Back to doctors... Yes, Doctor is a title that does carry with it a high degree of respect and prestige. Usually it means that you've done a hell of a lot of studying, taken insanely difficult exams, researched, researched, researched, and paid some university a ton of money (or have a heavy load of loans hanging over your head). For others (like the one on the billboard in the photo above), it simply means waking up one morning and thinking: Gee, I think I'll be a Dr. today.
It seems like being a Dr. is all the rage these days. At the same time that billboard was prominently displayed around the city, there were some bright orange signs posted on lamp posts advertising some event that was being sponsored by Dr. Sudhir Ruparellia. Dr. Sudhir? (Confusion on my part.) I missed something somewhere, so I asked a friend (who keeps himself more abreast with developments in Ugandan pop culture than I do) for some clarification, and he informed me that, yes, Sudhir had been awarded an honorary doctorate from some university out West. That some university out West happens to be the Uganda Pentecostal University in Fort Portal, one that has a history going all the way back to 2003.
The confusion I experienced is not an uncommon phenomenon that occurs where someone who has been awarded an honorary degree and decides to use the title Dr. I'm not going to break into a discussion of ethics on that issue (it is generally accepted as okay in several places), but I do agree that it causes an amount of confusion as to a person's actual qualifications.
And being awarded an honorary doctorate (which is usually done to recognise someone's significant contributions to a specific area of study or society at large—Sudhir received his degree because of his outstanding business services in Uganda, his investment in education and the promotion of multiculturalism) places Dr. Sudhir in an exclusive group of world citizens that include...
Kermit the Frog,
who was awarded his Doctorate in Amphibious Letters from the Southampton College in 1996. Among Kermit's contributions to society is teaching us all that it's not easy being green.
Ms. Dolly Parton was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Humane and Musical Letters by the University of Tennessee Knoxville in May 2009 . Dolly's contributions to society include starting the Dollywood Foundation that has distributed over 20 million books in the US, Canada and UK, awarding financial assistance to students from her local community for over 30 years, and raising over $1,000,000 to build healthcare facilities in her home county. For her philanthropy, Dolly has been recognised with the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service from the Smithsonian Institution. Oh, and then there's the entertainment. The woman has has composed over 3000 songs, stared in classic films like 9 to 5 and Steel Magnolia. She's already been awarded the Kennedy Center Honors, the National Medal of Arts, the Living Legend award from the Library of Congress, membership in the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry, seven Grammy Awards, 10 Country Music Association Awards and been nominated for two Oscars.
That's Dr. Dolly, y'all!