David Rattray honoured with a doctorate

2008-04-15 00:00

World-renowned historian David Rattray was yesterday awarded a posthumous honorary doctorate by the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Rattray, a graduate of the university, was honoured as a Doctor of Social Science for his deep love and passion for the environment, Zulu culture and the country through his work, which attracted thousands of tourists to the province annually.

Rattray received a standing ovation and a moment of silence, as his father, Peter, received the doctorate in his honour. His wife and three sons were also present.

"It is an enormous honour. He would have been very proud. I wish he could have been alive to see this," said Gillian Rattray, his mother.

"It is remarkable that the university should remember him. It makes one optimistic, it is really great," said Peter.

In his speech, Peter spoke about his son’s work and his contributions to the people of KZN, particularly in Umzinyathi, where his Fugitives’ Drift Lodge is.

"You will forgive me for being elaborate in speaking about this remarkable young man.

His death gave to banner headlines at a level signifying that a hero had gone from us.

People came as far as Hong Kong and Los Angeles to pay their tribute."

Rattray was murdered at his lodge in January last year. He was 48.

At the lodge, he captivated thousands of visitors through his vivid accounts of the Anglo-Zulu war, telling it from a Zulu perspective.

Among his list of accomplishments was receiving a Ness Award for broadening the understanding of Zulu culture. "David took the misused piece of land in an impoverished part of the country and made it into paradise [and] a prestigious historical site," said Peter.

sphumem@witness.co.za

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