It was a fine Friday morning in Zululand, with anticipation and excitement brewing at the special graduation ceremony at the Kwa-Dlangezwa Campus in Empangeni - 16km from Richards Bay, awaiting the arrival of the Zulu Monarch, His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini ka Behkuzulu, to receive an honorary doctorate in social work from University of Zululand.
Professor Xoliswa Mtose, vice-chancellor of the university, said that the graduation ceremony was "special because it marks the conferment of an honorary degree to an extraordinary leader, whose philanthropic deeds have made a notable contribution to society".
Speaking at the ceremony was Deputy President David Mabuza, who congratulated the king on his conferment. "We are united in saluting the University of Zululand for its decision to recognise the outstanding humanitarian and developmental work that is at the centre of the work and leadership of His Majesty."
"The conferment of the honorary doctorate in social work to His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini ka Behkuzulu, is a major recognition of the pioneering work that he is doing for the betterment of the lives of the people of KwaZulu-Natal and the entire South Africa," Mabuza said.
Deputy president Mabuza quoted former president Nelson Mandela, who once said that Zwelithini was the most consistent voice and campaigner for peace and unity among his people. It is largely due to his ceaseless commitment to peace that relative stability and peace have come to the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
Some have questioned, however, whether the honour might also be linked to the fact that the university is looking for title deeds to the land it's built on, which is being administered by theThe Ingonyama Trust, of which the king is the sole trustee.
University of Zululand previously honoured the king with an honorary degree in agriculture.
Rhana Naiker, CEO of the Bayethe Foundation says the king accepts the honour from the university with humility, "His majesty is very humbled to accept this honorary doctorate because it is important to maintain the strong links with this knowledge hub. The honour recognises our partnership and is testimony of UBUNTU concept that the King lives and breathes."
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