Shared Interest, the New York based non-profit social investment fund working in Southern Africa, honoured five South Africans at its 20th Anniversary Awards Gala Thursday night at Gotham Hall in New York City. Receiving awards were film producer Anant Singh, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, social justice advocate and philanthropist The Rev. Mpho Tutu, and South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool and anti-apartheid and human rights activist Rosieda Shabodien.
Anant Singh received the Award for Advancing Social Justice through Film; Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu was honored with the Award for A Lifetime of Leadership for Justice, Reconciliation and Peace, The Rev. Mpho Tutu received the Award for Inspiring the Next Generation for her efforts at the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation; Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool and Rosieda Shabodien were presented with the Award for Forging Partnerships for Equality and Human Rights. In the corporate category, Avon Products Inc. received the Award for Empowering Women in South Africa.
On accepting the Award, Anant Singh said, "Thank you for this huge honour which I accept with humility and gratitude. Telling our South African stories in motion pictures is very much a collaborative effort. Your acknowledgement of my achievements is also an acknowledgement of the tens of thousands of people that have worked with me on my films over the past three decades. It is an even more exceptional honour to be sharing this platform with people that I admire so much. People that have inspired me to do the best I can and to tell our stories on film to the world. To be on the same stage as the Arch is so special and an unimaginable honour for me, and to be recognised together with Mpho, Rosieda and Ebrahim is very special. To "Shared Interest", I thank you for this accolade which I dedicate to Madiba. My South African story telling is a response to the call by Madiba and the ANC in exile in the 80's for all persons to do what they could to speak out against apartheid. I decided to do it through film. This award is also fitting as "Shared Interest" is very much a spirit which prevailed throughout Madiba's life."
Speaking at the event, Archbishop Tutu thanked the Shared Interest and the American people for all they did to oppose apartheid, and congratulated Shared Interest for their micro lending projects in South Africa. He also singled out Singh and heaped praise on the film, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom which honoured Nelson Mandela and slammed the Academy Awards with a smile for snubbing the film, asking, "Who are those people? They missed a real opportunity by not honouring Madiba."
About Shared Interest: Since the end of apartheid in 1994, Shared Interest has mobilized US investors, philanthropists, corporations and faith-based organizations to invest in South Africa's future by providing microfinance organizations, agricultural cooperatives, small businesses and low cost housing organizations with access to capital. More than two million black South Africans - the majority of them women - have benefited from Shared Interest's $15 million loan guarantees and technical support from South African partner, Thembani International Guarantee Fund, to create jobs, launch small businesses, and build affordable homes. In the past Shared Interest honorees have included Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, Pravin Gordhan, Graça Machel, Hugh Masekela and Barbara Masekela, and Albertina and Sheila Sisulu.