An international women’s rights activist, renowned rugby player and humanitarian and a businessperson with a passion for development were honoured at the annual Nelson Mandela University’s Council Prestige Awards for using their individual influence for the greater good of humanity.
Founder and executive director of East Lodon-based NGO Masimanyane Women’s Rights International Dr Lesley-Ann Foster, Nelson Mandela Bay business consultant Bongi Siwisa and Zwide-born Springbok rugby captain Siya Kolisi were the recipients of the coveted awards.
The awards are conferred on individuals who have made a significant impact on communities locally, nationally and/or internationally; embody the values of Mandela University and who, through their work, have contributed to the transformation of society. They will be presented by Mandela University Council Chairperson, Ambassador Nozipho January-Bardill.
Speaking at the awards on Monday night (10 December), Ms January-Bardill acknowledged the role each recipient played in their respective areas of influence.
“You are being recognised for not only looking well beyond yourself and your own success, but for always looking to the needs of others be it business, as an activist for women or on the rugby field,” she said.
Reflecting on the year 2018 – which, under the new leadership, was one of gearing up – Ms January-Bardill said it had indeed been a year of preparation.
“We have spent much of 2018 identifying our strengths and shortcomings, in preparing for the exciting journey ahead, while also re-imagining a new future, and then prioritising what needs to be done to advance our efforts.
“Yes, we know there are challenges – a lack funding; transformation concerns, gender-based violence, safety and security worries, hungry students … but none of these is insurmountable.
“I am confident we can do this. I am confident we can overcome these challenges. But only if we work together, bringing all our expertise, experience and passion together to take this university forward with its many exciting new projects.
“I believe our Prestige Award winners will attest to this – the importance of working alongside one another for the greater good. When we live the value of Ubuntu, everyone benefits.”
Dr Foster was lauded for her extensive contribution to social inclusion and changing the lives of women and children affected by gender based violence. The University Council believes that she serves as an inspiration to our students and staff, especially those who are the survivors of gender-based violence and oppression.
Her Masimanyane organisation’s mission is to eradicate gender-based violence in order to achieve a healthy, safe, secure, equal, responsible and supportive society for all women and girl children. Her work extends to 26 countries across Africa in her capacity as President of Amanitare Sexual Rights Network.
Ms Siwisa is a business consultant specialising in the field of public participation facilitation for environmental impact assessment studies, social and skills development. She has been involved as a founding member of women’s broad based empowerment groups, Lituba Lethu Investments Ltd and Qhamani Women’s Investment Trust which has invested in a number of South African blue chip companies.
Her passion for the community has led her to serve on the committees of various community development structures which include St. Francis Hospice, Emmanuel Haven and Vezokuhle Youth Development Project. She has been instrumental in sourcing funds for disabled youth and children’s organisations and has also facilitated job opportunities for the physically disabled, placing at least eight disabled people in permanent work positions.
Siya Kolisi, who made history by becoming the first black African to captain the Springboks national rugby team in its 126-year existence, was awarded for his incredible sporting prowess and his focus on humanitarian work.
His award was made in abstentia.
He grew up in the Port Elizabeth township of Zwide, where his sporting prowess became evident from an early age, earning him a sports scholarship to the affluent Grey Junior, and subsequently High School, where he played for the first XV rugby team.
He boasts an illustrious rugby career, having played for teams including Stormers, Eastern Province Kings and the under-20 national side, and was selected captain of the Stormers in 2017 and of the Springboks this year – the latter a monumental moment for SA rugby.
He serves on the board of directors of MyPlayers, the players’ organisation of all professional rugby players in South Africa. He is also an advocate for the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100, an initiative of the international advocacy organisation Global Citizen, calling world leaders to honour their responsibilities in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and ending extreme poverty by 2030.