President Cyril Ramaphosa has bestowed the 2018 National Orders awards on distinguished local citizens and eminent foreign nationals at an awards ceremony held at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse on Saturday.During the ceremony, Ramaphosa conferred the Order of Ikhamanga, the Order of the Baobab, the Order of Luthuli, and the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo to the deserving recipients.The list of 40 honorees include retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, actress Lillian Dube and former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.In his address, Ramaphosa said the national orders were a recognition of the many outstanding individuals who defied great odds to make an immense contribution in various spheres of life. "Our freedom opened windows of opportunity for many to chase their dreams, to excel, to succeed, and in so doing to inspire others to reach beyond what they imagined possible. "We dedicate this year’s ceremony to the memory of former president Nelson Mandela, who, more than any other, embodied the spirit and the intent of these orders," he said.Speaking of the Order of Ikhamanga, which is awarded to South Africans who have excelled in the field of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sport, Ramaphosa said the honours were bestowed on some of the country’s most dedicated and outstanding athletes, musicians, artists and performers. "We honour people who have chronicled both the suffering of our people and their remarkable triumphs, their fears and their hopes, their everyday cares and their timeless desires. "We pay tribute to those who have faced adversity, who have conquered doubt, who have used the exceptional gifts that they have been given not for their own glory, but to celebrate the splendour of human endeavour," he said.'A roll call of heroes and heroines'Ramaphosa said the Order of the Baobab was awarded to South African citizens for distinguished service in the fields of business and the economy, science, medicine, and for technological innovation and community service.Read: Ramaphosa to bestow National Orders on 'exceptional' South Africans"These people – some of whom have sadly left us – are pioneers who laid the path along which others would follow," he said."These are people who challenge prejudice, who fight for people living with disabilities or who are otherwise marginalised by the circumstances of their birth."These are people who use their knowledge and their capabilities, their ideas and their energy, to forge a South Africa defined by solidarity, community and progress."Ramaphosa said the Order of Luthuli was awarded to South Africans who have served the interests of South Africa, by making a meaningful contribution in the struggle for democracy, human rights, nation-building, justice, peace and conflict resolution. "They are the peacemakers, who walk into battle armed only with the conviction that there is no dispute, no disagreement that cannot be settled through dialogue," he said.WATCH: Legendary actress Lillian Dube speaks of her Order of Ikhamanga in silver that was bestowed on her by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the #NationalOrders ceremony in Tshwane. Says she is glad she was honoured during her lifetime. #NationalOrders2018 pic.twitter.com/CfCjAaDeZ4— SA Gov News (@SAgovnews) April 28, 2018 The president also acknowledged the devout support from the international community, through the awarding of the Order of the Companions of Oliver Tambo in Gold to four former Heads of State, Excellencies Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Sam Nujoma of Namibia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and the late Sir Ketumile Masire of Botswana."We also honour those remarkable human beings who stood alongside our people, at home and in exile, who provided material and other assistance to our students, activists and combatants. "In doing so, we express our sincere and eternal gratitude to them for joining a struggle that was not theirs, in a land far from their own, and for giving so much, for so long, to so many," he said.Ramaphosa also acknowledged Ambassador Alexander Sergeevich Dsasokhov and Dr Slava Tetekin of Russia and Ms Rosita Johnson of the United States."We wish to congratulate all those who are to be honoured today. "This is a roll call of heroes and heroines, of people who have been prepared to devote their talent, their energy, their lives to the affirmation and the advancement of others," he said.