College of Graduate Studies

Iconic South African women honoured at Unisa

Unisa, in collaboration with the Charlotte Mannya-Maxeke Institute, hosted the "Bring Her Up: Women of Firsts Awards" to celebrate women icons in different spheres, and to promote and preserve excellence in the country.

"I believe the 'Bring Her Up: Women of Firsts Awards' ethos will continue to subvert and uproot the destructive spirit of suppressing others as we all empower our country’s people to attain their best in life," said Unisa Principal and Vice-Chancellor (VC), Prof Mandla Makhanya in his welcome address at the ceremony on 27 August 2019.

Back, from left: Max Maxeke (Deputy Chair and Spokesperson: Charlotte Mannya-Maxeke Institute), Thulasizwe Makhanya (CEO: Charlotte Mannya-Maxeke Institute), Nonkululeko Gobodo (chartered accountant and pioneering entrepreneur), Daphne Mashile-Nkosi (Business Award recipient), Prof Mandla Makhanya (Unisa Principal and Vice-Chancellor) & Advocate Sonwabile Mancotywa (CEO: National Heritage Council of South Africa).
Front, from left: Dr Anna Mokgokong (Chancellor: North-West University), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs), Bathabile Dlamini (President: ANC Women's League) & Dr Bongi Ngema-Zuma (Businesswoman).

This project recognises and honours women who have played a role in creating innovative solutions to move the country forward, towards a progressive democracy. In his speech, Makhanya shared his joy with the audience regarding the philosophy of this award ceremony in honour of women of stature, playing magnificent roles in community upliftment, and bridging gaps existing between the multitudes of binaries which divide the society. "These esteemed honourable award recipients have shown strides of growing home-based skills and talent that will impact many future generations," he said.

Congratulating the recipients, the VC assured them that they are on the right path. However, he emphasised that it does not mean that one should not enjoy the fruits of one’s labours, although he cautioned that enjoying the fruits and the 'game' of making money should never overtake the reason why people are doing it in the first place. "It is when we forget who we are and where we came from, that we tend to lose our humanity, and with it, little pieces of our souls," he said. 

Development of women in industries

The first black woman to qualify as a chartered accountant in 1987, Nonkululeko Gobodo, who is also a recipient, shared some powerful nuggets in her keynote address entitled "Economic transformation designed by women for women". Gobodo spoke on equal pay in the workplace, and she said that the pay gap should not be tolerated as it is robbery.

Penny Lebyane, radio and TV personality, presented the Business and Entertainment Awards and spoke on the importance of language preservation in South Africa, saying that when one language arises, it does not mean that another must fall. CEO of Newzroom Afrika, Thabile Ngwato, said that women are changing the narrative of what South African media looks like. "Part of the vision is to change the face of ownership," she said.

All the speakers echoed Charlotte Maxeke’s words: "The work is not for ourselves, kill that spirit of self and do not live above your people but live with them and if you can rise, bring someone with you."

A tribute was paid to Dr Thandi Ndlovu, a business tycoon, who died recently.

The award ceremony was graced by dignitaries, political figures, business moguls and celebrities. The event brought Charlotte Mannya-Maxeke’s spirit alive and was a truly phenomenal gathering of remarkable women.

The full list of awardees is as follows:

Agriculture and Farming: Anna Phosa, first black female commercial rarmer in South Africa
Ambassador’s Award: Major Mandisa Mfeka, South Africa’s first black female combat fighter pilot

Ambassador’s Award: Margaret Tyobo, founder and CEO of Ayanda Junior Academy, the first private junior academy in a township

Arts, Culture and Heritage: Dr Gcina Mhlophe, master storyteller

Arts, Culture and Heritage: Princess Magogo ka Dinuzulu, composer of Zulu classical music

Astounding in STEM: Linda Mabhena-Olagunju, founder and eirector of the  DLO Energy Resources Group

Astounding in STEM: Nka’Thuto Edu Propeller Co-Founders Thulile Khanyile and Thandeka Mhlanga

Aviation: Lt Col Phetogo Molawa First black person to command a South African Air Force (SAAF) installation

Business: Daphne Mashile-Nkosi, Executive Chairman & Founder of Kalagadi Manganese

Chairman’s Award: Dr Anna Mokgokong, founder of Community Investment Holdings

Chairman’s Award: Dr Thozama April, author on women and feminist historiography

Chairman’s Award: Nozala Investments, Women Investment and Empowerment Group

Chairman’s Award: Stefanutti Stocks Holdings Limited, a construction company that gives back to the community.

Construction and Engineering: Dr Thandi Ndlovu, founder and CEO of Motheo Construction.

Distinctive Youth Leadership: Dr Sithembile Mbete, political analyst and lecturer, Dept of Political Sciences, University of Pretoria

Entertainment: Bonang Matheba founder of the House of BNG and broadcaster extraordinaire.

Entertainment: Sho Madjozi, first South African female to win BET Best New International Act

Groundbreaking Globalist: Minister Bogolo Kenewendo, economist, politician and Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Botswana

Leadership: Dr Brigalia Bam, former chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)

Media: Thabile Ngwato, co-founder of Newzroom Afrika

Medical: Dr Keorapetse Tabane, first black oncologist in South Africa

Sport: Kass Naidoo, South Africa’s first female cricket commentator

Sport: Penny Heyns, the only woman in the history of the Olympic Games to win both the 100 m and 200 m breaststroke events

* By Lesego Ravhudzulo, Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2019/09/03