North West University confers its first PhD in Setswana

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – The University of North West (NWU) in Mahikeng has conferred its first-ever Doctor of Philosophy in Languages, Literature in Setswana to one of its lecturers and head of Department of Setswana, Eileen Elizabeth Pooe.

Her thesis was titled: “Taoto ya Phetsolelo ya Mhudi ka Sol T. Plaatje mo Setswaneng jaaka mmusetsagae wa dikwalo tsa Maaforika tsa Seesimane” and was conducted entirely in Setswana, the institution said.

“This is the first-ever Setswana PhD in the history of the Department of Setswana, since its establishment about 39 years ago. Her thesis controversially postulates that Mhudi, an African novel written in English by Sol Plaatje, is for all intents and purposes a Setswana novel by a Motswana, about Batswana, and should be repatriated into Setswana for the benefit of Plaatje’s people, the Batswana,” NWU said in a statement.

“Dr Pooe has contributed a lot to the growth of the department and introduced a popular Setswana honours programme in translation and interpreting, maintaining Setswana as [the] language of tuition and research in higher education.”

She has published a set of works throughout her career. These include school books and teacher’s guide series such as  ‘Le re Tlhabetse’, ‘Platinum Segarona’ and ‘Re a Ipela’.

“In addition to her published set of works, Dr Pooe also translated the Setswana section of the South African Multilingual Dictionary for Schools and developed addendum for prescribed novels for Grade 12. These include Masego by Gomolemo Mokae (2009), Omphile Umphi Modise by Monyaise, DPS (2009), and Ntlhomole Mmutlwa by OR Lebelo (2016),” the institution said.

Pooe also served as a member of the Pan South African Language Board’s arts and culture committee for Setswana terminology development.

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