Former African National Congress, South African Communist Party and Natal Indian Congress stalwart Swaminathan Gounden was honoured with the Order of Luthuli (Silver) this weekend in Pretoria.
Gounden is recognised for his courage and conviction in the fight for equality during the struggle period of apartheid and was presented the honours by South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Gounden, who is among the handful of surviving Freedom Charter veterans, spoke about the Charter and the Congress of the People Conference on 26 June, 1955 in Kliptown, Soweto.
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‘In the years preceding the Freedom Charter our people experienced repression in the fields of education, housing, culture, land, human rights, pass laws, the Group Areas Act, the Slums Act and many other discriminations imposed by the apartheid government, ’ said Gounden.
The purpose of the Congress of the People was to mobilise South Africans and make them ‘go on the offensive against reactionary forces at work in our country instead of being on the defensive’.
Speaking at the 1018 National Orders awards ceremony in Tshwane‚ Ramaphosa said the country owed “a great deal to the devout support” of the international community for its freedom.
“Many countries offered solidarity and opened their arms to our activists.
“Many people in our neighbouring countries lost life and limb for our cause‚” he said.
At the ceremony‚ the Order of the Companions of Oliver Tambo in Gold was bestowed on four former heads of state – former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano‚ the former president of Namibia‚ Sam Nujoma‚ former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and the late Sir Ketumile Masire of Botswana.
“We also honour those remarkable human beings who stood alongside our people‚ at home and in exile‚ who provided material and other assistance to our students‚ activists and combatants.
“In doing so‚ we express our sincere and eternal gratitude to them for joining a struggle that was not their’s‚ in a land far from their own‚ and for giving so much‚ for so long‚ to so many‚” Ramaphosa said.
The following South Africans and foreign nationals will receive the following orders:
The Order of Ikhamanga which recognises South African citizens who have excelled in the fields of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sport will be bestowed on:
Journalist Traci Mackie
Athlete Elsa Meyer
Cricket player Hashim Amla
Artist and Historian Omar Badsha
Boxer Eric Rishimati Baloyi
Musician Johan Botha (posthumously)
Actress Lillian Dube
Musician Hotstix Mabuse
Athlete Elana Meyer
Artist John Koenakeefe Motlhankana (posthumously)
Artist Thami Mnyele (posthumously)
Actress Advocate Nakedi Ribane
Rugby player Johan Smit
Soccer player Neil Tovey
The Order of Baobab which recognises distinguished service in the areas of community service, business and economy, science, medicine and technological innovation will be bestowed on:
Businessman Maduke Lot Ndlovu (posthumous)
Activist Nkosinathi Freddy Ndlovu
Activist Violet Seboni
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 will be bestowed on the following recipients:
Anti-apartheid activist Ronald Bernickow (posthumously)
Anti-apartheid activist Sylvia Benjamin (posthumously)
Anti-apartheid activist Godfrey Beck
Anti-apartheid activist Lillian Diedericks
Political activist Mary Fitzgerald (posthumously)
Writer and political activist Farid Essack
Anti-apartheid activist Swaminathan Gounden
Anti-apartheid activist Reverend Charles Hooper (posthumously)
Anti-apartheid activist Sibongile Mkhabela
Major General Keith Mokoape
Anti-apartheid activist Rahima Moosa (posthumously)
General Moreti motau
Anti-apartheid activist Zondeni Sobukwe
Inkosi Mhlabunzima Maphumulo (posthumously)
Anti-apartheid activist Mama Dora Tamana (posthumously)
The Order of the Companions of OR Tambo which recognises friendship shown to South Africa by foreign dignitaries or heads of state and other eminent foreign persons for friendship to South Africa will be bestowed on:
Activist Rosita Johnson
Ambassador Alexander Sergeevich Dsasokhov
Russian parliamentarian Vyacheslav Tetekin
Former president of Mozambique Joaquim Chissano
Former president of Botswana Sir Ketumile Masire
Former president of Namibia Dr Samuel Daniel Nujoma
President Cyril Ramaphosa will bestow the Orders at the 24th Investiture ceremony scheduled to take place on 28 April 2018 in Pretoria.