NWU Mahikeng confers first Setswana PhD

Eileen Elizabeth Pooe.
Eileen Elizabeth Pooe.
nwu.ac.za

Eileen Elizabeth Pooe - a teacher, lecturer and head of North West University's Department of Setswana - has become the Mahikeng campus' first Setswana PhD since the department was establishment in 1980.

A doctor of philosophy in languages and literature in Setswana was conferred on Pooe during the university's spring graduation ceremony this week, it said in a statement.

Honorary doctorates had previously been conferred by the university on renowned Setswana authors Dr Joseph Ntsime and Professor Racious Malope.

Conducted entirely in Setswana, Pooe's thesis "controversially postulates that Mhudi, an African novel written in English by Sol Plaatje, is for all intents and purposes a Setswana novel by a Motswana, about Batswana, and should be repatriated into Setswana for the benefit of Plaatje's people, the Batswana".

According to the institution, Pooe - who has served as a member of the Pan South African Language Board's arts and culture committee for Setswana terminology development and is a South African Translators' Institute accredited translator and practitioner - contributed "a lot to the growth of the department and introduced a popular Setswana honours programme in translation and interpreting, maintaining Setswana as language of tuition and research in higher education".

She was also a recipient of the National Library Award as best woman writer of language books for outcome-based education and the curriculum and assessment policy statement (CAPS).

"Her illustrious career as an indigenous language author include familiar titles such as Le re Tlhabetse, a learner book and teachers' guide series for Grade 7 to 9; Platinum Segarona, a learner book and teachers' guide series for Grade 10 to 12; and Re a Ipela, a learner book and teachers' guide series for Grade 11 to 12," the university said.

"In addition to her published set of works, Dr Pooe also translated the Setswana section of the South African multilingual dictionary for schools and developed addendums for prescribed novels for Grade 12. These include Masego by Gomolemo Mokae (2009), Omphile Umphi Modise by Monyaise as well as DPS (2009) and Ntlhomole Mmutlwa by OR Lebelo (2016)."

Pooe's promoter, Professor Shole Shole, said her feat was "indeed a historical achievement". 

"This is a fitting tribute to the pioneering professors Setshedi and Malope, the deputy vice-chancellor and vice-chancellor of the former UNIBO who advocated for the use of Setswana - and African languages in general as mediums of learning, tuition and research in higher education," he added.

- Compiled by Tammy Petersen

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