The National Orders are awarded in the spirit of our country’s rebirth as South Africa moves towards a culture of humanity, respect and dignity. They were first bestowed in 2002 by former President Mbeki, after a process begun by the President’s Advisory Council in 1998 to revise the previous system of awards. This year, they were conferred by President Zuma at the Union Buildings on Freedom Day, April 27th.
The Order of Mapungubwe is awarded to South African citizens for excellence and exceptional achievement. It was given to Professor Schoub in Silver for his achievement in virology and his contribution to medical science and the people of South Africa and internationally. “I am deeply gratified by this extraordinary honour and I am humbled to be in the presence of such illustrious companions who have received the Order before me”.
Professor Schoub has dedicated his life to the public health service of South Africa. His major contribution to the welfare of South Africans and the region has been the development of a public health institution which provides a world-class centre of excellence to guide the management of outbreaks of communicable diseases. He was the Director of the National Institute for Virology from 1982 to 2001, and went on to be the founding Director of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases until the end of August 2010. Schoub was appointed as the University of the Witwatersrand’s first Professor of Virology and Head of the Department of Virology in 1978 at the age of 33, one of the youngest appointees to a Chair in the history of the Faculty of Health Sciences. He was also the recipient of Fellowship of Medical Research Council/ National Council for Research and Development and won the Daubenton prize in 1980.
Schoub was the founding President of the African Virology Association in 1995, appointed to the Advisory Committee for Polio Eradication of WHO in 2001, and awarded by the Task force on Immunisation of WHO AFRO for ‘for outstanding support to the polio eradication programme in Africa’ in 2005. Schoub played a significant role in the introduction of the important new vaccines into the country’s vaccination programmes. In 1987, he was tasked by the Medical Research Council of South Africa to establish the country's first AIDS Virus Research Unit, and in 1994 Schoub established the country's first advisory body for immunisation whilst assisting other African countries in his role as adviser to the WHO Afro Task Force on Immunisation.
Schoub has published over 240 scientific publications, 16 chapters in books and has written a book on HIV/AIDS through the Cambridge University Press entitled “AIDS & HIV in Perspective.” Despite these outstanding accomplishments, Schoub is best known for his sincere integrity. “I have had a long but truly rewarding career in public health and what I have personally achieved has really been as part of an outstanding team of health professionals at the Institute. Even more so I have been blessed by having an incomparable support base of an exceptional wife, Barbara, and a wonderful family of three children, Wendy, Richard and Peter.” A Wits University press release on Schoub’s award congratulates him on “what can be achieved when intellectual capital is harnessed for the greater good of mankind.”
The Order of the Baobab is awarded to South African citizens for distinguished service well above and beyond the call of duty. Captain Levin received it in Bronze for his achievement in the aviation field, and for being an excellent ambassador for South Africa as a top pilot and internationally recognised trainer of up-and-coming pilots. A three time South African National Aerobatic Champion, recipient of the ‘Don Tilley Award’ for significant contribution to air safety in 1984, and the recipient of the SA Flyer ‘Lifetime Aviation Achievement Award’ in 2009, to date the only time such an award has ever been made in South Africa, Levin is no stranger to tributes and achievements.
Captain Levin, known affectionately as ‘Scully’, is undoubtedly one of our nation’s most famous pilots of all time. Levin joined South African Airways in 1971 and retired in 2009 after 38 years of uninterrupted service. He flew as part of the SAA’s air displays for numerous state functions, including the inaugurations of Presidents Mbeki and Zuma. Levin is the undisputed doyen of display and aerobatic flying in this country, having flown in air shows across the globe for the past 29 years. He started the first civilian formation aerobatic team in South Africa in 1985. In 2000 Levin founded the ‘Flying Lions Aerobatic Team’ with which he performed the now world famous act of ‘water-skiing’ four aircraft in close formation on a dam west of Johannesburg.
“I am both humbled and honoured to have received this award. I have had more than my fair share of thrilling and exciting times as a pilot. However, what has been most gratifying is working on the training and development of young pilots”, said Levin. “Throughout my career I have been surrounded by colleagues who have both inspired and encouraged me. Being selected for this award reflects the outstanding efforts of those that I have had the pleasure of working with”. Indeed, no other South Africa can claim to have contributed so much to aviation over such an extended period of time.
Both gentlemen are honoured this year in the company of great South African icons, including the Order of Mapungubwe posthumously awarded to Chief Albert Luthuli and O. R. Tambo and the Order of Ikhamanga to Jewish musician Johnny Clegg. The SAJBD is immensely proud of the significant impact of these deserving awardees, and hopes that the spirit of Freedom Day and citizens like Schoub and Levin inspire a new generation of leaders to contribute to South Africa’s young democracy.
As this year’s ceremony took place on Shabbat, Professor Schoub will be receiving his award during next year’s ceremony.
This article was originally published at http://www.sajewishreport.co.za/pdf/2012/may/4-may-2012.pdf