Varsity to honour music duo

18 February 2013 - 02:26 By PHILANI NOMBEMBE
Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbulu
Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbulu

Internationally acclaimed music couple Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbulu are to be honoured by a top university.

They are to be awarded honorary degrees by the University of Cape Town in recognition of "their rich contributions to their respective areas and to society as a whole".

They will be awarded the degrees in June.

"Their nominations recognise their achievements, as well as the respect and reverence they have engendered in communities that love their music and identify with their struggles," the university said.

"Apart from their international reputations as talented musicians, Semenya and Mbulu have each 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 composition The Colour Purple.

Mbulu has recorded more than 20 albums. She narrated the You Have Struck a Rock documentary about African women's non-violent disobedience campaigns in 1981.

The phenomenal couple returned from exile in 1990 and were awarded the Order of iKhamanga in 2009 for their contribution to the music struggle against apartheid.

"They are role models in South Africa, epitomising values on which to build stable communities, including tolerance, dignity, respect, accomplishment and the importance of family," the university said.

Other honorary degree recipients include Professor Derek Yellon, a leading cardiovascular scientist, Klaus-Jürgen 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 for exposing South African culture to the world. Bathe will receive his degree in September.