Thursday, April 20, 2006

A special day for the Mbeki family

Today is a special day for the Mbeki family. President Thabo Mbeki will confer the Order of the Baobab on his mother, Epainette Mbeki, at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Mrs Mbeki is being honoured for her exceptional contribution to the economic upliftment of the underprivileged communities in the Eastern Cape and her commitment to the fight against apartheid. Other people receiving recognition at the seventh national orders ceremony include the University of South Africa’s Barney Pityana, King Moshoeshoe the Second of Lesotho and King Sobhuza the Second of Swaziland. Sir Seretse Khama, Botswana's former president, will be honoured posthumously.

In Stellenbosch, honorary doctorates are being bestowed on the world-renowned playwright, director and actor Athol Fugard, and the lexicographer, Herbert Ernst Wiegand. Stellenbosch University will award the honorary degrees at its graduation ceremony this afternoon. Time Magazine called Fugard the greatest active playwright in the English-speaking world. The film version of Fugard's only novel, Tsotsi, is currently enjoying world-wide success as the winner of an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Wiegand has made an immense contribution to theoretical lexicography, Germanic studies and linguistics.

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