300 with bachelor’s degrees and diplomas. At least 3,400 are from Makerere University Business School- MUBS.
Makerere University had wanted to recognise Winnie Mandela in August last year during the Nelson Mandela Commemorative Lecture, but the South African High Commission in Kampala reported that she was sick and unable to attend. Instead, it is her granddaughter Zoleka Mandela who attended the event.
Winnie was among the activists who pushed forward the anti-apartheid struggle after her husband and other political activists were jailed in 1964 and remained incarcerated for nearly three decades. Mandela was among the last to be released in 1990, going on to win the first multi-racial elections in 1994. He and Winnie had, however, separated in 1992 and they officially divorced in 1996.
Mandela retired from the presidency in 1999 but remained active in public life for another decade until around 2010 when he admitted he needed to rest because of old age. He died in December 2013 aged 95.
Honorary awards are in accordance with Section 47 of the University and Other Tertiary Institutions Act 2001. According to the Act, the university may consider conferring an honorary degree upon any person who has excelled in any sector of life as it may deem fit on the recommendation of an Honorary Degrees Committee established jointly by the Senate and the University Council.
The honorary degree awards are in three categories: Doctor of Science (DSc.) for academic contribution in the field of science; Doctor of Letters (D. Litt) for contribution in the humanities; and Doctor of Laws (LL.D) for public service by eminent statesmen, administrators and lawyers.
Over the years, Makerere University has awarded several individuals honorary degrees for their contributions in various areas. The long list has President Yoweri Museveni who was honoured in 2010 for his steadfast commitment to promotion of science, expansion of education, governance and security, including contribution to the East African integration, and gender mainstreaming in education and politics.
Others are former presidents Julius Nyerere and Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya – all alumni of Makerere – and former Tanzanian vice president Rashid Kawawa, among others.