The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has presented Africa’s premier “one-off extraordinary award” of $1 million to Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. The foundation had earlier announced in London on Thursday that it will honour Tutu “in recognition of his lifelong commitment to speaking truth to power”.
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation was launched in October 2006 to support good governance and great leadership in Africa. In 2006, the Foundation launched the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. The Prize is awarded to democratically elected former African Heads of State who have delivered security, health, education, rights, rule of law and economic development to their constituents and who have democratically transferred power to their successors in the last three years.
The foundation said on Thursday that Tutu’s ‘Extraordinary Ibrahim Award’ does not replace the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, but was additional to it. It said this year’s Ibrahim award has not yet been adjudicated, but the foundation’s experience since 2007 raises the question of whether enough outgoing African presidents meet its criteria to expect it to be granted annually any time soon.
Making the award to Tutu, the foundation said it wanted to recognise “an outstanding African civil society champion.”
It added: “Archbishop Desmond Tutu is and has throughout his life been one of Africa’s great voices for justice, freedom, democracy and responsible, responsive government.
“In everything he stands for, says, and does, he displays a consistent determination to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak the uncomfortable truth.”
The extraordinary award will be presented to Tutu later this year in Dakar during the annual Ibrahim Discussion Forum, which focuses this year on youth.