South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has awarded this year’s 2018 National Orders to local and foreign citizens including Liberia’s retired leader Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf at a well-attended ceremony held at his presidential guesthouse in Pretoria.During the ceremony on Saturday, Ramaphosa conferred the Order of Ikhamanga, the Order of the Baobab, the Order of Luthuli, and the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo to the deserving South Africans and foreign nationals for their distinguished careers in life.
Some 40 heroes, including retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, actress Lillian Dube and former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, made the list.
Speaking at the ceremony, Ramaphosa said the national orders recognised the many outstanding individuals who defied great odds to make an immense contribution in various spheres of life.
“Our freedom opened windows of opportunity for many to chase their dreams, to excel, to succeed and, in so doing, to inspire others to reach beyond what they imagined possible.
“We dedicate this year’s ceremony to the memory of former president Nelson Mandela who, more than any other, embodied the spirit and the intent of these orders,” the president said.
Speaking of the Order of Ikhamanga, which is awarded to South Africans who have excelled in the field of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sports, Ramaphosa said the honours were bestowed on some of the country’s most dedicated and outstanding athletes, musicians, artists and performers.
He added: “We honour people who have chronicled both the suffering of our people and their remarkable triumphs, their fears and their hopes, their everyday cares and their timeless desires.”
“We pay tribute to those who have faced adversity, who have conquered doubt, who have used the exceptional gifts that they have been given, not for their own glory, but to celebrate the splendour of human endeavour,” he said.
Ramaphosa said the Order of the Baobab was awarded to South African citizens for distinguished service in the fields of business and the economy, science, medicine, and for technological innovation and community service.