The UCT Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Leadership in Africa is made to individuals who have made contributions to Africa through sustained and visionary leadership. The award is a replica in bronze of one of seven ceramic heads dating from the ninth century.
In December 2011, the honour was conferred on Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, only the second recipient of the award. Described by former President Nelson Mandela as "sometimes strident, often tender, never afraid and seldom without humour", Tutu has been a spokesperson against international social ills, such as civil wars, corruption, non-democratic governments, poverty, HIV/AIDS and TB, and human-rights abuses . The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate also has numerous associations with UCT, including an honorary doctorate in law presented to him in 1993.
In 2004 the award was conferred on former president Thabo Mbeki for the lifelong pioneering role he has played in the struggle against apartheid and his inspiring example of disciplined study and hard work under challenging circumstances. He is acknowledged for his far-sighted vision of an African Renaissance, and for seeing that South Africa's stability is inextricably linked with that of the African continent as a whole. His vision of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) and its strategy to create a more mutually beneficial basis for economic interaction between Africa and the developed nations was far-sighted and in service to Africa and all its citizens.