- UNISA recognises the St. Engenas Z.C.C leader for promoting peace, African spirituality and values.
- Vice-Chancellor Professor Puleng LenkaBula says Dr. Lekganyane has made an indelible mark as a nation builder and spiritual leader.
- Dr Lekganyane says Z.C.C has been founded as an instrument of peace and religious change in Africa.
- He urges writers to tell stories about African spirituality, adding Africans have lost their identity.
- Mbeki says Unisa is honoured to have Dr. Lekganyane as an alumnus.
The University of South Africa (UNISA) has honoured St. Engenas Zion Christian Church (ZCC) spiritual leader, Bishop Dr. Engenas Joseph Lekganyane, for outstanding leadership and for promoting African spirituality and values.
The revered Bishop, the head of one of the two Z.C.C churches, was also recognised for his commitment to peace, social justice and the strengthening of African institutions. His Grace, the Right Reverend Bishop Dr. Barnabas Lekganyane, leads the other Z.C.C church (the Star emblem)
Bishop Dr. Lekganyane was conferred a Doctorate of Philosophy in Theology at a graduation ceremony at the university’s Muckleneuk campus in Pretoria on Friday (October 27) evening.
Dignitaries, including Deputy President Paul Mashatile, attended the glittering function, presided over by Unisa Chancellor and former President Thabo Mbeki and the institution’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Puleng LenkaBula.
In welcoming St. Engenas Z.C.C leader, LenkaBula said the momentous occasion served as a testament to the sterling contributions and unwavering dedication that Bishop Dr. Lekganyane has exhibited throughout his illustrious work as a spiritual leader.
She stated that his tireless efforts to advance the principles of faith, spirituality, and communal harmony have left an indelible mark on the religious landscape of South Africa and beyond.
Bishop Dr. Lekganyane’s visionary leadership of the St. Engenas Zion Christian Church has been instrumental in fostering a sense of unity, compassion, and spiritual enlightenment among its devoted followers, she added.
“We couldn’t be happier as a university that today’s graduation is extra special because it is graced by His Grace Bishop Dr. Engenas Joseph Lekganyane, who is receiving his Doctorate Honoris Causa in honor of his decades-long of resilience in ensuring that Africa’s institutions and Africa’s movements become the best and they rally to change the continent for the better.
“He is one who is not apologetic around Africa’s philosophies, religions, cultures, and civilizations for building social capital, social cohesion, and social justice,” LenkaBula said.
Dean of the College of Humanities, Professor Zethu Nkosi, described Bishop Dr. Lekganyane as a “nation-builder and compassionate leader.”
“Bishop Lekganyane’s altruistic and idealistic leadership as well as reliability have earned him reverence across all sectors of society throughout the world. The phenomenal development and growth of the church have culminated in major inroads in the rural and urban communities across the country,” said Nkosi.
“The church has further strengthened its establishment in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), such as Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and beyond. His Grace has himself attained a number of academic qualifications in various fields of learning.”
Unisa acknowledged that the ZCC is renowned for its peace philosophy and has garnered global recognition for its unwavering commitment to spreading transformative theology.
Its devoted members, as ambassadors of peace, embrace the spiritual practice of using the word “kgotso,” meaning peace, as a sacred salutation extended to all individuals.
In his acceptance speech, Bishop Dr Lekganyane said the recognition was an honour for him and the church.
“Let me agree with you without reservation that the St. Engenas Zion Christian Church is making meaningful and visible strides towards the accomplishment of this aspect. With the recognition by your internationally acclaimed institution, significant results will be realized,” said Bishop Lekganyane.
“Let me not be shy to pronounce that your recognition of this church is far from the expectations of this church and human efforts in spreading the word of God. The spinoffs of this will be immeasurable, and for this, thank you very much on behalf of the church.”
Bishop Dr. Lekganyane thanked Mbeki for elevating the St. Engenas ZCC institution, enabling it to play a more prominent role on a global scale.
He said his grandfather and the founder of the Z.C.C, Bishop Engenas Barnabas Lekganyane, wanted the church to be the bastion of peace, African values and cultures.
“St. Engenas established this church aiming at creating spiritual peace, justice, stability, and unity in the African family and community at large. The church must become an instrument of religious change, not only in South Africa but in the SADC region and the whole continent, thanks to this excellent command of African values and cultures.
“He also capitalized on his knowledge that an African is a religious person by nature. The church aimed at producing a Christian totally rooted in an African lifestyle and rooted in an African set-up. This reminds me of ‘I am an African.’ The church has successfully united people of different nationalities,” said Dr Bishop Lekganyane.
The esteemed spiritual leader also called upon writers to tell stories about African spirituality, adding Africans have lost their identity.
“There is an apparent and deliberate neglect to promote African spirituality. Indicative of this fact is that there is very few literature and authors who have written about this important aspect. May I humbly request you, Chancellor, to venture into this field. The African has lost his identity or image. Is it not time to restore it?
Dr Lekganyane added: “This cannot be your function alone. The government, churches and all formations should also give their attention to this aspect, as its neglect will not only deepen moral degeneration but also accentuate social and moral decay.
“If possible, Chancellor, convene an international conference based on an academic debate to address the topic of peace and stability. This, to me, is urgent if we are to live comfortably on this Mother Earth,” concluded Bishop Dr. Lekganyane.
In response, Mbeki promised that Unisa would follow-up on Bishop Dr. Lekganyane’s words of wisdom.
“Your Grace, thank you very much for those words. Dr. Lekganyane, what you said contains a lot of wisdom and some instructions for the university. They are important for the university, the country and the continent. Thank you very much for the blessing. We are very proud, Dr. Lekganyane that you are one of our alumni,” added Mbeki.