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Johannesburg, April 29 – Two Indian-origin South Africans have been honoured with the 2023 National Orders for contributing towards the advancement of democracy and making significant impact on improving the lives of people in the country.
Late anti-apartheid veteran Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim and scientist Aboubaker Ebrahim Dangor were presented the award by President Cyril Ramaphosa at an event in Pretoria on Friday.
The annual National Orders are the highest awards that South Africa bestows on its citizens and eminent foreign nationals.
Ebrahim posthumously received The Order of Luthuli, which recognises South African citizens who have contributed to the struggle for democracy, nation-building, building democracy and human rights, justice and peace as well as for the resolution of conflict.
The Order was bestowed in Gold for “Ebrahim’s lifelong commitment to the liberation of all South Africans. He lived by the courage of his conviction and became a formidable opponent to the repressive apartheid government”, a statement from the President’s office said.
A member of the African National Congress (ANC), Ebrahim had spent over 15 years in the Robben Island prison along with Nelson Mandela and Ahmed Kathrada for taking a position against the apartheid government.
Also known as “Ebie”, he was also the former deputy minister of international relations, and passed away after a long illness in December 2021.
He joined the liberation struggle at the age of 13 after his father was arrested twice for defying laws that restricted the movement of Indians in South Africa, and often said how he had been inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha.
His autobiography, “Beyond Fear – Reflections of a Freedom Fighter”, was released by his wife Shannon.
Dangor was awarded The Order of Mapungubwe in Bronze “for his admirable and distinguished contribution to the field of science through his groundbreaking research in physics”, the citation read.
The Order of Mapungubwe recognises South Africans who have accomplished excellence and exceptional achievement to the benefit of South Africa and beyond.
Based in the UK, Dangor could not return to South Africa permanently because the white minority apartheid government denied entry to his wife from Bermuda, who was of Black descent.
“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,” Ramaphosa said at the presentation of the 2023 National Orders.
The National Orders also recognise the contributions made by individuals towards building a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa as envisaged in our Constitution.
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.