Three formidable Nelson Mandela Bay residents were honoured at the annual Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) Council Prestige Awards for their immense contribution to the community. Two of the recipients hail from Uitenhage, the late unionist and workers’ rights activist Phumzile John Gomomo and former NMMU Council member Cumngce Gawe. The third recipient was internationally renowned motivational speaker Alison Botha. Gomomo - ‘father’ of NUMSAPhumzile John Gomomo attended Marymount High School in Uitenhage, but left school in Grade 8 and later completed his matric through correspondence courses. In 1963, he joined Volkswagen of South Africa and was assisted by the company to study Labour Relations at the former University of Port Elizabeth, now Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.His early understanding of South African political and social challenges was greatly enhanced through his association with the workers’ struggle. In the early 70’s he emerged as one of the prominent leaders of workers and served the trade union with distinction.During 1987 a number of metal workers’ unions came together to form the National Union of Metalworkers in South Africa (NUMSA). Gomomo led these unity talks that produced one of the biggest unions in South Africa and the largest metalworkers’ union in Africa.Gomomo was not self-centered, ambitious nor a careerist and always associated himself with the toiling masses as a true servant of the people. Sadly on 22 January 2008 he met his untimely death at Cuyler Hospital in Uitenhage. For his dedication and unwavering commitment in addressing the rights of workers, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University posthumously presented Phumzile John Gomomo with the Council Prestige Award.Gawe - man of many accomplishmentsFormer Uitenhage mayor, Cumngce Gawe (77) was lauded for his loyalty and dedication to the University and its predecessors over the years, through his long and sustained involvement with the institution.Gawe has worked in both the public and private sector over the years and enjoyed an illustrious career peppered with many accomplishments. He has served on numerous business committees and councils, including the Eastern Cape Black Management Forum (BMF) Executive and Riebeek College Governing Council.He has had a long-standing association with the University and was present at the signing of the historic Memorandum of Agreement leading to the merger between the Port Elizabeth Technikon, University of Port Elizabeth (UPE) and Vista University (Port Elizabeth Campus) in 2003. He was elected to serve on NMMU’s interim council in 2005 and then served as an Alumni Association member to the University Council from 2005 to 2016. During his tenure as Council member, Gawe was elected deputy chairperson for every term of office that he served. He tendered his resignation in February this year owing to ill health.Alison Botha - woman of courageAlison Botha is renowned the world over for her incredible story of miraculously surviving a horrendous abduction and rape ordeal, in which she was stabbed multiple times, disembowelled and left for dead.The manner in which she survived, her inner strength and determination, her lack of bitterness and her serenity and humility captured the attention of South Africa and the world. Alison was awarded the prestige Rotarian Paul Harris Award for ‘Courage Beyond the Norm’ and she was the first recipient of Femina magazine’s ‘Woman of Courage’ award as well as being chosen as Port Elizabeth’s Citizen of the Year.