Three formidable Nelson Mandela Bay residents were honoured at the annual Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) Council Prestige Awards for their immense contribution to the greater university community.
Late unionist and workers’ rights activist Phumzile John Gomomo, former NMMU Council member Cumngce Gawe and internationally renowned motivational speaker Alison Botha are this year’s recipients of the coveted awards.
The awards, conferred on individuals who have shown immense commitment and broken ground in their respective fields, were presented by NMMU Council Chair Judge Ronnie Pillay at a function in Summerstrand on Thursday night – 8 December 2016.
Gawe, 77, was lauded for his loyalty and dedication to the University and its predecessors over the years, through his long and sustained involvement with the institution.
Gawe – who has worked in both the public and private sector over the years – has enjoyed an illustrious career peppered with many accomplishments. The former Uitenhage mayor has served on numerous business committees and councils, including the Eastern Cape Black Management Forum (BMF) Executive and Riebeek College Governing Council.
He has had a long-standing association with the University and was present at the signing of the historic Memorandum of Agreement leading to the merger between the Port Elizabeth Technikon, University of Port Elizabeth (UPE) and Vista University (Port Elizabeth Campus) in 2003.
He was elected to serve on NMMU’s interim council in 2005 and then served as an Alumni Association member to the University Council from 2005 to 2016. During his tenure as Council member, Gawe was elected deputy chairperson for every term of office that he served. He tendered his resignation in February this year due to ill health.
The NMMU Council honoured Botha, 49, for her unstinting commitment to empowering others to transcend their circumstances, overcome life’s difficulties and stand strong in the face of adversity.
The former Collegiate Girls’ High School head girl is renowned the world over for her incredible story of miraculously surviving a horrendous abduction and rape ordeal, in which she was stabbed multiple times, disembowelled and left for dead.
Born in the Bay in 1967, Botha did a year of study at the former PE Technikon after matriculating in 1985. At the age of 21, she travelled overseas, where she spent four years. On returning to South Africa, she took up a job as an Insurance Broker until her life changed on the night of 18 December 1994.
Just as she cheated death that night, she later denied her assailants the satisfaction of destroying her life by refusing to be victimised, sharing her story in her book “I Have Life”. The bestseller was adapted into the recently released movie, “Alison”. She has also addressed thousands of people over the years, inspiring them by sharing how attitude, belief and choice led to her heroic survival.
The manner in which she survived, her inner strength and determination, her lack of bitterness and her serenity and humility captured the attention of South Africa and the world. In 1995, Alison was awarded the prestigious Rotarian Paul Harris Award for ‘Courage Beyond the Norm’. In the same year she was the first recipient of Femina magazine’s ‘Woman of Courage’ award as well as being chosen as Port Elizabeth’s Citizen of the Year.
Gomomo, who would have turned 70 next Friday [16 December 2016], was posthumously lauded for his dedication and unwavering commitment to addressing the rights of workers.
Born in Adelaide, Gomomo did his primary schooling at Lower Ntlaka Primary School, before going on to study until Grade 8 at Marymount High School, in Uitenhage. He later obtained his matric through correspondence studies.
He joined Volkswagen of South Africa in 1963 and, through a company bursary, studied Labour Relations at the former UPE.
His association with the workers’ struggle led to his early understanding of the extremely troubled South African political and social landscape. In the early 1970s he emerged as one of the prominent leaders of workers, soliciting support from the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM) to strengthen the role of workers and their struggles.
Comrade John, as he was affectionately known, is said to have served the trade union with distinction. He was elected chairperson of the Volkswagen Liaison Committee in the early 1970’s – a time when it was illegal for black people to join unions. He became the first chairperson of the Eastern Cape Region of the Federation of South African Trade Unions (FOSATU) and took part in the four-year long talks that, in 1985, led to the formation of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). He was also instrumental in the establishment of the continent’s biggest metalworkers’ union, the National Union of Metalworkers in South Africa (NUMSA).
He was elected second deputy president of COSATU in 1989 and president in 1991. He was forward in the struggles that workers waged at the time and towards the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) and the negotiated transitions in 1994. He became an ANC Member of Parliament (MP) and chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration in 1999.
Gomomo is largely described as a leader who was not self-centered, ambitious nor a careerist and always associated himself with the toiling masses as a true servant of the people. He passed away in Uitenhage on 22 January 2008.
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Article source: http://mype.co.za/new/honours-for-bay-heroes/80453/2016/12