The Theunis Bester Hall on the Tshwane University of Technology’s Pretoria Campus was abuzz when celebrated actress, Lillian Dube (72), received an Honorary Doctorate degree from the University during one of its Spring Graduation ceremonies hosted this morning, 18 October.
Considering her rise and success in the entertainment industry, it is hard to believe that her career as an actress wasn’t exactly planned.
She couldn’t have imagined that an impulsive act, some thirty odd years ago, to audition for a role could have led to a career that has included parts in high profile television shows, such as Generations, Mopheme, Soul Buddyz, Mponeng, Skwizas (produced by her own production house), nor that she would appear in films like Cry the Beloved Country, Sweet ‘n Short, Oh Shucks I’m Gatvol, There’s a Zulu on my Stoep, The Ring and African Skies.
“My mother always told me that hard work pays off. I am humbled to be honoured in this way, especially when very few institutions have recognised the industry and its role players to be worthy of such,” she told eTUTor after receiving the degree. She thanked TUT for its visionary leadership in this regard and said that she is proud to be associated with a people’s university.
Ms Dube is perhaps best known for her Soul City alter ego, Sister Bettina. She chose the series over other projects, time and again, since it has given a voice to people who previously couldn’t speak up for themselves, especially women.
She says the role has helped save her life and that of many South Africans in the honest way it assisted them to deal with life’s ups and downs. Ms Dube, with her signature mellifluous voice, loves helping people, and if she cannot help them, she at least wants to be able to make them laugh.
The humanitarian nature of Sister Bettina is also evident in Ms Dube’s own life.
She has put her weight behind several organisations, such as CANSA and Cancervive, of which she is an ambassador. As a cancer survivor she gladly volunteers her time to awareness and related initiatives.
This year, she is part of a recently launched charity television show, featuring celebrities doing charitable work in various communities.
In addition, she is the co-founder of the Lillian Dube National School Shoes Project and the Celebrities for Good Causes Foundation. The former was established after Ms Dube realised that children are still denied access to learning opportunities simply because their parents cannot afford school shoes. The project aims to raise 70 000 pairs of school shoes annually that are distributed to needy school children from disadvantaged families and communities. In 2015, the Lillian Dube National School Shoes Project distributed more than 32 000 pairs of shoes to needy children.
Ms Dube’s professional footprint also extends beyond Mzansi’s borders. A theatrical production that she starred in, Curl Up and Dye, successfully toured Scotland and Germany.
It is no wonder that she has received recognition from far and wide. This includes receiving the National Order: The Officer of the Most Loyal Order of Ramats’eatsana from the Lesotho Government for her contribution, not only to the arts, but also to the Sotho culture (2016), a South African Film and Television Award (SAFTA) for Lifetime Achievement, Performance and Social Activism (2011), and two Artes Awards for Best Actress (1986 and 1990), among others. This is in addition to the multiple acknowledgements for her selfless contribution and active involvement to improve the lives of her fellow citizens.
Ms Dube’s Honorary Doctorate is the fourth conferred by TUT since its establishment in 2004.
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