Edna Freinkel Awarded the Order of the Baobab by South Africa President, Thabo Mbeki

Edna Freinkel being awarded the Order of the Baobab by South African President,  Thabo Mbeki on June 16th, 2004Youth Day, June 16th, 2004

The Order of the Baobab is awarded to South African citizens for distinguished service in the fields of business and the economy, science, medicine, and for technological innovation and community service.

  • The Supreme Counsellor of the Baobab in gold is awarded for exceptional service.
  • The Grand Counsellor of the Baobab in silver is awarded for excellent service.
  • The Counsellor of the Baobab in bronze is awarded for outstanding service.

Four people were awarded the Order of the Baobab in Bronze:

  • Mirriam Cele for community-building
  • Edna Freinkel for lifelong dedication to the development of specialised learning methods for the learning impaired in South Africa
  • Mpho Sebanyoni-Mothlasedi for community service
  • Prince Cabangukuhle Penuel Zulu for lifetime dedication to the fight against discrimination

About the Order of the Baobab

To quote directly from the book for the AWARDS CEREMONY FOR NATIONAL ORDERS:

The Order of the Baobab takes its inspiration from what is seen by some to be the oldest life form in Africa, the Baobab tree, whose endemic distribution and peculiar appearance and features have made it emblematic of the tropical African landscape. Its sparse branch and leaf system (relative to its massively wide trunk) gives the Baobab (or Adonsonia Digitata) the appearance, when viewed from distance, of being permanently uprooted. In closer proximity, the Baobab with its colossal wide trunk - sometimes exceeding a diameter of five metres - supported by the broad and strong protruding root system supporting it, has the effect of suggesting a gigantic refuge from the sun or rain. Indeed, in traditional African societies, it is often the place for meetings, shelter and rest.

While the origin of its name is lost in the many rich legends and myths of Africa, the Baobab is probably the most described tree on the continent. The oldest living Baobab is estimated to be more than 3,000 years old. The Baobab is well known for its magical powers and symbolic value to many indigenous Africa people, as well as its functional usefulness. The Baobab bark is used to make mats, hats, cloth and rope; its fruits are eaten and its wood burnt as fuel.

The age and utility of this tree suggest endurance, wisdom, endowment and bounty. It perfectly symbolises the sustained and exceptional service to South Africa that is recognised by the award of the Order of the Baobab, as well as the enduring and growing status of South Africans resulting from service thus rendered.

The Order of the BaobabThe central motif (1) of the order is the image of the Baobab tree enclosed in a nine-sided polygon (2), which symbolizes the nine provinces of our country as well as the many different areas of possible contribution and service to the nation. The exterior shape and texture are reminiscent of the bark on the trunk of the Baobab tree (3).

Recipients of the order are entitled to indicate that they have been invested with the relevant category of the order by the use of the following nominal letters:

SCOB: Supreme Counsellor of the Baobab (Gold)
GCOB: Grand Counsellor of the Baobab (Silver)
COB : Counsellor of the Baobab (Bronze)

Edna's Acknowledgements

Of course nothing could have been achieved without my beloved Lionel who has unfailingly given me moral and financial support for our whole married life. Often I have wanted to give up and he would encourage me to go on. A few months ago when I apologised to him for worrying him so much about the constant digging into his pension to keep the Trust going he said simply, "You have a dream and I want to help you fulfil it."

When President Mbeki stood and chatted to me while the citation was read by the Chancellor of National Orders, Rev Frank Chikane, he said he was proud of me and thanked me for what I am doing for South Africa. I told him I was accepting it in memory of my mother, Rebecca Ostrowiak, whose work it all is.