Honorary doctorate for Sibongile

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

Rhodes University will on Saturday confer an honorary music degree on musician Sibongile Khumalo.

The honour is in recognition of her contribution to music in the country.

Khumalo, who has been trained in classical music but has since successfully turned to jazz, will be honoured alongside Lynette Marais, the veteran arts administrator who headed the Grahamstown National Arts festival for 20 years. She retired last year.

Marais will receive a Doctor of Laws honour and Khumalo, who is festival committee chairperson, will be receiving a Doctor of Music honorary degree during the university's graduation ceremonies on Thursday and Saturday.

Marais is one of South Africa's most accomplished arts administrators. Her advice is constantly sought by festival producers, arts sponsors and the government.

During the apartheid years, especifically during the years of excessive state censorship in South Africa, she fiercely demonstrated her courage by giving artists of all persuasions the right to express themselves through their diverse art-forms and through their diverse art content.

Since taking over the leadership in 1989, she has grown the National Arts Festival to become the largest arts festival on the continent.

She has navigated the festival through various economic and political terrains to make it the "Proudly South African" product it became.

Khumalo, is being honoured for her outstanding contribution to jazz, classical opera and popular urban music.

"It's a moment of great pride, yet deeply humbling. I keep thinking of my parents, especially my dad, and their role in shaping my life," said Khumalo.

"Both Marais and Khumalo have a special brand of leadership that has unearthed many national treasures and have made many incredible investments to advance South Africa's rich arts and cultural legacy," festival chairperson Ayanda Mjekula said.

"Rhodes University's vision to confer an honorary doctorate to both these leaders is an inspiration to the arts community.

It is a strong endorsement of the role played by these women in growing the National Arts Festival to become one of South Africa's most precious cultural gems," she said."

Khumalo currently holds a leadership position in the Grahamstown National Arts festival.