Architect of Democracy receives Knighthood of the Legion of Honour
At the 2015 celebration of French National Day on 14 July, known outside of France as Bastille Day, Ambassador of France to South Africa, Her Excellency Elisabeth Barbier, bestowed upon Mr Ahmed Kathrada the signet of Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur (Knighthood in the Legion of Honour).
“The new South Africa celebrated its twentieth birthday last year and during all those years, you worked tirelessly to keep the memory and the spirit of the struggle alive,” said Ambassador Barbier during her address at the award ceremony at the French Residence in Pretoria. “Mr Kathrada, your life-long struggle for justice and freedom commands respect and admiration. Your example demonstrates that freedom, equality, fraternity, ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’, are not just words devoid of signification. They are an ideal able to inspire the life and dedication of great, exceptional men.”
The French Legion of Honour celebrates the accomplishments of distinguished individuals, irrespective of gender, social background and nationality. Other prominent South Africans who have received this honour are Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and the late Nadine Gordimer. Late former president Nelson Mandela received the Grand Croix de la Legion d’Honneur (or the Grand Cross) in 1994 from former French president François Mitterrand.