Out of the 11 doctoral students who graduated at the University of Namibia’s ceremony recently, four graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy in English Studies, a feat that attracted the attention of the public.
Besides scooping the top position as far as the greatest number of doctoral graduates was concerned, one of the four graduates stole the limelight because of her age – obtaining a PhD in English at the ‘tender’ age of 28.
So, it was a double celebration for the English section of the School of Humanities, Society and Development, the students and their parents on Friday evening at an impressive PhD graduation ceremony that was reserved for the last day, and was held with some deserved pomp. As the supervisors of the four English students read the citations of their students, there were intermittent murmurs and applauses from the awestruck audience.
The four English doctoral graduates were Zaochina Gontes, Rauha Nekongo, Theresia Mushandja and Penelope Midzi (the youngest PhD graduate).
Some snippets from the four graduates’ PhD will suffice.
In her dissertation titled ‘Towards Achieving Cohesion and Coherence in Research Projects: An Evaluation of the Use of Discourse Markers by Undergraduate Students at the International University of Management, Namibia’, Zaochina Gontes proposed a model for improving the academic writing skills of university students.
The guidelines she recommends can be used by students to enhance their communication of knowledge and ideas in a coherent manner.
In Rauha Nekongo’s study titled ‘A Linguistic Analysis of Newspaper Sports Headlines from The Namibian, Namibian Sun and New Era Newspapers, 2017-2018’, she unravelled intriguing strategies newswriters use to tweak sports headlines to make readers want to buy the papers and read the articles for themselves. Among other devices, sports writers use “synecdoche, similies, metaphors, personification, metonymy, antithesis, hyperbole, euphemism and oxymoron when formulating headlines.”
For Theresia Mushandja, healthcare communication was her concern in Namibia’s multilingual society. The title of her study is ‘Investigating Healthcare Providers’ and Patients’ Communication Experiences in Windhoek, Namibia: Towards a Communication Model for the Namibian Healthcare Context’. She recommends that the Ministry of Health and Social Services “makes available formalised interpretation services to enhance fair, quality and equitable healthcare provision, and thereby protect and uphold the privacy of the patients”. She also suggests that “healthcare training institutions should have health communication, interpretation and translation modules, in addition to the generic English modules.”
The youngest PhD holder, Penelope Midzi, did not take a break from her Bachelor of Arts in English and Clinical Psychology (Honours), through her Master of Arts in English Studies to the Doctor of Arts in English Studies, and received the doctorate at the age of 28 years. What an inspiration this achievement is to the youth! With literature as her field of specialisation, Midzi explored ‘The Feminisation of Poverty and Victimhood in Dangarembga’s Oeuvre: Cyclic Evocations of Nervous Conditions, Survival and Agency’. The word ‘ouevre’ here means the literary works of the author Tsitsi Dangarembga. The works that Midzi analysed in her dissertation are Nervous Conditions (1988), The Book of Not (2006) and This Mournable Body (2018). Using Africana Womanism, STIWANISM and Nego-Feminism in the analysis of the books, Midzi revealed that “the women in the Shona society are presented diversely, depending on their specific socio-cultural background. The shared themes of womanhood that are depicted in all the texts are the need for a shift of women from the margins of the society to becoming priorities economically, socially and culturally.”
The essence of Midzi’s study is on the focus of the three theories or lenses she used to analyse women’s nervous conditions, survival and agency in the three books.
“African feminism as a concept was used to accommodate the characteristics of the African societies which are uniquely different because of the exclusive cultural, political and social backgrounds, as the other feminisms are peculiar to their origins. STIWANISM understands the female struggles from the perspective of African feminism, which is dependent on the commitment from both sexes and not simply ‘a woman’s affair’ as emphasised by other feminisms. Nego-feminism places both genders side by side as men and women to try and negotiate their places in life, and establishing harmonious co-existence, with negative patriarchal structures melting away,” writes Midzi. This is a relevant study in our societies that are replete with disgusting cases of gender-based violence, with women mainly on the receiving end.
When everything is said and done about the graduation of the four English PhD graduates, it would be incomplete not to mention the men and women who supervised their studies. Midzi was supervised by Nelson Mlambo as main supervisor and Agnes Simataa as co-supervisor; Theresia Mushandja had Nelson Mlambo as main supervisor and associate professor Collin Sabao as co-supervisor; Zaochina Gontes saw professor Jairos Kangira as main supervisor and Saara Mungungu-Shipale as co-supervisor; and Rauha Nekongo had professor Jairos Kangira as main supervisor and associate professor Collin Sabao as co-supervisor.
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