Vusi Mahlasela is now a singing Doctor

The singing Doctor, Vusi Mahlasela
Legendary South African singer Vusi Mahlasela is now a Doctor, of sorts. On Friday 5 April 2013, the Rhodes University conferred on Vusi Mahlasela an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa, “for the role he has played in helping to unify and contributing to the building of the South African nation as a social commentator and through the medium of popular African music”. The citation on the musician, read by Professor Paul Maylam during the graduation ceremony, states: “Rhodes University is proud to award to an outstanding, versatile musician, described in Who’s Who South Africa as ‘an accomplished guitarist, percussionist, composer, arranger, band leader and performer’. An inspiration to the anti-apartheid movement, his songs became anthems, and he remains one of South Africa’s foremost songwriters”. In his acceptance speech Dr. Vusi Mahlasela indicated that it was indeed a surprise for him to receive such a prestigious hour in that he had not gone far in his schooling. “I am indeed humbled by the gesture and so proud to have been thought of in this light by the entire Rhodes University community.” He indicated that even though he dreamt of being a medical doctor or priest when he was growing up, circumstances such as poverty forced him to instead end up “taking music as a full-time career in order to make a living”. However, he was made aware by certain distinguished personalities who followed his music that his was actually already preaching positive messages to people and healing them through his music. “The eminent people referred to earlier further gave meanings and identity of my music through well-considered concepts, doctrines and philosophies” reveals Dr Mahlasela. “For instance, the South African Noble Literature Laureate Nadine Gordimer once described my work as of national treasure for its social relevance”.