THE University of Venda has finally conferred a honorary doctor of philosophy degree in Xitsonga on acclaimed singer Thomas Chauke.

Chauke received the degree at a graduation ceremony Friday.

One of his popular hits, Rosa, was played and the entire hall, including Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale, went into a frenzy, dancing with abandon.

Chauke's wives, Lucy, Florah, and Ethel took to the stage and danced as they do at festivals.

Chauke said the award was not his alone but belonged to his band.

He also dedicated it to Xitsonga music pioneers, his peers and all his supporters.

"Through this award your work is recognised," he said. "Like books, music strives to show the thoughts and feelings of people."

He said Xitsonga music was not only for Xitsonga-speaking people.

"Many of our songs are about families, marriage, love social problems, the youth and nation building," he said.

He called on aspiring musicians to strive to attain a good education as a foundation for their success in music.

"Do not say 'Thomas Chauke succeeded after dropping out in Standard 3', with education Chauke would have been more successful," he said.

For someone who dropped out of school at Standard 3, Chauke's musical success is like a fairy tale.

He has received one diamond disc, one double gold, 6 platinum, 11 double platinum and 9 triple platinum discs.

He also received 11 awards from Munghana Lonene FM, 13 Samas, one South African traditional music award and a host of other awards that include a certificate of recognition from former Kwa-Zulu Natal premier Sbu Ndebele.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, who is chancellor of the university was present.