French knighthood for Indian-origin art enthusiast in S Africa
An Indian-origin art lover and playwright in South Africa has been knighted by the French government for his lifelong devotion to the promotion of arts.
Ismail Mahomed was bestowed with 'The Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres' (Knight of the Order of Arts and Literature) by French Ambassador Elisabet Barbier.
Expressing his delight at the recognition, Mahomed said he had "an immense love for Paris."
"I am always overcome with emotion when I stop at the Dulcie September Boulevard. Paris was a home to many of our exiles," Mahomed said.
"I remain grateful to France because it still is a home to many South African artists - Robyn Orlin, Steven Cohen, Vincent Mantsoe and many more. France celebrates the South African artists who live there and it memorialises those who died there," he said.
Established in 1957, the knighthood is bestowed on people for their significant contributions to French culture through arts and literature.
Other South Africans who have received this distinction include artists Gerard Sekoto and William Kentridge, musician Johnny Clegg, and filmmaker Ramadan Suleman.
Mahomed has a long standing relationship with France and has brokered several collaborations between South African and French artists.
Acknowledging his work, Barbier made special mention of his leadership during the bilateral French-South African Seasons in 2014 and 2015.
Currently the Artistic Director of the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, Mahomed has received numerous other awards in his 30-year career, including a Merit Honour Award from the US State Department's Africa Bureau for consistent high cultural programming.
In 1999, he received the Premier's Award for developing and promoting the arts and culture sector as an economic enterprise in the South African province of Mpumalanga.
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