“I accept this honorary Doctorate with great happiness and humility as a sign of recognition of my contribution to Northern Sotho since 1964 to date. I accept the recognition and honour by the University of Venda”. Those were the words said by Dr Herbert Mokadi Lentsoane when delivering his acceptance speech after a Doctoral Degree in Northern Sotho was bestowed on him at the University of Venda May graduation which took place on Wednesday, 11 May 2016. The graduation continues until Friday, 13 May 2016.
“I must admit that I never thought that one day I will be addressing such an august audience in this academic attire. Once more I am humbled by the gesture of this institution that creates future leaders”, said Lentsoane who was emotional and could not hold his tears of joy. He further talked about his experience that he acquired when staying at Diepkloof in Johannesburg during the apartheid era. He said these sharpened his observation of the horrors of apartheid especially in the Group Areas Act which controlled the movement of blacks from rural to urban areas. His stay also influenced his poetry work hence Maphamoladikanapa(handbag snatcher) and also le lesoleso(Black Wednesday) which captures what he saw on Wednesday, 16 June 1976 and many others that he wrote when he visited his father in Diepkloof.
Dr Lentsoane has done a lot of work for the development of the Northern Sotho language, which is one of the languages offered at the University of Venda. The publication of some of his school magazine called Motswalle wa bana (wamba), edited by the late C.P. Senyatsi, encouraged him to write more and also his grandmother Elsina Makuntane Makgoba, who could not read and write was born a poet whose expertise of reciting traditional praise poems, instilled the love of writing in him. He authored twelve books and co-authored nineteen, edited one and translated many others, including the Northern Sotho Bible.
Dr Lentsoane further said “this recognition and honour could not have materialised if the following had not responded respectively to his creative works and activities in Northern Sotho, those are: readers, students, researchers, teachers, literary critics, reviewers, and so forth. He dedicated his Doctorate in honour to them. He said that his honour and recognition came at a time when our indigenous languages are compromised and undermined by the speakers of the languages who are the owners.” Our languages are not used effectively and that is the reason why they are not developed”, he said. He also raised questions such as, how will languages grow and develop if we do not use them as languages of teaching, learning, used in Parliament, Government Departments and Civil Services and how will they develop if we do not use them correctly in our radio stations.
In conclusion, he committed himself to the University of Venda to share his insight with the University community. He thanked Prof M A Makgopa, Dean in the School of Human and Social Sciences; DR LE Mphasha for identifying him and be able to reach such great heights. He also thanked all those who had worked with him in language matters. He is where he is because of their support.
Herbert was born on 27 November 1946 in Gamarishane Sekhukhune area, Limpopo Province, South Africa. He received his primary education at Marishane Community School and his secondary education at Bopedi Bapedi secondary school and Orlando high school respectively. He holds a Bachelor of Arts, a higher Education Diploma, a Bachelor of Arts (honours) and a Masters of Arts.
Issued by: Department of Communications and Marketing
University of Venda
Tel: 015 962 8525
Date: 12 May 2016