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Sunday, May 16, 2021

South Africa: History made as Fort Hare awards first PhD written in isiXhosa

Staff Reporter

A high school teacher from East London has made history by being the first Fort Hare PhD student to write her thesis in isiXhosa.

This is a first in the university’s 102-year history.

Nompumelelo Kapa, an isiXhosa teacher at Beaconhurst High School, received a doctorate in literature and philosophy at the university’s Alice campus on Friday.

She said she was proud to have made history by writing her doctoral thesis in isiXhosa.

Sowetan quoted Kapa as saying: “We are talking about transforming and decolonising Africa, so isiXhosa should be considered and we also want to produce more isiXhosa writers, journalists, translators and others.”

Kapa said isiXhosa had become stifled as a result of “people finding it fashionable to write and speak in other languages, especially English, and in the process losing their identity and roots and endangering our heritage”.

Kapa’s supervisor, Professor Nomsa Satyo, described Kapa’s feat as a milestone, according to The Herald. “It is the first of its kind,” Satyo said.

In April last year, Rhodes University student Hleze Kunju became the first PhD student to write a thesis in isiXhosa, according to IOL.

Kapa received wide praise on social media for her achievement.


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  1. This is a big step forward for us that a PhD has been done in an African language although there are many such in Kiswahili. It could well reverse the idea that such academic achievements can only be done in foreign languages as well as inform parents who think their children should only speak foreign languages because African ones, in their view, are backwards. However, the educational framework is still an Indo-European civilization imposition and should be talked next.


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