TWO other South African universities said they had planned to honour Xitsonga music king Thomas Hasani Chauke before the University of Venda conferred a Doctor of Philosophy in Xitsonga on him two weeks ago.
But the institutions were pipped to the post.
Speaking at Saselamani Stadium in Limpopo as a guest speaker in the celebrations party for the musician on Saturday, director for research at the University of South Africa, Tinyiko Maluleke, said for someone who grew up in Soweto and spoke a language allegedly regarded as not national, Chauke's music had been inspiring to him.
"Four years ago Daniel Ndobe, who was representing a group of some people, approached me and proposed that Unisa should also honour the musician because he promoted the Xitsonga language. I asked him to make a proper submission," he said.
He said the delay was caused by the fact that Unisa honoured not more than one person a year and at the time it was to honour former United Nations secretary- general Kofi Annan.
Maluleke said Chauke deserved the honour and also praised Univen for honouring the musician.
He said Chauke joined a list of musicians who were honoured by universities, including Hugh Masekela, the late Miriam Makeba and Phillip Tabane of Malombo fame.
He said Chauke was expected to protect the brand of the university as the degree belonged to the university, which had the power to withdraw it if it were being compromised.
Another speaker, Nxalati Golele, who is a Xitsonga language specialist, also praised the musician for his language usage and said it was spot on.
She said her institution - the University of Limpopo - was the first to come up with the idea but there were delays.
Albert Makgopa of the NAR Mathivha Centre for African languages, arts and culture at Univen said the institution was proud to have honoured Chauke because it was in line with its mandate to develop communities in the southern African region.
Other speakers included businessmen Tirhani Mabunda of Tirhani Auctioneers and leading businessman Mike Nkuna who is the musician's business advisor.
Record label EMI's general manager, Orack Shabangu, urged the youth to use the musician's story to inspire them to succeed.