The Order of the Companions of OR Tambo recognizes eminent foreign nationals for friendship shown to South Africa. It is therefore an Order of peace, cooperation and active expression of solidarity and support.
This year it was bestowed in silver on Tracy Chapman (United States of America): “For her contribution to the fight for freedom by participating in efforts to free Nelson Mandela and raising awareness of human rights violations globally” said Director general in the Presidency Phindile Baleni
The ceremony took place on April 28th and was broadcasted live on social media, but Tracy was not present to receive her medal.
Why was Tracy Chapman bestowed the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo?
No one has forgotten her performances at the Nelson Mandela 70th Tribute Concert in 1988 and the Free South Africa concert in 1990 and also her participation at the Human Rights Now! Tour in 1988. She also dedicated the song Freedom Now to Nelson Mandela, a song you can find on her second album “Crossroads”. Watch her perform it live in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on the Human Rights Now tour on October 15, 1988 👇
Who else but Tracy Chapman was bestowed the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo in 2023?
President Cyril Ramaphosa honored South Africans and eminent foreign nationals who have done exceptionally well in supporting democracy, nation-building and inspiring the country.
Peter Tosh was also recognized for his contribution to South Africa’s liberation struggle using “his musical talent to advance the liberation cause worldwide through incisive and awareness-raising lyrics in his music.” the official said. Tosh was honored post-humous together with New Zealand anti-apartheid activist and educationist Thomas Oliver Newnham who “was particularly instrumental in shaming apartheid South Africa, and stopping rugby tours between South Africa and New Zealand.”
Christabel Gurney of United Kingdom waq bestowed with the same award for “providing steadfast support and friendship to freedom fighters by mobilizing international communities and raising awareness of human rights violations globally.”
The final recipient of the Order of Companions of OR Tambo for this year was German poet Ruth Weiss who contributed to the liberation struggle “through her prolific writing that shone the light on injustices in South Africa. She has been a source of knowledge for other journalists and activists.”