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On 28 April 2023, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa presented the German-Jewish journalist Ruth Weiss with the Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo. It is South Africa’s highest national award for foreign nationals and honours the contribution of the now 98-year-old in the liberation struggle and her tireless highlighting of injustices in apartheid South Africa. Born in Germany in 1924, her family was forced to emigrate to South Africa in 1936 due to the Nazi seizure of power and the increasing persecution of Jews. There, with the introduction of the apartheid system, she was once again confronted with institutionalised racism and state oppression. Driven by her personal experiences, Ruth Weiss decided to become actively involved in the fight against apartheid – through journalism. She reported critically on the policies of the apartheid regime in German- and English-language media, thus exposing the crimes and injustices of apartheid to the world. The honour is also the first public recognition of Ruth Weiss in South Africa. In Germany, she was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit, 1st Class, in 2014 and the Honorary Award of the German Africa Foundation in 2019; in 2020, Ruth Weiss was appointed Honorary President of the PEN Centre of German-language Authors Abroad.
The German Africa Foundation also actively supported Ruth Weiss’ nomination and would like to congratulate her most warmly on being honoured with the Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo!
Click here to read Ruth Weiss’ the travel report and thank you letter.