UK Honors South African Leaders with Degrees

Title: UK Honors South African Leaders with Degrees
Contact: Cheyenne Hohman
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by Erin Holaday Ziegler

The University of Kentucky will award two legendary South African anti-apartheid activists with honorary degrees on campus this week.

World-renowned leaders Ahmed Kathrada and Barbara Hogan, both of whom served in post-apartheid South Africa as senior officials in President Nelson Mandela's administration, have changed the lives of their country and the world through their tireless work for freedom and democracy.

UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. will confer the Honorary Doctorate of Letters to Hogan and Kathrada during an academic convocation ceremony at 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 13, at the Singletary Center Recital Hall. The event is open to faculty, staff, students and the public.

Kathrada and Hogan will each deliver remarks on contemporary South Africa during the ceremony.

Hogan is an elected member of Parliament and former minister of health of South Africa. Hogan was a political activist in the anti-apartheid movement, culminating in her imprisonment, where she became the first white woman in South Africa to be found guilty of high treason and was sentenced to 10 years. In her position as Minister of Health and as a member of the advisory board of the Amandla AIDS Fund, Hogan led South African efforts to fight AIDS and advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention.  In 2009, Time magazine named her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

"A university of UK’s stature that strives to be even more nationally prominent must be in the business of inviting international world leaders to campus, having the university community celebrate their accomplishments and engage them in earnest discussion,” said Provost Kumble Subbaswamy.

Kathrada was one of eight prisoners (including Nelson Mandela) involved in the Rivonia Trial, which led to life imprisonment with hard labor. Kathrada spent over 26 years in prison. Upon release in 1989, Kathrada held various roles in the new South African government, including being elected to Parliament and serving as President Mandela’s Parliamentary counselor. He has also served as chairperson of the Robben Island Museum Council.

“Barbara Hogan and Ahmed Kathrada are two of the most inspirational leaders of struggle against apartheid in South Africa,” said Mark Kornbluh, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “This was the most successful democratic movement in the 20th century world. They will bring their message of democracy and non-racialism to the University of Kentucky campus.”

Kathrada and Hogan's honorary degrees and visit to UK are all a part of UK's South Africa Initiative. With the theme of "South Africa & Kentucky: Different Lands, Common Ground," UK’s College of Arts and Sciences has featured South African activists, scholars, politicians, art exhibits, performances and coursework throughout the 2010-2011 school year.

The South Africa Initiative provides the campus community as well as the general public with a closer look at the two societies’ rich histories and present-day conditions. For more information on the academic convocation, please see the invitation.The convocation will also be livestreamed at the A&S home page.

If you are interested in attending, RSVP to Amy Hisel at


Article Date: 4/11/2011
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