Dr. Imtiaz Sooliman Emerges as the 2023 Daily Trust African of the Year from Africa

Dr. Imtiaz Sooliman, a South African altruist, has emerged as the 2023 Daily Trust African of the Year. Dr. Sooliman, a medical doctor who gave up his career to pursue the field of humanitarian aid, which for him transcends the boundaries of race, religion, culture, class and geography, was chosen out of nine finalists drawn from a list of 736 nominations received at the end of the first phase of the selection process for the award in October, 2023.

The six-member Selection Board of the Daily Trust African of the Year, which was chaired by the Executive Chairman of AllAfrica Global Media Incorporated, Mr. Amadou Mahtar Ba, in acting capacity, announced the emergence of the medical doctor as the winner today, Friday, December 1, 2023, following a virtual meeting of the Board held on November 20, 2023.

A press release issued by the Secretariat of the Daily Trust African of the Year Award said, “after careful consideration of the works of the nine finalists, the Selection Board has unanimously decided that Dr. Imtiaz Sooliman, a South African medical doctor who gave up his career to pursue the field of humanitarian aid, is the deserving winner of the 2023 African of the Year Award”.

The release, signed by the Ag. Group Chief Executive Officer of the Media Trust Group, Ahmed I. Shekarau, described Dr Sooliman as “a worthy and exemplary humanitarian, characterised by his solid belief in the common humanity that unites people of the world.

“He has guided the Gift of the Givers Foundation for more than 30 years to respond to and dispatch humanitarian and medical supplies to disaster areas on the continent and abroad”, the statement added.

The statement explained further that Dr Sooliman and his relief workers have since 1992 identified with, and provided relief materials wherever disasters strike. “From the provision of food parcels in impoverished communities in South Africa to search and rescue teams and medical specialists in response to natural and man-made disasters, Gift of the Givers has shown commitment to alleviating human sufferings in varying contexts”.

It cited examples of the Foundation’s interventions in Turkey, shortly after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake of 6th February, 2023; the provision of food parcels, potable water, mattresses, clothing and hygiene packs to community members affected by the devastating flooding in Komani (formerly Queenstown) in Eastern Cape of South Africa, in February, 2023; as well as notable interventions in Libya, in the wake of the distressing flooding of September 11, 2023 in Shahhat City.

The Gift of Givers has since the outbreak of the October 7, 2023 war in Gaza Strip equally been providing humanitarian support to victims, resulting in the killing of the head of its relief workers in the Region, Ahmed Abbasi, on the 16th of November, 2023.

The Daily Trust African of the Year Award Selection Board members, after reviewing the credentials of the nine Africans who made it to the final round of the selection process, unanimously agreed that Dr Sooliman met all the criteria and is most deserving of the award.

The nine finalists included Qabale Duba, a Kenyan Nurse/Epidemiologist by profession, who is using the Qabale Duba Foundation to educate nomadic pastoralist communities in Northern Kenya; and Tatenda Ndambakuwa, a Zimbabwean Mathematician and Urban Planner, who is passionate about ending hunger, and is using her organization called Shiri, a digital platform, to connect farmers to critical resources like weather updates, market prices, and farming tips.

Also among the finalists is Dr. Ola Orekunrin, a Nigerian medical doctor and helicopter pilot, who founded the Flying Doctors Nigeria, West Africa’s first Air Ambulance Service, which she uses to take trauma care to the most remote parts of West Africa.

About the Daily Trust African of the Year Award

The African of the Year Award project was instituted in 2008 by Daily Trust, one of Nigeria’s leading independent newspapers, in line with its commitment to African unity and sustainable development, to recognize and reward annually, an exemplary African who has made extra-ordinary contributions to human development in any part of the continent, and in any sphere of human endeavour. Africans who have distinguished themselves in their various walks of life or do charity projects that are of positive impact to the continent’s people have since then been recognised for the award.

Congolese medical doctor, Denis Mukwege is the first African of the Year award winner in 2008. Exactly 10 years after the Daily Trust recognition, Dr. Mukwege won the Noble Peace Prize in 2018, for his wonderful work of treating women who had been abused and raped in his war-torn country.

The award winner is selected by the six-member pan-African committee chaired by His Excellency, Dr. Mogae. Other members of the Advisory Board/Prize Committee are: Ambassador Ms. Mona Omar Attia (North Africa), Ms. Gwen Lister (Southern Africa), Mr. Amadou Mahtar Ba (West Africa), Pastor Rigobert Bihuzo Minani (Central Africa), and Mr. Kabiru A. Yusuf, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Media Trust Group, who represents the award promoters on the Selection Board.

The award comes with a cash prize, and the presentation of the 2023 award will be done during the Daily Trust Dialogue in January, 2024.

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