President Cyril Ramaphosa says this year’s National Orders represent the determination of humankind to rise above adversity, to persevere and to strive in pursuit of a better life and a better world.
The President was speaking at the first full National Orders investiture ceremony since 2019 without COVID-19 restrictions at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria recently.
The National Orders are the highest awards that a country, through its President, bestows on its citizens and foreign nationals.
“It is my honour and privilege to once more present and bestow South Africa’s highest accolades, the National Orders. Today, we honour South Africans and foreign nationals who put themselves at the service of their country and its people.
“They have emerged from a process that involved the receipt of nominations from across the length and breadth of the country, reflective of the broadly participatory nature of our honours system,” the President says.
President Ramaphosa added that in different ways and different contexts the men and women honoured all contributed towards the freedom that South Africans enjoy today.
“They did what they did; said what they said; and acted the way they did not for prestige or fame, nor for recognition or reward, but because it was the right thing to do. In doing the right thing, their actions had a lasting and enduring impact and live on long after them.
“Those who are receiving National Orders embody the founding values of the South African Republic; namely the achievement of equality, the advancement of human rights and freedoms, and perhaps most importantly of all, human dignity,” the President adds.
Conferring of National Orders
He conferred the Order of Mendi for Bravery, the Order of Ikhamanga, the Order of the Baobab, the Order of Luthuli and the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo.
Conferring the Order of Mendi for Bravery, the President explained that the award is bestowed on South Africans who displayed great courage in trying to help others.
“All three of this year’s recipients of the Order of Mendi for Bravery lost their lives in the cause of saving others. There can be no greater sacrifice.”
Conferring the Order of Ikhamanga, the President said the award recognises South Africans who have excelled in the arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sport.
“We are proud to count amongst this year’s recipients one of our sporting heroes and heroines that I was honoured to welcome here at the Union Buildings. Your victories have inspired a whole nation and a new generation.
“I would like to single out for particular mention the awarding of the Order in Gold posthumously to Mr. Solomon Popoli Linda. Even though his music was famous throughout the world, he never received his dues in his lifetime. As the democratic government it is our humble wish that this honour will restore the dignity of Mr. Linda and give comfort to his descendants.”
He also conferred the Order of Luthuli, which is awarded to South Africans who have contributed to the struggle for democracy, human rights, nation-building, justice and peace, as well as for the resolution of conflict.
This year’s recipients included eminent scholars, liberation fighters and activists who risked arrest, banishment, exile and even death to amplify the voice of the oppressed South African people on the world stage in the dark days of apartheid.
The Order of the Baobab is awarded to South African citizens for distinguished service in the fields of business and the economy, science and medicine.
The President said recognising these important contributions to the national life of the country inspires the younger generation to follow in their footsteps.
Conferring the Order of Mapungubwe, he added that this Order recognises South Africans who have achieved excellence and exceptional achievement for the benefit of South Africa and beyond.
According to President Ramaphosa, this year’s recipients have excelled in the critical fields of physics as well as environmental science.
Speaking on the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo, President Ramaphosa said that it recognises eminent foreign nationals for friendship shown to South Africa.
“We salute this year’s recipients, some of whom are no longer with us, for using their talents to draw attention to the great injustice that was apartheid.”
One of the patrons that was conferred this highest award in South Africa is Springbok Captain Siyamthanda ‘Siya’ Kolisi for his inspirational leadership and contribution to rugby.
Kolisi, who is currently injured, was conferred with the Order of Ikhamanga in Gold.
Kolisi’s wife, Rachel Kolisi says that she is proud of her husband who has been fully committed to his career and supporting different sport disciplines in the country.
“He is incredibly South African, passionate and loves our country so much. Today he is receiving the award but ultimately he is nothing without his team, his coach and everyone that has come alongside him in this process,” Rachel said.
She highlighted that her husband was elated and honoured to receive the highest award in the country.
“He is a humble human being who never does anything for accolades or awards, he does so because he believes it is his calling and passion. He just wants to continue to shine his spotlight onto South Africa and be a good ambassador for the country,” she said.