Great Hall_side

Wits University, Great Hall                                                                                              Photo:Stock Images

Four academics, past and present and alumnae were recipients of National Orders on Thursday, namely the late Prof Benedict Wallet Vilakazi, Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng (President of Wits Convocation), Prof Helen Rees and Sylvia Glasser.

The National Orders are the highest awards that South Africa, through its president, bestows on its citizens and renowned foreign nationals.

In a statement, Wits Vice Chancellor Adam Habib congratulated the recipients.

“As we continue on this path of creating a shared humanity and history for all South Africans, it is fitting that Prof Vilakazi (scholar, poet and lecturer) and Mrs Glasser (teacher and choreographer) are honoured for their contributions to create a multiracial and multicultural society,” said Habib in a statement.

The Order of Ikhamanga recognises South Africans who have excelled in the fields of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sport.

The late Vilakazi was awarded Gold in this category for his contribution to the field of literature in indigenous languages and the preservation of Zulu culture through the creation of the isiZulu-English dictionary.

Wits alumnus, Sylvia Glasser received her award in Silver for her contribution to the field of dance and transference of skills to young people from all racial backgrounds which fostered social cohesion in the time of apartheid.

The Order of the Boabab recognises South Africans who have contributed to community service, business and economy, science, medicine and technological innovation.

Both Rees and Phakeng received Silver.

“We commend the countless contributions made by Professor Helen Rees to address today’s biggest global health challenges through her outstanding research and intellectual achievement at the highest level,” said Habib.

What Prof Phakeng had to say on her accolade: “I’m still pinching myself because I can’t understand how small little me could actually be honoured in this way. It’s such a huge honour.”