World-renowned artist and Ndebele icon Esther Mahlangu was on Monday awarded her degree of Philosophia Doctor Honoris at a graduation ceremony held at the University of Johannesburg (UJ).

“She has broken down barriers in her own way”

The university said it was an honour in recognition of the work Esther Mahlangu has done to preserve the legacy of the Ndebele people and educating both young and old on the importance of preserving culture.  UJ said that they recognized her “legacy as a cultural entrepreneur who has skillfully negotiated local and global worlds and played a major role as an educator”.

Mam’ Esther has many local and international awards under her stable of prestige since getting into the spotlight (and owning it) in 1989 at a groundbreaking exhibition, Magiciens de la Terre, in Paris.

“Being recognized at home is such a blessing. It shows that my people still see the great work that I do,” she said.

This doctorate is truly a testament to the importance of embracing diversity and leaving a legacy of pride for future generations whose cultural histories have been displaced or forgotten.

We couldn’t think of someone more deserving. Congratulations mama!