Celebrated actress Thembi Mtshali-Jones and 5 other industry icons who hold honorary doctorates

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Dr. Thembi Mtshali-Jones.
Dr. Thembi Mtshali-Jones.
Photo: @mtshalijones Instagram.
  • On May 16, 2022, well-loved actress Thembi Mtshali-Jones added the title Dr to her list of accolades.
  • The legendary actress who is famously known for her role as Thoko on 'Sgudi 'Snaysi says she is ever-grateful for the honour bestowed upon her.
  • She is among the few black, female industry icons who have received honorary doctorates in South Africa. 

On Monday, May 16, 2022 veteran actress and industry giant, Thembi Mtshali-Jones was conferred an honorary Doctor of Philosophy in Visual and Performing Arts by the Durban University of Technology (DUT), under the Faculty of Arts and Design.

The actress first got into the industry as a singer and quickly became a household name after her appearance on series, soapies and sitcoms across different genres. Among the many shows she has starred in, her role as Thoko on the South African sitcom iSgudi ‘Snaysi stood out and made her a favourite amongst audiences.

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The actress and playwright also has a number of awards that speak to her legendary status such as the Golden Horn Lifetime Achievement award, the Lifetime Achievement award for Theatre as well as the 2019 Living Legends award from the US. Now, she has been bestowed with the Doctor of Philosophy to honour and celebrate her as a living legend and for her contribution to the arts.

Taking to her Instagram to show gratitude for the honour and congratulatory messages, the iconic actress said,

“Thank you @dutartsanddesign and @dut_official1 for this amazing honour.

I see that the cat has been let out of the bag. I am so humbled by all of the people who have been posting this milestone of mine and congratulating me. My journey has been a long one, one that has been filled with many challenges and achievements. This one is even sweeter because I have received it from my hometown. I accept this not only on my behalf but also on behalf of many of my peers who have passed on before having the opportunity to be celebrated. I started my career in the early 70's and I had no idea that even after 5 decades I would still be standing strong and still doing what I love.Again, I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has been and still are a part of my journey.”

Veteran Dr Thembi Mtshali-Jones.
Veteran Dr Thembi Mtshali-Jones.

Dr Mtshali-Jones is one of a few more black women who have been celebrated and bestowed honorary doctorates for their contribution to the arts.

READ MORE | Esther Mahlangu gets conferred with an honorary doctorate

Here’s a list of other arts legends who have received honorary PHDs:

South Africa's first lady of song, Dr Sibongile Khumalo, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Music posthumously by Wits University, in April, 2021.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 11: Sibongile Kh
The late Dr Sibongile Khumalo. (Photo by Brigitte Engl/Redferns)

Dr Esther Mahlangu received an honorary doctorate for “her legacy as a cultural entrepreneur and educator, skillfully negotiating local and global worlds” from the University of Johannesburg in April, 2018.


JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA APRIL 09: (SOUTH AFRIC
Renowned South African artist Esther Mahlangu. Kabelo Mokoena/Sowetan/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Dr Lilian Dube received her honorary doctorate in drama and film production from the Tshwane University of Technology, in April 2017.

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 09: Dr Lilli
(Photo by Gallo Images/Oupa Bopape)

Dr Rebecca Malope Malope received an honorary doctorate from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the University of California for her contribution to the music industry, in 2003.

SANDTON, SOUTH AFRICA - NOVEMBER 24: (SOUTH AFRICA
Gospel star Dr Rebecca Malope.

Dr Yvonne Chaka Chaka received (her first) honorary doctorate for her humanitarian work in Africa and other parts of the world in raising awareness on issues affecting women, including malaria, maternal and child health, HIV, empowerment, education and poverty, in April 2012.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 24: Yvonne Chaka Chaka att
Dr Yvonne Chaka Chaka. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for BET)

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