The Cultural National Order Honourees for 2016
Towards the end of April, President Jacob Zuma honoured South African citizens who have, through their work and contributions in their respective fields, had a positive impact on the country. Each year, the president of the Republic, assisted by the director general in the presidency, hands out these honours at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House in Tshwane.
The Order of Ikhamanga honours excellence in arts, culture, sport, journalism, literature and music. It is awarded in gold, silver and bronze. Past recipients of the Order of Ikhamanga include Steve Mokone, Athol Fugard, Johnny Clegg, Ingrid Jonker, John Kani, Irvin Khoza, Kaizer Motaung and Can Themba.
In 2016, the honour falls on the following individuals who have excelled in the past, bringing glory to both their disciples and the country.
Order Bestowed in Gold on:
Benedict Wallet Vilakazi, Author and poet
Vilakazi died in 1947. By that time, he had authored novels, poetry collections and collaborated on and English-isiZulu dictionary with his Wits University colleague, CM Doke. His published works were among a few isiZulu books to handle modern subject matter. His job at Wits made him the first black person to teach white South African students at university level. In 1946 he became the first black South African to earn a doctorate.
Vilakazi street in Orlando, Soweto is named for him.
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, Mathematician and educator
In 2011, Professor Phakeng received the NSTF award for “the most outstanding senior black female researcher in a five-year period,” which recognised her pioneering research on teaching and learning mathematics in multilingual classrooms. She is a professor and vice-principal of Research and Innovation at Unisa, she was a honorary professor of mathematics at Wits University.
Order Bestowed in Silver On:
Thomas Hasani Chauke, Singer/songwriter
An honorary recipient of a doctorate in African languages from the University of Venda for his work, Chauke is Xitsonga music’s most prominent figure. He has been working in music for over 40 years. His music has brought Xitsonga music traditions and the language to prominent and mainstream attention in the country. He has won 12 South African Music Awards and continues to be a prominent figure as the music evolves to genres like Shangaan electro.
He is honoured for promoting preserving an indigenous language.
Marguerite Poland, Author
Poland is an author who has works published in in the genres of fiction and non-fiction and has authored children’s books. She has spent her career promoting literature in indigenous languages and literacy. Her books are read widely in schools across the country.
Sylvia Glasser, Cultural activist and dance instructor
Glasser has been teaching dance since the early 1970s. She opened Johannesburg’s first multi-racial contemporary dance school in 1978 . A large chunk of her studio’s work happened at the height of institutionalised racial segregation, which criminalised the activities happening in her studio. These days she is lovingly called “Magogo” by her students, whose pursuit of their passions at her studio ceased being a criminal act 22 years ago. She is honoured for her dedication to passing on skills to students from diverse cultural and racial backgrounds and for pushing for integration during apartheid.
Order Bestowed in Bronze on
Laurika Rauch, Singer/songwriter
Rauch is a singer and songwriter who performs in both English and Afrikaans. During the apartheid regime, Rauch used her music to speak out against the harsh and unjust rule of the day, its enforcers and speak up on behalf of the oppressed.
A special Order of Luthuli recipient
Special mention goes to mam’ Winnie Madikizela-Mandela who received the Order of Luthuli, which was named for Chief Albert Sisulu who was an anti-apartheid struggle veteran. The honour recognises South Africans who have contributed to the fight for human rights, democracy, peace and conflict resolution. The award was received on her behalf by her granddaughter Zoleka as Madikizela-Mandela is currently ill in hospital.