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Change the world


Reasons to be Proud: #R2bP - Chair for African Feminist Imagination and research professor at Mandela University's Centre for Women and Gender Studies Pumla Gqola received an honorary doctorate, Doctor of Literature (DLitt), honoris causa, from Stellenbosch University at its December graduation on Monday 11 December.


Prof Gqola was honoured for her outstanding contributions to academia and the impact that her work in literary and cultural studies has had on social transformation in the higher education sector in South Africa.

In her acceptance speech, Prof Gqola said she was deeply honoured to receive an honorary degree from SU.

She emphasised the value of a humanities education in helping us learn how to think critically and to imagine new relationships to the world around us.

“This recognition matters greatly to me as a stubbornly proud member of the South African professoriate, a feminist academic, and as one committed to the kinds of work we do in the Arts and Social Sciences.

“I am buoyed by the confidence and recognition you bestowed on me for my work in the urgency imagining new ways of thinking about our country and the world, of our place in the world, and of understanding why the grip of violence of gender, race, class, and religious fundamentalism remains."

Prof Gqola encouraged the graduates to help forge pathways to a society that is different from our past.

She added that an Arts and Social Science education equips us to contribute to the collective intellectual and imaginative remaking of a just world in the face of new forms of narrowing freedom, daily humiliations, and deepening inequality.

More about Prof Gqola

Prof Gqola's landmark monograph, “What is slavery to me? Postcolonial/Slave memory in post-apartheid South Africa" (Wits University Press, 2010), was the first full-length study to shed light on slave memory in South Africa and sparked critical dialogue. She earned the prestigious Alan Paton Award for Non-fiction in 2016 for her seminal work, “Rape: A South African Nightmare" (MF Books/Jacana, 2015). Most recently, through her concept of the “Female Fear Factory" (MF books / NB, 2021), Gqola explores the deep-rooted crisis of violence by unravelling the mechanisms that perpetuate rape culture and toxic misogyny.

Beyond her academic pursuits, Gqola has demonstrated a commitment to social justice and gender equality. She was appointed to the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) Ministerial Task Team on sexual harassment and gender-based violence in South African public universities, highlighting her dedication to creating safer spaces for all. Additionally, she serves on the Board of Trustees of the African Feminist strategic litigation firm, Women's Legal Centre. As the 2023 Falling Walls “Science Breakthrough of the Year" award winner, within Social Sciences and Humanities, Prof Gqola's work continues to challenge the wall of violence against women and gender-based violence.

Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160