UJ’s Faculty of Education
honoured, Mhlophe, for the remarkable contribution she has made to public life by fighting illiteracy, and through her significant contribution to revive and promote the tradition of storytelling as a means of educating South Africans of all ages. She accepted the honorary doctoral degree on Tuesday, 13 March 2012, during the first graduation series of the University.
Mhlope has written many acclaimed works of children’s literature as well as adult poetry, short stories and plays. Her writings are published all over the world and have been translated into German, French, Italian, Swahili and Japanese. Her work is used extensively in many schools and universities. Her contribution to Education also lies in her production of children’s literature in many of the official languages, herNOZINCWADI Mother of Books literacy campaign, and the “Millions book project” have both touched the lives of thousands of children in the country.
She has also collaborated with READ (a literacy organization) to promote literacy where it is most desperately needed. Ms Mhlope travels to perform storytelling in mostly rural schools. She takes books to these rural schools and assists in setting up libraries. She has also promoted reading through her storytelling series broadcasted by the SABC.
Mhlope is an immensely talented writer, actress, mime artist and singer. She has been writing and performing on stage and screen for the past 24 years. Storytelling is an important part of Africa’s heritage and serves in various ways to enhance identity and self-esteem, while at the same time entertaining and educating. She not only works to revive and restore this ancient art, she also expands on traditional storytelling through her development of characters, the dramatization of stories, and use of handmade puppets, toys and masks. She tells stories in four different languages to groups ranging from nursery schools to literacy organizations, teacher training programmes, universities and unions. Mhlope has shown that storytelling is a useful tool to engage both students and teachers in creative thinking, and that it can be easily applied to teach school subjects.
She has received numerous national and international awards, including honorary doctoral degrees for Literature and Contribution to Africa’s Cultural Heritage from University of Pretoria and from Fort Hare University. She has also been awarded an honorary doctorate from the London Open University.