WATCH | 91-year-old grandpa graduate gets PhD, but he's not done yet!

2019-10-10 15:31
Andries Conradie, a 91-year-old great-grandfather from Pretoria, recently became the oldest man to obtain his doctorate at Unisa - and, he is not quite done yet.

Andries Conradie, a 91-year-old great-grandfather from Pretoria, recently became the oldest man to obtain his doctorate at Unisa - and, he is not quite done yet. (Unisa)

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Like many of his peers this great grandfather from Pretoria, enjoys walking and birding, but unlike his peers, Andries Conradie recently became the oldest man to obtain a PhD at the University of South Africa (Unisa).

Conradie graduated just two months shy of his 92nd birthday with a doctorate in literature and philosophy.

His doctoral thesis, titled "The Bible as a problematic text - a critical analysis based on controversies in the Dutch Reformed Church", has ruffled a few feathers among the theologians in his own family.

"We come from a family of Dutch Reformed Church pastors," his daughter Dr Alet Harmse, also an academic, told News24.

"He isn't always very popular, but everyone loves Uncle Andries, make no mistake," she said.

"They don't always like what he has to say, but it doesn't really make any difference to the family ties."

She said that they received many congratulatory messages, even from those who didn't agree with his point of view.

Conradie, a former teacher and headmaster, obtained his BA degree in English and history at Potchefstroom University.

Later, he also obtained his master's degree in history.

A new chapter

He came out of retirement some six years ago after the death of his wife.

"There was sort of a vacancy in my life," Conradie said. "So I started reading extensively again."

He said he took up the Bible in this time, but also gravitated toward the writings of Richard Dawkins and Karen Armstrong's reply to Dawkins.

Conradie said it was natural for any thinking person to ask questions about the Bible.

Unisa's Professor Sakkie Spangenberg eventually persuaded him to make his study formal, conduct research and write a thesis.

When he is not studying, Conradie likes birding and stargazing. He has five grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Asked what his secret to staying young and healthy was, Conradie said: "I am a fond walker, I eat moderately and I still enjoy a brandy two to three times a day!"

Read more on:    pretoria  |  education  |  good news
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