Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman has been voted as 2023 Daily Trust African of the Year.
The awards from the Nigerian newspaper Daily Trust began in 2008 when Dr Denis Mukwege, a medical doctor in the Democratic Republic of Congo was recognised for treating victims of rape and other sexual abuse in the war-torn country.
A decade after being recognised by the newspaper, Dr Mukwege won the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian work.
“Dr Mukwege is a world-renowned gynaecologist, human rights activist, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate from east Congo. He has become the world’s leading specialist in the treatment of wartime sexual violence and a global campaigner against the use of rape as a weapon of war,” the Nobel Peace Prize website said.
He was drawn to medicine as a young boy after visiting victims with his father, who was a pastor, and quipping, ‘you can pray, I will give medicines’.
In a message to the humanitarian aid organisation this week, the board of the newspaper, through its acting chief executive, Ahmed Shekarau, said Sooliman was being recognised for his humanitarian work, which went beyond the boundaries of his home country, South Africa.
“Dr Sooliman emerged the winner out of a shortlist of 754 nominees in a rigorous selection process that took 36 days,” said Shekarau.
A panel chaired by former president of Botswana Festus Mogae, and consisting of executive chairperson of the AllAfrica Global Media Incorporated, Mr Amadou Mahtar Ba, The Namibian editor, Gwen Lister, a former Egyptian Ambassador and member of the Arab Council on Foreign Relations, Mona Omar Attia, and Pastor Rigobert Minani-Bihuzo, the founder of Group Jeremie, an NGO that promotes human rights and civic education in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the African Great Lakes Region, Mr Kabiru Abdullahi Yusuf, voted for Dr Sooliman.
Shekarau also expressed his condolences to the organisation after the killing of Ahmed Abbasi, the head of the aid organisation’s Gaza operation, who was killed during the bombardment by Israel in November.
Abbasi and his brother, Dr Mustafa Abbasi, had just completed their pre-drawn prayer at a local mosque when the building came under fire from the Israeli Defense Forces.
The Daily Trust is a subsidiary of the Media Trust Group, an integrated media company that owns Trust Television, Trust Radio, Trust Media Digital Hub, Aminiya (a Hausa-language weekly newspaper), and other media titles.
The Daily Trust African of the Year Award was instituted in 2008 to recognise ordinary Africans who are doing extraordinary work.
The awards ceremony is expected to be held in Abuja.