‘Visionary’: DUT awards its late founder a doctorate

2011-04-20 00:00

PHILANTHROPIST and humanitarian Hajee Muluk-Mahomed Lappa Sultan, who was the founder of M.L. Sultan Technical College, was awarded an honorary doctorate posthumously by the Durban University of Technology yesterday.

Addressing graduates in the faculty of management sciences during a graduation ceremony held at the Steve Biko campus yesterday, Sultan’s grandson, Yunus, described the moment as historical, especially for the Sultan family.

“The Sultan family are proud that this institution is recognising the late Hajee M.L. Sultan, although belatedly.

“Hajee M.L Sultan founded the M.L. Sultan Technical College as it was initially know. In today’s monetary value, he donated the equivalent of R300 million for the founding of this institution.”

The college was officially opened in 1956 with an enrolment of 240 full-time and 4 760 part-time students. In 1979 it became known as M.L. Sultan Technikon, which now forms part of the Durban University of Technology.

Sultan said his grandfather arrived in South Africa at the age of 17. He became a successful and prominent business man, but only after humble beginnings. His took on several menial jobs, such as a being a railway porter at the Durban station and wait on tables at a well-known Johannesburg hotel.

Yunus said his grandfather turned to banana farming in Escombe near Durban where he spent most of his life.

Here he also opened a wholesale and retail business and became successful in the property market.

“A few know that this great visionary knew then that the only road to freedom was though education. He himself was unschooled.

“ … even fewer know that M.L. Sultan gave all his wealth to establishing schools in KZN. He left nothing to his family but his legacy of selfless service and a farm …”

Sultan contributed to establishing schools and tertiary institutions in Pietermaritzburg, Merebank, Colenso, Ladysmith, Kranskop and Stanger.

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