Johannesburg: An unprecedented seven Indian-origin-South Africans have been presented with South Africa's highest civilian awards by President Jacob Zuma. (Agencies)
The seven-Indians were among the 38 recipients of the National Orders, the highest awards the President can bestow on citizens and foreign nationals. It is presented on the Freedom Day that is celebrated on April 27 to mark the day on which Nelson Mandela took over as the country's first democratically-elected President in 1994.
Among the recipients of the order was veteran Indian diplomat Enuga Reddy who had led the fight against apartheid at the UN since 1963. The second highest award called the Order of the Baobab was presented to Lenasia-based community worker Suraya Khan, popularly known to all as "Aunty Bibi", while the same order in Silver went to journalist and community activist Yusuf Abramjee and pioneering skin cloning plastic surgeon Dr Ridwan Mia.
"I am truly humbled. This award does not belong to me. It really does not. It belongs to all the women who go out into communities to help other women," said Khan.
"My parents always told us - It's not about money it's about service to the community. We will fail the legacy of all the recipients if we don't continue serving the poor in our society. I've used my skills as a plastic surgeon to do just that," added Mia.
"Over the years I have received many awards, many praises, many accolades, but I think this one is certainly something that I will treasure," said Abramjee said.
Along with Reddy, Jesses Jackson veteran US human rights activist, and former Jamaican President Percival James Patterson were also awarded with Orders.
Johannesburg: An unprecedented seven Indian-origin-South Africans have been presented with South Africa's highest civilian awards by President Jacob Zuma.