Mrs Biko’s Acceptance Speech on receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree

Bishop of Makhanda, Ebenezer Ntlali anoints Mam’ Biko following the awarding of the Honorary Doctrate of Laws Degree by Rhodes University at the Steve Biko Centre.

I would like to thank Rhodes University for the honour it has bestowed upon me through the award of a Doctor of Laws (honouris causa), in recognition and celebration of my contribution as a dedicated community activist and advocate for the upliftment of the poor and marginalised.


I must specifically thank the Vice Chancellor Dr Sizwe Mabizela. May I also extend my gratitude to the University Council as well as all those who were involved in the process of nominating and adjudicating candidates for this year’s award of honorary degrees. Congratulations to the other outstanding fellow recipients who are being recognised tonight for how they have applied themselves in the world in which we live and are today being conferred degrees for the sake of honour.


Congratulations to you, the 2021 class of graduates whose hard work and dedication has earned qualifications by way of examination in the respective fields of your endeavours. It is heartening to know that despite the challenges of the past year somewhere out there are proud parents who gave their all so that you can join the gallery of graduates of this distinguished institution; some of you for the first time and for others yet one more time.


I was last at Rhodes as a guest of the Vice Chancellor on the occasion of his inauguration on that memorable day in February 2015. Back then none of us could have predicted that the years immediately ahead would present such turbulence. I want to share four national and global movements that have since nudged us forward as humanity.


On 09 March 2015, a month after the inauguration of the Vice Chancellor young people organised themselves under the movement Rhodes Must Fall, which was originally in protest against a statue at the University of Cape Town. This quickly grew into an international campaign, which challenged us to reflect on the need to change the very foundation of our institutions of higher learning. In the language of Black Consciousness, they called on us to dress these institutions, which are deep in the belly of Africa, in African attire – in look as well as in substance.


In October of the same year students proceeded to lead the Fees Must Fall Movement. On this occasion our youth reminded us that the promise of accessible education for all, which was part of the promise of the struggle, and on the basis of which the people entered into a social contract with the ruling elite, was yet to materialise. Indeed, the generation of young leaders who took up this mantle under these movements must be praised for shaking the nation out of its slumber. لعبة فلوس حقيقية

Then last year the world witnessed the global resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movement, which began in 2013 but was re-energised by the brutal killing George Floyd in Minneapolis. It spread into a global tide that has us thinking anew about creating inclusive societies.

All three movements that I referenced have one thing in common – the unmistakably bold voice of young leadership. They reminded us just how much work remains to be done in liberating Black people and improving the lived reality of many citizens in our country, our continent and the African Diaspora.


Some of the brave leaders of these movements are graduating today. As you step out of the world of scholarship, you should embrace more firmly the world of engaged citizenship – a world that triumphs through sustained activism and leadership. You should continue to use the weapon of knowledge that you have acquired as a tool for social activism and improving the lives of our people. رهان المباريات You have come to inspire us in ways we could not possibly have imagined only a few years ago, when we referred to you as the lost generation.


I want to turn to the fourth incident that we could not have imagined as we gathered here for that inauguration. Since the beginning of the calendar year 2020, the world has lost over 2,7 million people to the Covid-19 pandemic. Our own country has lost more than fifty thousand. May their families be comforted and May their Souls Rest in Eternal Peace.

It is important to remember that the initial prediction was that we would lose as many as three hundred thousand citizens to the Covid-19 pandemic. bet365 arabic We were in a panic concerned that the poor and marginalised would be most vulnerable. We are not out of the woods yet, but it is important to recognise that our nation appears to be tracking better than most predictions. For this we must tip our hat to those who provided us with great leadership, notwithstanding some of the challenges.

When I mapped out my own life as a young person I decided to dedicate it to the provision of quality health care services to our people. I joined nursing in 1966 as a trainee at King Edward VIII Hospital and although I am no longer in uniform, it remains a world in which I am engrossed through the King William’s Town Retired Nurses Association, of which I am an active member.


Therefore on this occasion as you kindly celebrate my own contribution to our people, it is appropriate to share that honour with the world that made me. Please join me in paying tribute to our frontline workers – the doctors, nurses, caregivers and the general medical support staff who, collectively, have prioritised our national welfare over theirs. They have gone to battle to stem the tide that threatened our people and they have brought us to the edge of victory.


May they be richly blessed with the honour they truly deserve.


Thank you. Enkosi.

  • Nkululeko Somhlahlo | Apr 30, 2021 at 10:30 am

    Ndlovukazi!!!!! You remain a source of inspiration as we soldier on against a tide the seeks to derail a just cause. You unrelenting commitment to the empowerment of communities is a shining beacon of hope. Unsung yet a warrior!!!! Congratulations Ndlovukazi!!!

  • Frans Malose Pale | Apr 30, 2021 at 2:54 pm

    Mrs Biko, thank you very much for this inspiration. You demonstrate to us that we can add value to Black communities by being active and help our people achieve assertiveness without us making a noise about it. You inspire me to continue to identify and help our people in need without making noise about it. Once again thank you Ndlovukazi ya seAzania.

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