Walking in his professor's steps: Eastern Cape village's second PhD graduate

Walking in his professor's steps: Eastern Cape village's second PhD graduate

- A small village in the Eastern Cape has produced it’s second PhD graduate when Phindile Ntliziywana was capped on Friday at the University of the Western Cape with his doctorate in Local Government Studies

- Previously the village had another academic achiever with Professor Loyiso Nongxa, who defended his doctorate at Oxford in the same year that iziywana was born, having come from the same village

- Ntliziywana’s unorthodox request to be capped by Professor Loyiso Nongxa, was granted by UWC

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The Eastern Cape Province suffers some of the worst educational opportunities than almost any other area in South Africa. So much so that children are often sent to the Western Cape by their parents in the hope that they can receive a better education than that available to them in their own province.

However, Briefly.co.za has learned that one village has produced not just one, but two PhD graduates who have despite their humble place of origin were able to rise above all adversity and achieve a terminal qualification.

Phindile Ntliziywana, 36, who graduated with a PhD when he was capped on Friday morning at UWC is a lecturer at the University of Cape Town comes from the village of Mhlanga in Lady Frere.

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He decided to pay homage to his fellow villager and academic by making the rather unorthodox request For his PhD in Local Government Studies that he be capped by his village’s first-ever PhD holder, Professor Loyiso Nongxa.

Ntliziywana said he was unsure his request to have his mentor cap him instead of UWC rector Professor Tyrone Pretorius would be granted. Happily UWC obliged and Ntliziywana was able to express his appreciation symbolically to the man he considered as a mentor.

“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.”

“I am actually the second 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,” explained Ntliziywana.

He added that throughout the work that he had to put in during his studies, the knowledge that someone form his village had done it and succeeded was a strong motivator. “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.

He has formed an organisation, the Mhlanga Development Forum, through which 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.”

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.

Ntliziywana wants to use what he has learned to help others and 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.”

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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