Zuma awards National Orders

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has bestowed National Orders, the highest award in the country, on 29 South African and foreign nationals at a ceremony at the Union Buildings.

Among those honoured were the late singer Miriam Makeba, long jump silver medalist Kgotso Mokoena and Reverend Mangena Maake Mokone.

The National Orders are bestowed on individuals that have contributed to the country's attainment and building of democracy and human rights as well as those who contribute to a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.

The President said South Africa would continue to recognise and honor local and international individuals who had sacrificed their lives in liberating the country.

"We will also continue to celebrate those South Africans who excel in various fields and enable us to walk tall amongst other nations, knowing that we also have the best there can ever be, when it comes to talent and expertise."

Makeba, who died last year after suffering a heart attack while taking part in a concert in Italy, was honoured with the Order of Ikhamanga in gold for her exceptional contribution to the music field and the struggle for a free and democratic South Africa.

The order is awarded to South Africans who have excelled in the fields of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sport.

The same order in bronze was bestowed on long jump silver medalist Kgotso Mokoena in recognition of his good work as a sports ambassador and for inspiring the country.

The highest order, the Order of Mapungubwe, which is awarded to South African citizens for excellence and exceptional achievement, was awarded to three individuals in silver namely Professor Hendrik J Koornhof, Professor Johan Lutjeharms and Professor Bongani Mayosi.

The Order of the Baobab, which is awarded for distinguished service which is above and beyond the ordinary call of duty as well as exceptional and distinguished contributions in business and the economy, science, medicine and technological innovation and community service.

This order in gold was awarded posthumously to Reverend Mangena Maake Mokone in honour and recognition of his pioneering spirit in the formation of the African Ethiopian Movement.

The Order of the Companions of OR Tambo, which is awarded to foreign nationals, was bestowed in silver to Anna Abdallah in recognition of her sterling contributions in fostering friendship and co-operation between Tanzanians and South Africans during the days of exile.

The Order of Luthuli, received by South Africans who have made a meaningful contribution to the struggle for democracy, human rights, nation-building, justice and peace, and conflict resolution, was awarded posthumously to James Sofasonke Mpanza for his contribution to the struggle for socio-economic rights and fighting for justice and restoration of the dignity of black people in urban settlements.

President Zuma said National Orders told the South African story in a tapestry of occurrences and events that changed the course of history. They outlined the achievements of remarkable men and women, undertaken in pursuit of causes that changed our lives, and made our country the success that it has become.

"They tell the story of our proficiency in sports, the arts, medicine, science and technology," Zuma said at the event honoring individuals from various fraternities.

The President said South Africa must be known as a nation that recognises distinction and excellence, adding that the National Orders event take the county to that direction.

He said the National Orders ceremony would from next year take place on Freedom Day, which is commemorated on 27 April. Freedom Day is dedicated to remembering national heroes, the founding fathers and mothers of freedom and democracy.