On July 30, 2008, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars presented the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service to South African Finance Minister Trevor A. Manuel and the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship to South African entrepreneur Raymond Ackerman at a dinner at the Sandton Sun Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa. Reuben September, CEO of Telkom SA Limited, served as the chairman of the event, and Telkom was the sponsor of the dinner. This was the first time that these prestigious awards had been presented to Africans and the first time the annual awards dinner had been held on the continent of Africa.

(Left to Right: Dinner Chairman, Reuben September; Trevor Manuel; Raymond Ackerman; Howard Wolpe)

"The entire Republic of South Africa has benefited greatly from the distinguished careers of both honorees. They have been leaders in their respective fields in achieving South Africa's remarkable transition to democracy over the last two decades and have made important contributions to the country's social welfare and economic well being," said Lee H. Hamilton, president and director of the Woodrow Wilson Center, who could not attend the event but pre-recorded a message to the assemblage.

Finance Minister Trevor A. Manuel (pictured Left) received the Award for Public Service for his many years of commitment to the people and economy of South Africa, from his support for the struggle against Apartheid and his years in prison, to his current leadership role in the country's economic health. Appointed by President Nelson Mandela in 1996, he is one of the country's longest-serving ministers, and has been instrumental in the revival of South Africa's economy over the past decade, achieving its first recorded surplus in 2007. Manuel also has helped transform the country into an attractive destination for global manufacturers, and he has expanded South Africa's international tourism industry. He is the longest serving Finance Minister in the world and serves as chairperson of the Development Committee of the International Monetary Fund. He is involved with the Commission for Africa, working for economic development across the continent. Manuel's political and business achievements have been recognized throughout the world, receiving honors such as the Africa Prize (German Africa Foundation), the African Finance Minister of the Year award (Euromoney), and several honorary doctorates from premier universities.

Raymond Ackerman received the Award for Corporate Citizenship in recognition of his distinguished business career and entrepreneurial leadership, and for his efforts in both breaking down racial barriers in the workplace during the Apartheid years and spearheading business recovery in the new South Africa. As chairman of the Pick 'n Pay Group, he oversees 50,000 employees in one of Africa's largest and most successful retailers of food and clothing. He has earned numerous accolades, including an honorary doctorate in Commerce from the University of Cape Town and a Millennium Achiever's Award from the Institute of Marketing Management. Additionally, Ackerman has supported numerous projects designed to encourage self-reliance, entrepreneurship, education and life-skills enhancement through his family foundation.

"Both of these individuals are well-known to me and are among the most respected leaders in South Africa. We are very pleased that the Center's board of trustees decided to honor them, as the first South Africans to receive the Woodrow Wilson Awards," said Howard Wolpe.

Over 400 South Africans attended the gala event, which was magnificently staged by the Wilson Center's Development Program staff, led by Greg Houston, and including Fred Bush and Steve Pearson. Local South African events planners, Dhlamini and Weil, worked with the Development staff to organize both the logistics and the fund-raising outreach.

This South African awards dinner benefited the Woodrow Wilson Center's Africa Program and Project on Leadership and Building State Capacity, both of which are led by former U.S. Congressman and House Africa Subcommittee Chairman Howard Wolpe. Proceeds will help expand scholarship, research, and programming on issues important to Africa and will support the Center's ongoing peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction initiatives in Africa in continued consultation with the South African government.