Dr Nompumelelo Kapa's PhD makes history

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East London high school teacher Nompumelelo Kapa has become the toast of Fort Hare with her PhD – the first in the university’s 102-year history to be written in Xhosa. The Beaconhurst High School Xhosa teacher was awarded her doctorate in literature at the university’s spring graduation in Alice on the 19th of October 2018. “I feel very proud that I made history at Fort Hare and am the first one to to write in Xhosa,” said Kapa.“We are talking about transforming and decolonising Africa, so Xhosa should be considered. We also want to produce more Xhosa journalists, writers, translators and others.


“Xhosa has become stifled with people finding it fashionable to write and speak in other languages, especially English. In the process they lose their identity and their roots and endanger our heritage.”

The title of her thesis was “What’s in a Name? Aspects of Culture and the Humour that Influence Naming in Selected Xhosa Drama Texts”.

She said: “I am inspired by my active participation at my school as a Xhosa teacher as well as my involvement in the department of African languages at Fort Hare.“As a teacher, I always read and teach literature and realised that we tend to identify characters basically by the names given to them.

“For a long time, I have been wondering how do authors give names? Do they follow what is being used in real life?” Kapa, who now lives in East London, lamented that some Xhosa-speaking parents undermined the language.

“It shocks me to hear a parent saying: ‘What will my child do with Xhosa in their studies and career?’ “This is as if Xhosa is a doomed language with no future. I urge South Africans to go back to their roots by respecting our language first,” said Kapa.


Kapa, a mother or two, is married to amaXhosa royal Prince Jerry Sigcawu, of Nqadu, in Willowvale. Her thesis has brought pride and joy to the house of Phalo and the amaXhosa nation.

Kapa’s supervisor, Professor Nomsa Satyo, who is the UFH African languages department head, said: ''This really was a thought-provoking journey. “It is the first of its kind! It gives us great pleasure therefore to welcome her as someone who put our university on the research map.

“For many decades, Africa has been the only place in the world where most children are taught in the language that is not their own. This thesis places Xhosa at the centre as far as education is concerned.”


In 2017, Dr Hleze Kunju, of Ngqeleni, became the first PhD student ever to write his thesis in Xhosa. He graduated from Rhodes University.


Source Daily Dispatch