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A deceased tribal chief was among 47 diplomats, activists, trade
unionists and other people honoured in Pretoria yesterday for their
contribution to South Africa's well-being.
Big names abounded at the national orders investiture ceremony at
the Union Buildings, but perhaps the loudest cheers were reserved
for the long dead chief Frans Rasimphi Tshivhase.
Women ululated, danced and chanted "Phiriphiri" (Tshivhase's
nickname) when his representatives were called to receive the Order
of Luthuli, in bronze, on his behalf.
Born in 1900, Tshivhase reigned as paramount chief of the Tshivhase
people from 1930 until his death in 1952. He has been credited with
frustrating attempts to dispossess his people of their land, and
was honoured on Wednesday for his contribution to the struggle for
a free, just and democratic South Africa.
In a nearly three-hour ceremony, President Thabo Mbeki presented
nine South Africans with the Order of the Baobab for exceptional
service rendered to their fellow countrymen, and 16 with the Order
of Luthuli for contributing to the attainment of a free and
Twenty-two people were awarded the Order of the Companions of OR
Tambo - the highest decoration South Africa bestows on
Order of the Baobab recipients included Mirriam Cele, who has
devoted her adult life to providing homes for abused, abandoned and
Aids orphans, and social worker Cabangukuhle Zulu, who helped black
veterans of World War II get welfare and pension payouts.
Also on the list were Independent Electoral Commission chairwoman
Brigalia Bam, for her contribution to the upliftment of women and
democracy, and reverend turned politician Allan Hendrickse for his
part in the struggle for democracy.
Among those who received the Order of Luthuli were anti-apartheid
activists like Amina Cachalia, Hilda Bernstein, Laloo Chiba,
Mapetla Mohapi, Josie Mpama, Billy Nair, and Rita Ndzanga.
Also honoured under this category were former Intelligence Minister
Joe Nhlanhla, the late Safety and Security Minister Steve Tshwete,
and the ANC's former chief representative in the United Kingdom and
West Europe Reginald September.
Foreigners honoured -- most of them in their absence -- included
United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, the late American
civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, the first prime minister
of the Democratic Republic of Congo Patrice Lumumba, former
Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere and former secretary-general of
the Organisation of African Unity, Salim Ahmed Salim.
Mbeki said the recipients of the orders stood out as beacons to
guide the rest of the nation on its journey to freedom, justice and
"Regardless of the long road we have to travel to translate this
vision into reality, the people of South Africa are convinced that
they must walk along the only highway in their universe on whose
paved stones the words are engraved -- we are one people, despite