On a historic day, South Africa celebrated the 2023 National Orders ceremony, which recognized the contributions of both South African citizens and foreign nationals who dedicated their lives to improving their communities and making the world a better place. President Cyril Ramaphosa presented the awards, emphasizing the significance of the occasion and the recipients’ lasting impact on South Africa’s history.
The Highest Accolades in South Africa
The National Orders are the highest accolades in South Africa, acknowledging individuals who have made significant contributions to democracy, human rights, nation-building, justice, peace, and conflict resolution. The ceremony highlighted South Africa’s participatory honors system, with nominees from across the country being considered for the awards.
A Symbolic Ceremony
The ceremony was symbolic, as President Ramaphosa welcomed President Hage Geingob of Namibia and the President of the Republic of Finland, His Excellency Sauli Niinistö, for a state visit. These meetings emphasized the shared struggles for liberation and the importance of international solidarity in the pursuit of justice and equality.
Honoring Exceptional Achievements
The recipients of the National Orders were honored for their exceptional achievements and selflessness. The Order of Mendi for Bravery recognized South Africans who displayed great courage in trying to help others, with all three of this year’s recipients having lost their lives in the cause of saving others. The Order of Luthuli recognized eminent scholars, liberation fighters, and activists who risked their lives to amplify the voice of the oppressed South African people during apartheid.
The Order of Ikhamanga recognized South Africans who excelled in the arts, culture, literature, music, journalism, and sport. Sporting heroes and heroines were among this year’s recipients, inspiring a whole nation and a new generation. The Order in Gold was also awarded posthumously to Mr. Solomon Popoli Linda, whose music was famous throughout the world, but who never received recognition during his lifetime.
The Order of the Baobab recognized South African citizens for distinguished service in the fields of business and the economy, science, and medicine. The Order of Mapungubwe recognized those who achieved excellence and exceptional achievement for the benefit of South Africa and beyond. This year’s recipients excelled in critical fields such as physics and environmental science.
The Order of the Companions of OR Tambo recognized eminent foreign nationals for the friendship shown to South Africa during apartheid. These recipients used their talents to draw attention to the injustices committed by the regime, ensuring that the world was aware of the atrocities being committed.
In conclusion, President Ramaphosa congratulated all the recipients of the National Orders, acknowledging their significant contributions to South Africa’s history and their lasting impact on the world. The recipients will be honored as esteemed Members of the Orders, ensuring that their deeds and achievements will never be forgotten.