Meet UKZN’s oldest graduate - 74-year-old Dr Pierre Goldie

Pierre Goldie. Picture: UKZN

Pierre Goldie. Picture: UKZN

Published May 13, 2024


A 74-year-old man who was the oldest person to have graduated at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s 2024 Autumn graduation said he drew his inspiration from a deep sense of purpose.

Parish priest Pierre Goldie graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy in Catholic Theology.

Goldie’s academic research involved the investigation into the evolving perception of sacred power among black, urban, isiXhosa-speaking Catholics within the Catholic Archdiocese of Cape Town.

According to Goldie, the research sought to understand the appropriation of Catholicism, and to evaluate its success and challenges within this context.

He examined how perceptions of 'God' have shifted over time, and the implications for religious consciousness.

While the ancestors historically held primary sacred power, 'God' now commands religious consciousness, albeit with continued reverence for ancestors, Pierre’s study revealed.

“The significance of displacing ancestors underscores a fundamental transformation within Catholicism, and Christianity in general. 'God' now offers a closer, more accessible source of sacred power, challenging the distant, intimidating perception of the divine prevalent in African traditions,” he said.

Aware of his own conditioning ‘biases’ and lens which he guarded against in his study, Goldie appreciates the importance of culture and the fact that indigenous people view the world through their own cultural lens.

Goldie said he hopes his study will influence conversations within the Catholic church and academic circles to bridge cultural gaps and rekindle meaningful engagement with African contexts.

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