Source: The Presidency
Title: SA: Zuma: Address by the President of South Africa, at the National Awards ceremony, Pretoria
Deputy President of the Republic, Mr Kgalema Motlanthe,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Chancellor of the National Orders, Distinguished recipients of the National Orders and their families,
Fellow South Africans,
I am honoured and privileged to welcome you to this momentous occasion, the award of National Orders.
We are holding the National Orders ceremony for the first time on Freedom Day. We chose this day to hold this ceremony each year, because it is the most appropriate day on our nation's calendar.
It is the perfect day to reward achievement, excellence, sacrifice, patriotism and dedication to this country by many outstanding South Africans.
No day would also be more suitable to recognize and pay tribute to friends of this country who have supported South Africa and its people, against all odds.
The 27th of April marks the day on which together we buried apartheid and entered an era of freedom, justice and non-racialism, and began to work for national reconciliation.
On this day all South Africans became free, both black and white. Our white compatriots entered an era of personal freedom.
From this day in 1994, they could travel anywhere in the world without being accused of oppressing their black compatriots.
For black South Africans, it meant they are now full citizens in the country of their birth, enjoying the right to human dignity and all rights that human beings should be entitled to, in modern democracies and societies.
This is also a day on which we proved to the world that we were a unique nation. We demonstrated that we are capable of rising above the most humane system of apartheid to build a country that belongs to all.
Given the immense importance of this day in our lives, all South Africans remember where they were on 27 April 1994.
Many of us stood in long queues for many hours, waiting to vote for the first time. We stood in line because we believed in freedom, equality for all, peace and justice.
Those ideals personify the National Orders. The Orders acknowledge the highest ideals that South Africans continue to strive for, in building a democratic and prosperous South Africa.
The National Orders recognise that it is the collective efforts of all in our country, and also beyond our borders that contributed to the South Africa we live in.
They embody the spirit of excellence that is necessary for our country to advance and prosper. We therefore together congratulate the recipients this evening.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Order of Mendi for Bravery recognises those citizens who have valued the lives of others before their own.
Among tonight's recipients are people who continuously placed their lives at risk, so that we may today enjoy the right to life, to dignity, and to equality.
In the Order of Mendi for Bravery we honour Harry Themba Gwala, the Lion of the Midlands who fought for freedom tirelessly and with everything at his disposal, until the end of his days.
We recognize the gallant fighter against colonialism Kgosi Galeshewe and the G5 Mkhonto Wesizwe unit that defended the people of Soweto against apartheid police brutality.
We honour two outstanding national heroines who fought for freedom Makhosi Nyoka and Portia Ndwandwe.
Tonight we also honour those who have excelled through their talent and creativity.
The Order of Ikhamanga recognises South Africans who have excelled in the fields of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sport.
We take our hats off to people's musicians Jonas Gwangwa and Hugh Masekela, who used music as an instrument of fighting for freedom.
We also marvel at the achievements of Ernst van Dyk. Born without legs, he went on to become an avid sportsman and Paralympics champion.
We recognise Grant Khomo, an excellent sports administrator who proved to the world that black people could also excel in rugby.
I am sure that all South Africans know Nothembi Mkhwebane, for her colourful attire and musical prowess, and also for promoting the music of the amaNdebele people all over the world. We honour her for promoting our cultural diversity.
This year when we are to host the first ever African World Cup, it is correct that we honour the Makana Football Association, for contribution to the field of soccer in the face of overwhelming odds on Robben Island.
As a former referee in this association, I can be forgiven for being so excited about this award!
In the same category of Ikhamanga, we honour the outstanding actor Winston Ntshona, who used the stage to expose life under apartheid to the world.
This evening we also recall the late City Press editor Percy Qoboza, one of those who used journalism as an instrument of fighting apartheid.
Through the Order of the Baobab, we recognise South Africans who have contributed to community service, business, economy, science, medicine and technological innovation.
We also honour selfless South Africans who derive fulfillment from improving the lives of others.
We recognize James Mata Dwane, for his contribution in the formation of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and his passion for the education of Africans.
We honour mama Susan Luthuli who has dedicated her life to the support of orphans and vulnerable children.
We thank Malefu Mphathane for her contribution to the education and upliftment of her community in the field of education.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dr Imtiaz Sooliman and his organization, the Gift of the Givers are always among the first to respond in the event of disasters in the country and abroad, to provide relief to the hungry and destitute.
They epitomize the selflessness that we want to be known for as a nation, and we congratulate them for their award.
When we talk of working together to do more for our country, we must think of Vincent Naidoo, the national hero who lost his life fighting against crime in Mitchells Plein in Cape Town.
May the actions of all these recipients plant in all of us the seed of service to others!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Order of Luthuli recognises those who have contributed to the struggle for democracy, nation-building, human rights, justice, peace and the resolution of conflict.
In this category, we remember the outstanding trade unionist and incisive analyst, Stephen Dlamini, whose ideas laid the basis for progressive trade unionism in our country.
Let us celebrate Sonia Bunting, whose life reminds us of one of those unique attributes of our country, of South Africans, black and white, fighting for freedom together.
In the same category we have Dorothy Cleminshaw who fought for civil rights and liberties.
The outstanding and brave patriot, Nongolozi Jameson Mgomezulu, died a gruesome death in the hands of captors when he refused to reveal information about freedom fighters in the Ingwavuma area.
Through his sharp mind and pen, Jabulani Nobleman "Mzala" Nxumalo left a legacy of intellectualism, writing about the revolutionary process in the country at the time.
James Randolph Vigne put his young family at risk by being the founder member of the African Resistance Movement, which launched a sabotage campaign between 1961 and 1964, against the apartheid government.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Order of Mapungubwe recognises South Africans who have accomplished excellence and exceptional achievement to the benefit of South Africa and beyond.
Tonight we honour those who have excelled in the field of science.
These South Africans have achieved national and international recognition for their work.
We honour Douglas Stuart Butterworth for contribution to the environment and sustainable fisheries, Prof Johann R.E Lutjeharms for excellence in oceanographic science and Monique Zaahl for excellence in the field of genetics and research into disorders from iron overload.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We were not alone in our struggle to be free. At every moment, we were joined by men and women of outstanding integrity and humanity, from all over the world.
It is to these people that we dedicate the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo.
We are humbled to extend the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo to President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos of the Republic of Angola.
Angola became our home during the most difficult years of our struggle. We established lasting friendship, comradeship and solidarity between our two countries and peoples.
President dos Santos will receive the award when he visits South Africa on a State visit later this year.
We honour Jacques Rogge who, through the International Olympic Committee, turned the world of Olympics against apartheid South Africa.
In July this year, we will have the opportunity to bestow this prestigious Order on a friend of South Africa, Joseph Sepp Blatter, for his outstanding leadership of world football, and his support of our country in hosting the greatest soccer spectacle of all times, the FIFA Soccer World Cup.
We will also at the same time honour CAF President, Issa Hayatou, for his excellent contribution to the development of African Football.
Other highly deserving companions of OR Tambo are Vernon Berrange and Joel Joffe, members of the Rivonia Trial defence team. They led the fight against apartheid in the courts and exposed the injustices to the world.
We also felt it proper to recognise George Houser, who was at the forefront of the civil rights and the Solidarity Movement in the United States in the liberation of African people.
As we invest in skills development in our country, we extend our gratitude to Herbert Kaiser and Joy Kaiser. They created opportunities for medical education for Black South Africans and supported the medical education of nearly 3 000 black midwives, nurses, technicians, physiotherapists, optometrists, pharmacists, dentists, and physicians.
Given the illustrious list of recipients, our country has truly achieved so much because of the work of the contribution of such outstanding patriots and international friends.
So tonight is a night of celebration. Tonight we tell the rest of the world that a new democratic and free South Africa is being built every day.
Tonight we honour those who have inspired us in this quest for a South Africa that belongs to all who live in it.
Yesterday's heroes and heroines have given birth to a new nation.
And today we live the dream of those who have dedicated their lives to a better South Africa.
As we honour these heroes and heroines, let us reaffirm our determination that working together we will achieve a new tomorrow not just for our people, but for all humanity.
Under the powers vested in me by Section 84 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1996,
I now confer the Order of Mendi for Bravery, the Order of Ikhamanga, the Order of the Baobab, the Order of Luthuli, the Order of Mapungubwe and the Order of the Companions of O R Tambo to these outstanding men and women.
The recipients shall henceforth be honoured as esteemed Members of the Orders, and the people of South Africa salute them all!
Happy Freedom Day!
I thank you.