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Brothers For Life Fets Its Men of the Year – South Africa’s Unsung Heroes

Brothers for Life, the movement that aims to get men to live healthier and more responsible lives, has honoured its Men of the Year: a group of ordinary, yet exceptional, South African men.

A six-month partnership between Brothers for Life and SABC Education resulted in scores of men being nominated for the honour by people in their communities, during a series of health- and lifestyle-related shows on 11 SABC radio stations.

The nominations were whittled down to 40 men from all over South Africa - each one of them an ordinary member of his community, but responsible for extraordinary service to that community. Among other things, they champion the fight against gender-based violence and diseases such as HIV/AIDS; they help others to be educated and find a career; they provide a much-needed service in their community, without the expectation of rewards; or they simply set an inspirational example to those around them.

All 40 men gathered at a Kempton Park Hotel on Friday, 18 November 2011, where during a glittering function they were all honoured as Men of the Year.

Speaking at the event, Bob Phato, chairperson of the Men's Sector of the South African National AIDS Council, said before handing out certificates to the men: "The great thing is that they do what they do not for the recognition, but because they are fathers, husbands, brothers and leaders."

The guest of honour, Deputy Minister of Communications Stella Thembisa Ndabeni, told the gathering during her keynote speech that an initiative such as Brothers for Life offered proof that partnerships between civil society and government do work.

She also paid tribute to the men being honoured, saying: "I congratulate all the heroes who receive awards tonight."

Brothers for Life project manager Mandla Ndlovu echoed the deputy minister's sentiments, when he said to applause: "I'm really proud to be in a room full of these men today."

Ndlovu also harked back to the launch in August 2009 of Brothers for Life, when the late Deputy Minister of Health Dr Molefi Sefularo had challenged Brothers for Life to reach men in every corner of South Africa.

"I would like to think that the deputy minister would be proud of what we have done so far," said Ndlovu - adding that Sefularo would no doubt like to see even more being done among the country's men.

Several well-known South Africans were also honoured for their role as celebrity ambassadors for Brothers for Life, including rugby players John Smit, Tiger Mangweni and Bandisa Maku, as well as musician Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse, who also provided musical entertainment for the evening. Phato was also feted for the support he has given to Brothers for Life.