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This year's awards were held under the theme: “Celebrating Excellence in Diplomacy – Working Together to Build a Better Africa and a Better World”.


President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday, 15 February 2020, delivered the keynote address at the annual Ubuntu Awards, hosted by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.


The purpose of the Ubuntu Awards is to recognise South African citizens for their distinguished service and contribution to promoting South Africa’s national interests and values across the world.


The event takes place traditionally after the Opening of Parliament and brings together captains of industry, civil-society leaders, members of Cabinet and other eminent persons in addition to ambassadors and high commissioners accredited to South Africa.


Among the 2020 winners were The Daily Show host and Grammy Award nominee, Trevor Noah, who was awarded the Ubuntu Arts and Cultural Diplomacy Award in the youth category for flying the South African flag high in his field of work.


World-celebrated musician Vusi Mahlasela, who is a SA Music Awards Lifetime Achievement recipient, was also a recipient of the Arts and Cultural Diplomacy Award in the veterans’ category.


Springboks assistant coach, Mzwandile Stick, received the Sports Diplomacy Award on behalf of the team. This after their Rugby World Cup triumph in Japan last year and for uniting the country behind the slogan “Stronger Together”.


The Ubuntu Lifetime Achievement Award went to Dr Brigalia Bam, a prominent gender activist.


Bam is the Chancellor of Walter Sisulu University, a former Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission and former General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches.


She was recently awarded the prestigious Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Peace and Reconciliation.


“What we are doing here this evening – celebrating excellence in diplomacy – aligns with our broader efforts to achieve these objectives, because conflict occurs only when diplomacy has collapsed.


“The various categories of these prestigious awards are indicative of the fact that successful diplomacy is an integrated effort, and one that draws together different activities, qualities and capabilities,” President Ramaphosa said.


 President Ramaphosa thanked all the award winners and nominees for representing what he called “brand South Africa”.

“I would like to say thank you for flying the South African flag high. You have assumed the task, as you fly this flag high, you have taken into your hands the task of elevating what I would call ‘Brand South Africa’ in the community of nations.”