Vice Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg (UJ), Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, says the late businessman, Richard Maponya’s inspirational life was the reason the university decided to award him a honorary doctorate.
Professor Marwala was speaking at a memorial service to honour Maponya at the Rosebank Union Church in Johannesburg on Friday.
He said in addition to the honorary doctorate awarded in 2010, the university also hosted the Dr Richard Maponya Annual Lecture as well as the Dr Richard Maponya Soweto Conference.
“Never allow your circumstances to determine your dreams. This is what he taught us,” Marwala said.
“It is this desire to give back and his passion for us as University of Johannesburg that we honoured him with a honorary doctorate,” he said.
Entrepreneur and former City of Johannesburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba, said Maponya showed him during the 1970s that even a black man can be a captain of his own destiny.
“During the time when opportunities were limited to black people I never thought as a son of a single mother and a domestic worker I will amount to too much. Those were the dark days of apartheid with the obstmmaacles placed towards us...but during those dark days, I was inspired by an emerging black businessman named Richard Maponya,” Mashaba told the mourners.
“Thanks to Dr Maponya, as we know him today. I’m honoured to be paying tribute to a man who inspired me. As I’m standing here I’m a success in my own right, thanks to this man. If you had told me as a young man during apartheid that I will be standing here paying tribute to the great man Dr Richard Maponya, I would have probably thought you were crazy,” he said.
Another memorial service will be held on Monday at Maponya Mall in Soweto.
This will be followed by an official funeral service at UJ Soweto Campus on Tuesday before he’s laid to rest on the same day.