Rhodes University on Thursday announced that it is going to honour the legendary isiXhosa news anchor, Noxolo Grootboom, with an honorary doctorate
“At its second virtual graduation ceremony for Masters and PhD students on 29 October 2021, Rhodes University will confer a degree of Doctor of Letters (D Litt) (honoris causa) on retired SABC isiXhosa news anchor, Ms Noxolo Grootboom,” said the university.
“I feel so speechless. I am out of words to thank Rhodes University for the honour bestowed on me. Each event of my life is a life lesson that cannot be merely explained,” said Grootboom.
“Even though I had minimal opportunities to further my studies, it seemed as if my dreams about my future were perishing.
“Today, Rhodes University teaches me that hope is always ignited when it seems as though your dreams are perishing. And when that hope is ignited, it leads you to a new dream.
“Today, I feel like I am a living example to the youth. This is because, when you devote yourself to your work, new opportunities open up. I am very thankful to Rhodes University for this opportunity. Only a wicked person despises success.
“Lastly, my fellow people, I would have failed if I did not express my sincere gratitude to my home language. I am being honoured today because of isiXhosa. Rhodes University warmly congratulates Mam’ Noxolo on this richly deserved recognition.”
Grootboom is recognised nationally for her significant promotion of national pride and culture through her journalistic career, which spanned 37 years.
Grootboom’s legendary status is derived from her contributions in the broadcasting industry and to South Africa, through performing her career responsibilities in ways that inspired many citizens, even during the most difficult times.
Her uncanny ability to connect with her audience through the powerful medium of her language and drawing from her culture distinguished Mam’ Noxolo as the face and voice of the nation during historic national events such as elections.
At the height of her career, she embodied the national emotion as the anchor for the funerals of important South African figures.
Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela said: “Our nation owes her an unpayable debt of gratitude and appreciation for all that she has done to give much-needed hope to many South Africans in times of national loss and despair and for being a passionate advocate of the isiXhosa language in our society. Mam’ Noxolo read the news so beautifully and with such pride.
“We thought it was important for Rhodes University to acknowledge her many contributions to our society.
“Her trademark sign-off line ‘Nanga ngobubusuku ningalala nombethe ingubo yemvisiswano, uxolo, nothando. Ndinithanda nonke emakhaya’ will remain her profound and lasting gift of love, peace and care to our nation.
“Her humility and humanity is something that will never be forgotten. She deserves this highest honour of the University.”
Noxolo Grootboom was born on 8 October 1960 in Lady Frere in the Eastern Cape.
She spent the best part of her formative years in Tyatyorha location in Healdtown, Fort Beaufort.
Grootboom went to do her primary school years between Healdtown Primary School in Fort Beaufort, Lovedale Primary School in Alice and Davis Primary School in Butterworth.
She did her high school years in Lamplough High School and Bethel College in Butterworth.
In 1981, she moved with her siblings to Soweto, where she enrolled in a computer course at a Computer Academy.
On 1 December 1983, she joined the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) as a typist. After spending three years on the job, she was appointed as a Production Assistant.
During this time, she was mentored by senior journalists as her interest at the time was storytelling.
Later, she would start serving as a current affairs producer and a field journalist and later became a news anchor.
In 1990, her big break came when she was asked to stand-in for the late Mam’ Thandi Mesetywa’s news anchor to read a bulletin.
The station was impressed enough that they asked her to continue to anchor the isiXhosa news.
The retired news anchor will be conferred with an honorary doctorate next week on Friday.