INTERNATIONALLY acclaimed musician couple Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbulu are to be honoured by one of South Africa’s top universities.
The jazz musicians have been chosen by the University of Cape Town (UCT) for “their rich contributions to their respective areas and society as a whole”.
Semenya and Mbulu will be awarded honorary degrees in June.
“Their nominations for honorary degrees recognise their achievements as well as the respect and reverence they have engendered in communities that love their music and identify with their struggles,” UCT said in a statement.
“Apart from their international reputations as talented musicians, Semenya and Mbulu have each, through their respective musical achievements, also served as unofficial ‘cultural ambassadors’ for South Africa.”
Semenya is a seasoned composer and musical director.
Music bigwigs including Cannonball Adderley, Harry Belafonte and The Crusaders have performed his compositions.
He was nominated for an Oscar for his The Colour Purple piece.
Mbulu has recorded more than 20 albums. She also narrated the You Have Struck a Rock documentary on African women’s campaigns of non-violent disobedience in 1981.
The couple returned from exile in 1990 and were awarded the Order of iKhamanga for their musical contribution to the struggle against apartheid in 2009.
UCT said: “The married couple are role models in South Africa, epitomising values on which to build stable communities including tolerance, dignity, respect, accomplishment and the importance of family.”
Other honorary degree recipients include professor Derek Yellon, a leading cardiovascular scientist, Klaus-J
ürgen Bathe, who is regarded as a “giant in the field of computational engineering mechanics” and professor Daniel Kunene, renowned for translating South African texts from African languages into English and exposing local culture to the world.
Bathe will receive his honorary degree in September.