NWU honours Dr Imtiaz Ismail Sooliman for exceptional work
The North-West University’s (NWU’s) high standard for an honorary doctorate was recently met by an individual with extraordinary leadership traits who has made exceptional contributions towards cross-border and international cooperation. Dr Imtiaz Ismail Sooliman’s work speaks for itself and was awarded on 22 May 2019.
Dr Imtiaz Ismail Sooliman was born on 7 March 1962 in Potchefstroom in the North West province. He matriculated from Sastri College in Durban in 1978 and subsequently qualified as a medical practitioner at the University of Natal Medical School in 1984.
He started out in private practice in Pietermaritzburg. During 1994 he became engaged full-time in Gift of the Givers – a foundation he established on 6 August 1992. He developed the foundation into one of the world’s most respected humanitarian organisations. Africa can proudly define Gift of the Givers as the largest disaster response agency of African origin on the continent.
This exceptional man will be awarded an honorary doctorate by the NWU to acknowledge his outstanding contributions. Dr Sooliman met the high standards set by the NWU for awarding such a degree, and is also honoured for his exceptional merit in general leadership, organisational leadership and people skills. His extraordinary contributions involve social justice not only in South Africa, but across the globe.
Dr Sooliman’s name is honoured in the areas of disaster relief, basic services and medical services relief. He has also become renowned for the part he has played in blending business and leadership acumen with a zest for philanthropy.
Dr Sooliman has initiated 21 different categories of projects through Gift of the Givers, which has delivered R2,1 billion of aid to people in 43 countries, including South Africa.
He enriched his career by designing and developing the world’s first and only containerised mobile hospital in 1993. It was deployed in Bosnia and appraised by CNN as one of the best hospitals in Europe.
Gift of the Givers was the first foundation to receive R60 million from a government to put together and roll out 204 000 food parcels. Dr Sooliman’s innovative groundnut-soya high-energy and protein supplement – a first globally – has played a major role in the treatment of HIV/Aids, TB, malnutrition, cancer and various other debilitating conditions. Africa’s largest open-source computer lab was also developed by him in 2007.
Dr Sooliman’s exceptional work has been profiled extensively in multiple media, both locally and internationally, including profiles on CNN’s African Voices (2011), eNCA’s Movers and Shakers (2013) and SABC3’s 21 Icons.
His list of awards includes 121 individual and organisational awards, and his work has been recognised and mentioned in Parliament. The awards include four presidential awards.
They are the President’s Order of the Star of South Africa from President FW de Klerk (1993) – the highest civilian award in the country and the Pietermaritzburg City Council Civic Commendation Award from President Nelson Mandela for outstanding community service (1997). The other two presidential awards are the Order of the Grand Counsellor of the Baobab: Silver from President Jacob Zuma for his excellent contribution through Gift of the Givers to humanitarian aid nationally and internationally (2010), and the Presidential Award Tamgha-i-Eisaar from the President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, for aid rendered after the Pakistan earthquake.
Dr Sooliman received seven honorary doctorates from various universities, as well as 11 other awards. The foundation has been singled out by Parliament for its response to disasters in general and to the Haiti earthquake in particular. It has also received a motion of congratulations from the Parliament of South Africa for the Somalia relief mission.
Accolades from government include the SA Navy Award for Outstanding Humanitarian Service; the Convocation Award from the University of KwaZulu-Natal; the eThekwini Municipality Living Legends Award; the Social Responsibility Award from the SAPS Mountain Rise for contributing positively to the “United Fight Against Crime”, and various other acknowledgments.
In recognition of his contribution through Gift of the Givers, the Post Office issued the Limited Edition Gift of the Givers stamp in February 2014, and in the same year a book, A Mercy to All, on Dr Sooliman and Gift of the Givers was published.
This incredible man’s international awards include the Outstanding Service to Mostar (Bosnia) Award; the Pakistan-South Africa Friendship Award; the Pakistan Military Award for relief during the Pakistan earthquake; the Gujarat City and Pakistan Muslim League for Pakistan Earthquake Award; the International Lawyers Forum Award; the HIV/AIDS Service Delivery Award and the the Diversity Leader Award Malawi.
Other international awards include the Club Maritimo 100-year medal for work during the Portugal flood; the Sheikh Yusuf al Qardawi Award for Service to Palestine, and the prestigious Global Citizen Award by the international citizenship advisory firm Henley & Partners. Other awards pertain to the fields of religion, culture, business, health, sport and publications.
Not only is it an honour for the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences of the NWU to have nominated Dr Sooliman for an honorary doctorate for his contributions to civil society, but the university is proud to associate itself with Dr Sooliman as one of the biggest humanitarians of the 21st century.
Dr Imtiaz Ismail Sooliman