The Nobel Peace Prize is probably Nelson Mandela’s most notable award, but did you know that the South African struggle icon has received more than 250 awards? Here are 10 of the most prestigious.
Over the last 40 years Nelson Mandela has received more than 250 awards, the latest being the Freedom of the London Borough of Brent. He is an honorary citizen of dozens of cities, from Rome to Rio de Janeiro. Parks, streets, and schools around the world hold his name. There is a Nelson Mandela Road in New Delhi, Nelson Mandela Park in Leicester, England, and a Nelson and Winnie Mandela Plaza in New York.
He received countless honorary degrees from universities globally, including the most prestigious ones – Cambridge, London School of Economics (LSE), Paris’ Sorbonne, and Harvard, and less famous institutions such as the University of the Philippines and Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University.
Mandela was also recognised in the sporting community. In 2006 he became an honorary member of Manchester United when the club toured South Africa. Three years later he received Arthur Ashe Courage Award presented by tennis players Venus and Serena Williams.
One of the most peculiar honours Madiba received might be the naming of a South African species of trapdoor spider after him. In 2004 zoologists Brent E. Hendrixson and Jason E. Bond decided to pay tribute to the former leader in this way.
Some of Madiba’s prizes might be considered controversial. In 1989 he was the first to receive the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights in Tripoli, sponsored by the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, killed during the 2011 uprising. Mandela was also the last person awarded the Lenin Peace Prize, given to several people a year rather than to just one individual. Recipients mostly included prominent Communists and supporters of the Soviet Union who were not Soviet citizens, such as Fidel Castro and Salvador Allende.
In 1992 Mandela was awarded the AtatÃ¼rk International Peace Prize by Turkey, but refused to receive it because of human rights violations committed by Turkey during that time, but he later accepted it in 1999.
Here are the most important distinctions the anti-apartheid icon has accepted over the years.
Nobel Peace Prize (1993)
It is one of the oldest surviving traditional awards as it is believed that the first Freedom was presented in 1237. The medieval term ‘freeman’ meant someone who was not the property of a feudal lord but enjoyed privileges such as the right to earn money and own land. Fellow freemen of the City of London include Winston Churchill, SA High Commissioner Dr Zola Skweyiya and footballer Aaron Mokoena.
Philadelphia Liberty Medal presented by Bill Clinton (1993)
Ahead of winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Mandela and De Klerk received the Liberty Medal in a ceremony hosted by President Bill Clinton on 4 July, American Independence Day. The Liberty Medal is awarded annually to men and women of courage and conviction who strive to secure the blessings of liberty to people around the globe. The joint appearance by Mandela and De Klerk came with controversy, as some local leaders didn’t attend the ceremony because of De Klerk’s presence.
Olympic Gold Order (1994)
Nelson Mandela is also an ‘Olympian’. The Olympic Gold Order is the highest award of the International Olympic Committee. The insignia of the Olympic Order is in the form of a chain, in Gold, Silver or Bronze according to grade; the front of the chain depicts the five rings of the Olympic Movement, flanked on either side by the kotinos (olive wreath) emblem.
Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought (1988)
Mandela was the first recipient of this prize awarded by the European Parliament for individuals or organisations for their efforts on behalf of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov (1921-1989) was a Russian physicist, who also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975, but first came to prominence for inventing the hydrogen bomb. Concerned at the implications his work had for the future of humankind, he sought to raise awareness of the dangers of the nuclear arms race. His efforts proved partially successful with the signing of the 1963 nuclear test ban treaty.
Presidential Medal of Freedom (2002)
The highest civilian award in the United States awarded to individuals who have made â€œan especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” The majority of honorees are American citizens. Madiba was presented with the prize by George W. Bush in Washington. The medal was created by President Truman in 1945 to recognise service in the war, and in 1963, President John F Kennedy reintroduced it as an honour for distinguished civilian service in peacetime.
FÃ©lix HouphouÃ«t-Boigny Peace Prize (1991)
Awarded by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) for those who “have made a significant contribution to promoting, seeking, safeguarding or maintaining peace, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.” FÃ©lix HouphouÃ«t-Boigny, the “Sage of Africa” was the first President of CÃ´te d’Ivoire. Originally a village chief, he worked as a doctor, an administrator of a plantation, and a union leader, before being elected to the French Parliament and serving in a number of ministerial positions in the French government. From the 1940s until his death, he played a leading role in the decolonization of Africa and in his country’s politics. Mandela received the award in conjunction with De Klerk.
Anne Frank Medal (1994)
Anne Frank House awarded Mandela for his contributions toward advancing democratic practices in South Africa. The medal honours the memory of the Jewish teenager who hid from the Nazis before being captured and deported to the Buchenwald concentration camp. The prize was presented to Madiba when he opened the “Anne Frank in the World,” exhibition in Johannesburg. Receiving the medal he said, â€œThe victory of the democratic forces in South Africa is a contribution to this worldwide effort to rid humanity of the evil of racism. It is Anne Frank’s victory. It is an achievement of humanity as a whole.”
The Hunger Project’s 8th annual Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger (1994)
The Africa Prize acknowledges the accomplishments of African individuals who have exhibited extraordinary leadership for the end of hunger. The Hunger Project is a global, non-profit, strategic organization committed to the sustainable end of world hunger. As president, Mandela pressed for a more equitable distribution of farmland, to provide rural Africans with the means to grow more food and conquer hunger. “The right to vote, without food, shelter and health care, will create the appearance of equality and justice, while actual inequality is entrenched. We do not want freedom without bread, nor bread without freedom,” he said.