The British Honours System is a centuries-old structure established by the British monarchy to recognize and reward exceptional individual achievement, bravery, and service to the United Kingdom. Among several Orders of Honour, the Knighthood is easily one of the oldest and most-coveted decorations from the British monarchy, with male and female recipients of the honor attaching the title “Sir” and “Dame” to their names, respectively.
The list of awardees for the knighthood and other honours, including the MBE and OBE, is customarily released twice a year on New Year’s Day (known as the New Year Honours List) and on the Queen of England’s birthday.
After a recent period that witnessed a noticeable fall in the number of persons of Black or African ancestry being recognized by the British Honours System and complaints about the lack of diversity among the list of awardees, the 2017 New Year Honours List appears to be an improvement on previous years.
To celebrate this year’s honourees and those who have come before them, Face2Face Africa takes a look at five notable Africans who have been knighted by the Queen of England.