The South African Humanities Deans’ Association (Sahuda) and the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) are shocked and saddened at the news of the untimely passing of Professor Gregory H. Kamwendo, a University Dean, Member of Sahuda Exec, Linguist and proponent of indigenous knowledge systems.
Professor Kamwendo obtained a Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Malawi, a Master’s degree in Language Studies from Lancaster University in England, and a PhD from Helsinki University in Finland.
His academic career began at the University of Malawi in 1990 where he was employed as a staff associate in the Department of English immediately after completing his Bachelor’s degree. In the Malawian Higher Education context, this position is reserved for the most outstanding graduates and Prof. Kamwendo was one of them. After completing his Masters and Doctoral studies abroad, Prof. Kamwendo returned to the University of Malawi, where he served as Head of the Department of English. Between 1996-2002, he served as Deputy Director of the Centre for Language Studies. Whilst in Malawi, he also held an adjunct teaching position at Mzuzu University. In 2004 he joined the University of Botswana as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Languages and Social Sciences Education in the Faculty of Education, ultimately serving as Head of Department for two terms of office. In 2007 he was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor. A further promotion in 2010 saw him reach the rank of full Professor of Language Education. From 1 May 2012 to 29 February 2016 he was the Dean and Head of the School of Education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, where he was a strong proponent of curriculum transformation and a major advocate of the University’s Bilingualism Policy. In March 2016 he joined the University of Zululand as the Dean of the Faculty of Arts where he immediately drew upon his immense experience and knowledge to drive the Language Policy of the institution. After his departure from the University of KwaZulu-Natal he was appointed as an Honorary Professor in the School of Education, which position enabled him to facilitate a close working relationship between the two institutions.
A prolific scholar in sociolinguistics and education, Prof. Kamwendo is the author of several scholarly works including 4 books, 28 book chapters and more than 50 peer reviewed articles in journals of high repute such as: Alternation; English Today; International Journal of the Sociology of Language; Journal of Multilingual & Multicultural Development; Language Matters; Language Policy; Language Problems & Language Planning; and others.
In his most recent portfolio as Dean of the University of Zululand’s Faculty of Arts, Prof Kamwendo worked closely with Sahuda and the National Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) on promoting and advancing postgraduate research and scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Pursuant to the objectives of the NIHSS and SAHUDA, Prof. Kamwendo worked tirelessly and with great commitment to improve both the number and quality of doctoral throughout at the University of Zululand, the province of KwaZulu-Natal, and nationally. He was particularly proud of the first cohort of NIHSS students who graduated with their doctoral degrees at the University of Zululand, in May 2018.
Prof Kamwendo’s passing is a great loss to the Humanities. Apart from his academic contributions and commitment to high standards, he was a principled human being and a strong proponent of social justice. His infectious smile, courage and enthusiasm touched all those who interacted with him. We will miss his warmth, kindness and commitment.
Prof. Kamwendo is survived by his wife, his daughter, two sons, a granddaughter, his mother and elder sister.
On behalf of the South African Humanities Deans’ Association and the National Institute of the Humanities and Social Sciences, we hereby convey our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, students, and colleagues. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.
He will be laid to rest in his village in Malawi on Friday the 1st of June 2018. May his soul rest in peace.
Issues by the South African Humanities Deans’ Association and the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences