FNF Africa Freedom Award Lecture Ceremony [2016]

The Honey-badger Award
Feature30.08.2017Masechaba Mdaka

Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom launched and awarded its first ever Freedom Award on 28 November 2016. This award seeks to recognise those individuals who speak, stand firmly and headstrong for freedom of speech. Popularly known as the Honey-badger award, it epitomises human characteristics of boldness and go-getter spirit for advocacy in spaces where Freedoms, not just freedom of speech, are being challenged and misconstrued. FNF remains and continues to be a pioneer for responsible advocacy for Freedom of Speech.

The first recipient for this award was Media Personality Gareth Cliff. Mr Cliff is popularly known for airing his opinions on social media as well as on his online radio platform. Mostly controversial at times, Mr Cliff regularly makes headlines with his varying views that bring him under the watchful eye of public scrutiny.  His zeal for engaging topics such as racism have seen him being persecuted, and then vindicated of any wrong intension. When one considers South Africa sensitive history around the issue of race, one often sees the discourse around varying forms of racism being sheltered while other go unnoticed. Its the lacking conversation around intentional and unintentional racial utterances that continues to divide South Africans. It is important to stress the need respectful conversations and advocacy around the matter, where we have frank and open views from every side. 

In Mr Cliffs own words he said, “I really do think its up to ordinary people to drive this agenda forward. Governments are always going to err on the side of restricting speech, of regulating speech, of having us work for them than against them. So we cant rely on them. There are important NGOs like this Institute (FNF), that are doing important work in this field and I think we should all support them whether we do it financially, do it in terms of time or whether we keep feeding the good ideas back into the conversation.”

Freedom of speech is the anchor for ordinary people having the opportunity and right to air their views. It should always be a medium which is available as it provides the very start of advocacy in civil society. FNF looks forward to awarding more recipients in future.