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Ambassador Thandi Lujabe-Rankoe

The Order of Luthuli in

Ambassador Thandi Lujabe-Rankoe Awarded for:
Her excellent contribution to the fight for the liberation of the people of South Africa. She did outstanding work in raising awareness on repression in South Africa and mobilised support for those who were facing the apartheid security forces inside South Africa daily.
Ambassador Thandi Lujabe-Rankoe was the African National Congress’s (ANC) Chief Representative in Oslo, Norway, from 1988 to 1994.

Her vast experience contributed to her success, having represented the ANC in various roles, lobbied the churches, trade unions such as the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions, political parties and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as the Fellesridet for det sarlige Afrika (the Norwegian Council on Southern Africa) and Artists Against Apartheid in support of the people of South Africa against the apartheid government.

She coordinated various projects within the ANC structures, especially within the ANC Women’s League, of which she was chairperson in Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Lujabe-Rankoe also served as the personal secretary of ANC stalwart Oliver Tambo in Lusaka, Zambia.

Her international organisational experience began with the United Nations (UN) Development Programme, where she was programme coordinator for scholarships for ANC and South West African People’s Organisation students.

Thereafter, she coordinated various projects working for NORAD in Botswana and the Norsk Folkehjelp (Norwegian People’s AID) in Zimbabwe.

As one of the first black women ambassadors and career diplomats in South Africa, she has represented her country and people in Tanzania, Botswana and Mozambique (1995-2009), and started the first South African High Commission in Tanzania in 1995. She returned to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s Academy to train the next generation of South African diplomats.

Lujabe-Rankoe is widely acknowledged for her strong negotiating, lobbying and administrative skills. Throughout her career, she excelled at forming relations with leaders in government, business and NGOs in order to achieve transformation.

In her capacity as Ambassador to Mozambique, she worked with a number of key African institutions, including the Southern African Development Community and the African Union, as well as with leading international organisations such as the European Union and some UN agencies.

She has drawn extensively on her personal experience in the remarkable body of work she has produced over the past 25 years. She wrote articles on child labour in Africa, which were published by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in 1987. Her next work, ANC History Booklet 1912-1991, was published in Oslo, Norway in December 1991.

Her poignant and highly inspirational autobiography, A Dream Fulfilled: Memoirs of an African Diplomat, was first published in South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Lesotho and Botswana in July 2006.

In her recent book, Two Nations, One Vision, she recounts her experiences during her years as High Commissioner to Mozambique. In many respects, Lujabe-Rankoe was instrumental in ensuring the outstanding support of the Norwegian people and their financial contribution to the struggle for liberation of South Africa.