- South African diva Miriam Makeba and others were honoured at the recently celebrated at the recent Africa Achievement Awards 2004 in Beverly Hills, USA. The glamorous event saw a long list of African-American and African guests, celebrating Africa's history and Ms Makeba's lifetime achievement.
Major focus of the evening was the ten-year anniversary of South Africa's freedom vote, accentuated by the Lifetime Africa Achievement Award bestowed on South Africa's vocalist Miriam Makeba. Born in 1932, Ms Makeba has been an international star since the 1950s.
South Africa's progress since the end of apartheid in 1994 was memorialised by the opening remarks of South Africa's Consul-General to Los Angeles, Glaudine Mtshali. Also Ms Makeba had her role in the 1994 victory as she has voiced strong criticism against apartheid since the early 1960s.
The recent event was celebrated in the glamour capital of North America - Beverly Hills - and had an essence of effervescence, ambiance, glamour, inspiration, and pride. The 12th Annual Africa Achievement Awards dinner gala counted on over 400 dinner guests from all parts of the US, with several official government delegations from Africa.
Four notable celebrants, including Ms Makeba, received recognition for their contributions to Africa. In addition to the awards, Africa Day was for the first time celebrated officially in the US. Africa Day commemorates the establishment of OAU - now the African Union (AU) - designated 41 years ago. Recognition of Africa Day was made official by a proclamation from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, representing 10 million residents in one of the USA's largest counties.
Nigeria's contributions to today's Africa were celebrated by highlighting the efforts of Dora Akunyili, the Director-General of Nigeria's National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). Ms Akunyili was honoured with the 2004 Africa Civic Responsibility Award for her "impressive achievements not just in Nigeria, but Africa in general."
Her acceptance remarks, made at the Beverly Hills event, carried a major Africa policy message to the international pharmaceutical companies in terms of their market positioning and market practices on the continent.
The other honourees for 2004 included Reverend Michael Beckwith, the founder of the Agape International Spiritual Centre, who received the evening's Africa Peace Award and Rifaat Salem of Egypt, a distinguished physician and founder of the Pacific Reproductive Centre, honoured with the 2004 Africa Diaspora Award.
The evening also enjoyed its fair share of Hollywood celebrity guests at the dinner tables and on stage emceeing the Gala was actor Bill Duke of 'Roots' fame, and Michael Colyar, a well known Hollywood actor and comedian.
Many Africa-related sponsors - including South Africa Tourism, Clear Essence Cosmetics, Africa Consult Group, Progeny Ventures, Save Africa's Children Foundation, National Visa Services and Western Union International Financial Services - supported the event.
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