President honours two Witsies

Photo: Tendai Dube

Photo: Tendai Dube

A Wits professor of rock art and an activist for people with disabilities are amongst 32 people due to receive the Order of the Baobab from President Jacob Zuma at a national orders event.

“I hope some of that comes to Wits as well because the work that led to the award is the work done by Wits people,”

Professor James Lewis-Williams will receive the Baobab Order of Gold for his exceptional and distinguished contribution to the field of archaeology. Lewis-Williams said it was “a surprise and an honour” to get the award.

“I hope some of that comes to Wits as well because the work that led to the award is the work done by Wits people,” Lewis-Williams said.

On the presidency’s website it says his research on the rock art of the ancient people of southern Africa has contributed invaluable knowledge about their lives and times.

Lewis-Williams joined Wits in 1978 and, according to the Wits archives, has been primarily responsible for elevating a traditionally descriptive and marginalised area of research, rock art studies, to a leading area of study within archaeology.

SABC producer and Wits student, Douglas Anderson, will be honoured with the Baobab Order of Silver for his excellent contribution to the upliftment of the lives of children and people with disabilities.

“I am just a regular Joe, wanting to make a difference in the world, and to be recognised at the highest for this is humbling,”

Anderson is doing his honours at the Wits school of journalism.  Doctors said he had a two percent chance of survival at birth and would have no quality of life.  Having had a disability encouraged him to help Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) focusing on people with disabilities.

When he had the opportunity to present his shows on Radio 2000 from 2007-2012, he paid particular attention to promoting the rights of people with disabilities, highlighting challenges faced by people with disabilities. In 2012 he started fulfilling the role of the senior content producer, making sure that disability content is featured in various shows on Radio 2000.

Anderson said doctors were wrong because he had been “incredibly blessed” on his journey and chose to give back. “I am just a regular Joe, wanting to make a difference in the world, and to be recognised at the highest for this is humbling,” he said.

The national orders are the highest honour that South Africa bestows on citizens and foreign nationals for their contribution to the advancement of the country. The Order of the Baobab recognises South African citizens who have contributed to community service, business and economy, science, medicine and technological innovation.

Other orders include Order of Mendi for Bravery, Order of Ikhamanga, Order of Luthuli and the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo.

The National Orders ceremony was meant to be on the 27th of April, South Africa’s Freedom Day. The presidency postponed the event, it said, to mourn the deaths of seven people that were killed during violent attacks on foreign nationals last month.