Honoured for their roles

McKeed Kotlolo

McKeed Kotlolo

South African struggle veteran Sally Motlana celebrated her 80th birthday with a national award from President Thabo Mbeki yesterday.

Mbeki presented the awards at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

The former wife of eminent Soweto doctor, Nthato Motlana, was among 23 recipients of the Order of the Baobab, the Order of Luthuli and the Order of Companions of OR Tambo.

The 24th recipient, internationally acclaimed American musician, Harold "Harry" Belafonte, could not make it to the ceremony.

Motlana received the Grand Counsellor of the Baobab award for her contribution to the struggle for the emancipation of women.

She studied at Fort Hare University and became a teacher after graduating.

Following the introduction of bantu education in 1954, she left teaching.

She was a driving force in the founding of the South African Council of Churches.

In the '70s she was elected national president of the Black Housewives' League, a position she held for 20 years. She is presently the league's honorary president.

Other recipients of the Order of the Baobab were gender equality activist Joyce Piliso-Seroke, the late Eric Molobi, Ephraim Sibiya for his contribution to nature conservation and Anvir Adams for his contribution to the fight against racial discrimination in higher education.

Those who received the Order of Luthuli award included Rika Hodgson, a fundraiser for the anti-apartheid movement, Emma Mashinini, a trade unionist.

Also honoured was Mfanafuthi Makatini, who became head of ANC mission to the UN in 1977 and later became head of the ANC department of international affairs.

Other recipients were Florence Mophosho, also an anti-apartheid activist, and Gert Sibande, who worked to improve the working conditions of farm labourers.