Nothing wrong with honorary PhDs, something wrong with ‘bought’ doctorate degrees 

There are only three acceptable ways through which one can be called ‘Dr’.  One, through studying medicine; two, through triumphing a doctorate class after three to four years of study; and, lastly, being honored by a reputable university for immense personal achievements.

Ben Phiri received a doctorate degree from US-based Cypress International Institute (CII)

So you can be Dr Adamson Muula because you have a medical degree; Dr Danwood Mzikenge Chirwa because, after your master’s degree, you enrolled for a doctorate degree and triumphed;  Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima because after a bachelor’s and master’s degree in economics from the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College he successfully defending his doctorate degree with the University of Bolton in the United Kingdom (UK), Dr Ethel Kamwendo Banda her  music contribution or Dr Bakili Muluzi for outstanding work of championing and entrenching democracy.

So, if you call yourself a ‘Dr’ and you can hardly explain where, among the aforementioned three variables, you fit then you are fraud—you must be arrested.

In fact, the debate that Professor Chirwa started on social media principally aims at exposing and shaming people who cannot, convincingly and honestly, explain how their salutation changed from ‘Mr’ to ‘Dr’.

I do, of course, understand the merits of this debate. There has been an escalation of wayward colleges that are, actually, selling PhDs to those that salivate for them. These are colleges that turn people, in a flash, from being saluted as ‘Mr’ in the morning to ‘Dr’ in the afternoon.

However, in the raging debate of naming and shaming the riffraff that stagger around with bought PhDs, I have noted a condescending mistake coming from overzealous quarters extending their condemnation even to people with honorary doctorate degrees.

Let’s face it; there is always a possessive feeling among academics in these reputable universities to own and protect PhDs as if it only belongs to them.

Of course, you can always understand them because their PhDs are products of years of exhausting research work and study.

However, I believe they can defend the integrity of their hard-won PhDs without suppressing the undeniable truth that one can also get a PhD through honorary means.

Honorary doctorate degrees are real and they should not be trivialized and suppressed. In fact, most people who earn honorary doctorate degrees do more to society than those with so called hard-won degrees.

That is why; in naming and shaming those who stagger around with bought PhDs – such as ‘Professor’ Getrude Mutharika, ‘Dr’ Jean Mathana, ‘Dr’ Ben Phiri,  ‘Dr’ Ken Zikhale N’goma   – we should sober up and accept that honorary degrees are not fake.

Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :

Sharing is caring!

Follow us in Twitter
33 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mangochi Kabwafu
Mangochi Kabwafu
10 months ago

These honorary Doctorates are mainly given to Africans so they can feel and look EDUCATED. Just look at the way they use them compared to others.

Flamingo
Flamingo
10 months ago

If it is an Honorary, you dont need to be addressed as Dr…
Its reserved for those who have earned it in academia
But in Malawi they brag about an honourary

Bawo
Bawo
10 months ago

Another dimension to this topic is how to address holders of Doctorate degrees as given in the book titled “The Protocol School of Washington’s HONOR & RESPECT: THE OFFICIAL GUIDE TO NAMES, TITLES AND FORMS OF ADDRESS”. It is available online for sale. The Protocol School advises, among other things: “Holder of Doctorates who work in academia or research institutions use Dr. (name) professionally and socially. Thus, a PhD in Biology doing research at the local university or lab probably uses Dr. and everybody thins it’s right. Holders of academic Doctorates who work outside academia or research typically do not… Read more »

Ngombwax
Ngombwax
10 months ago
Reply to  Bawo

Exactly! Only granting institutions can address a recipient of an honorary doctorate as a “Dr”. It’s extremely presumptuous for such a recipient to address himself/herself as “Dr”. As for third parties, well, umakhala umbuli-mbuli chabe.

Many years ago, I was shown a private letter by Bakili where he signed off as “Dr. Bakili Muluzi”. But then, it is widely accepted that the crook ndi muburuti.

Kapoli
Kapoli
10 months ago
Reply to  Ngombwax

Ha!ha!ha! Bakili Muluzi even appended the title Dr to his signature on a dummy cheque he was presenting to the Minister of Sports ( then Henderson Mabeti ) when Atcheya was sponsoring Bullets FC. Check file footage at “Daily Times ” or “Nation”. I nearly fainted with laughter that day.

By-stander
By-stander
10 months ago
Reply to  Bawo

Zoonadi, Bawo. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has a PhD in history from the University of Edinburgh. Did anybody ever call him Dr Brown? He would only be called Dr Brown if he went into academia. Barack Obama is a professor of law. Ever heard anybody call him Professor Obama? He’d be addressed as Prof if he went back to his alma mater ( Harvard ) to teach.

Guest
Guest
10 months ago
Reply to  Bawo

Very well presented. All else is misleading the public.

Tiyamike
Tiyamike
10 months ago
Reply to  Bawo

Further, I also think it may not be correct to use the title Dr. to refer to Ujeni who holds a first degree in medicine. In this case, Ujeni ndi medical doctor (not PhD or other relevant doctorate holder). Dr. is a title for doctorate degree e.g. PhD

Kapoli
Kapoli
10 months ago
Reply to  Tiyamike

You are WRONG @Tiyamike. “Dr ” is a title associated with medicine. It is the world of academia in general that usurped the title to give it to persons who have obtained a post-Master’s degree qualification. In France, for, instance, one who has an equivalent of a PhD is never called “Medicin” ( doctor ). Ask Dr Perks Ligoya. He obtained his equivalent of a PhD in Economics from France. Frenchmen would be surprised to learn that he is called Dr when he has never studied medicine. To the average person in the US or UK, a Dr is a… Read more »

President Chisokonezo
President Chisokonezo
10 months ago

But doctorate is for those working at research Station or University. Straetic managers do not need that rubbish called doctorate. How many leaders in developed countries with doctorates? Or how many successful CEOs with doctorates?

Mwini muzi
10 months ago

@President, we have many of them working in companies. Example:Jack Welsh once a CEO of General Electric had a PhD which he studied for although he never wanted to be addressed as Dr Jack Welsh.

Guest
Guest
10 months ago

Dr. Angela Merkel, the leader of Germany. She has a PhD in quantum chemistry. Her husband also holds a PhD and is still conducting research at some university.

ADA
ADA
10 months ago

I agree with late Dr. Hastings Banda that in our society we leave with educated savages.

Mpakateni
10 months ago

Fiko you are defending the indefensible. Honourary degrees may not be fake, but take it that they are useless. How many times did the Nigerian Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wole Soyinka declined to be awarded such degrees? How many times did Robert Mugabe reject such degrees? Although institutions persuaded Mandela to accept the honour, have you ever heard him being saluted as Dr. Nelson Mandela? Why should our people all of a sudden been making noise about the useless honourary degrees? You can tell that those people with lust for such a title attach greater importance to the title than… Read more »

Omwami Mangoche
Omwami Mangoche
10 months ago
Reply to  Mpakateni

Honorary degrees are just that. You can not call the recipient DR. We just show how backwards we are by flaunting honorary degrees as if we worked for them. These day it’s hard to know who is real and who is not. It has just become like mfunda

CITIZEN
CITIZEN
10 months ago
Reply to  Mpakateni

Thank you Mpakateni for the clear explanation and good examples of both African and European leaders who do not tolerate this nonsense. I think this whole obsession with honorary or purchased degrees puts Malawi very high on the level of stupidity and a laughing stock. I am more interested in the presidents who have had these degrees, namely Bakili Muluzi, Joyce Banda and Bingu Mutharika. Bakili and Joyce bought their degrees to match their predecessors in the misplaced belief that they would be more respected if they get addressed as ‘Dr’, while I believe Bingu was not satisfied to be… Read more »

The Dangerous Protocol.
The Dangerous Protocol.
10 months ago
Reply to  Mpakateni

And Mpakateni, you will be surprised to see that the honorary doctorate and or PhD, Malawians are given jobs and or Ministerial which i believe is what Danwood is talking about! Honorary doctorate should not be used to take over Jobs from those who can do the job because they went to school to do that than someone who has that useless honorary doctorate because he is connected to Politics! I remember if my memory is not cheating me, President Lazarus Chakwera,once said, I am Lazarus Chakwera! People started calling him Professor Lazarus Chakwera! Now we are forced to call… Read more »

Royal Jelly
Royal Jelly
10 months ago
Reply to  Mpakateni

Mpakateni, I agree with you 101%. Actually Gertrude Mutharika needs to be stripped of all her titles. She has proven to be a disgrace to our nation. Mzuzu, as you have rightly observed, is a heap of garbage and yet she was running Beautify Malawi. She just used BEAM to enrich herself. Please let us ‘un-Dr’ and ‘unprofessor’ her!

Edu savvy
Edu savvy
10 months ago

Mike fiko if you don’t have PhD, come enroll with us, we are university of Oxford at Malawi situated behind the main mosque. You will join our fast track programme and will be at liberty to graduate with the coming cohort. To ensure we are seen to be demonstrating quality, you will have to defend your thesis in Tete, Mozambique if not UK. Or do you have any alternative place in mind? We can even award you the paper the same day you enroll. Might cost you £19,000 only we accept instalments.

Chinamwali Boy
Chinamwali Boy
10 months ago

Yes honorary PhDs are not fake but they are jot meant to be used publicly. Nelson Mandera had a zillion of PhDs but he never used Dr. There are so many examples I can give to buttress my point. The bottom line is that there is no Dr Bakili Muluzi but rather we have Mr Bakili Muluzi just like we have no Professor Gertrude Mutharika but rather we have Mrs Gertrude Mutharika. The government should bar people with honorary PhDs from using the Dr title. It is as simple as that.

Kanyimbi Senior
10 months ago

Kkkkk anthu okuba awa asiyeni ndalama zonse athela kumangila manyumba azidina agumuka pompano

Chilima game yagona
Chilima game yagona
10 months ago

Ya Dr reforms khala ngati ndi yapawindo, dude never attended classes fellow students were surprised to see him graduating. MIM ma shortcut too much

shares
Read previous post:
CSO calls for Malawi presidential jet sale probe: Cdedi against selective justice

A civil rights group Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (Cdedi) has called for a probe into the sale of...

Close