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South Africa: Order of Mapungubwe


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I have settled down for a good look at the orders, decorations and medals of South Africa, so I'll share what I come up with here. I am basing things on the Consolidated Table of Precedence published 11 March 2005 (Government Gazette no. 27376)... and on a fair bit of assistance from some delightful ladies in the South African government!

This establishes the Order of Mapungubwe as the premier order. Instituted on 6 December 2002 by Presidential Warrant[1] this order is intended to recognise exceptional, excellent and outstanding achievements made by South Africans to the benefit of the Republic and in the international arena.

The order, which is regarded as the premier South African order, is named after Mapungubwe, an ancient African nation which existed a thousand years ago in what is now the northern part of the Limpopo province. The insignia is designed to reflect this heritage.

The order was originally established in three classes – Platinum, Gold and Bronze – and a fourth class, Silver, was added on 22 October 2004[2]. The first award, in Platinum, was made to Nelson Mandela for his services towards national reconciliation and nation-building.

The Badge of the Order consists of a horizontal oval above an inverted trapezium. Within the oval, a rhinoceros is depicted in front of the sun rising over Mapungubwe hill. There is a beadwork pattern across the curved upper edge of the trapezium, with an ornate crucible from which molten gold flows down to a red furnace in the centre, bordered by two twisted sceptres. The reverse shows the National arms. The Badge is identical for all grades, the metal varying according to class, and it is worn on a neck ribbon which is gold, edged with a line of cream-coloured bead-like dots along each edge, and recurring cream-coloured rhinoceros silhouettes down the centre.

Unfortunately, with it being a new and rarely-awarded order, finding pictures of actual insignia is a bit difficult. So for the time being I am making do with a good drawing of the thing!

[1] Government Gazette No 24155

[2] Government Gazette No 26929

Edited by Megan
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