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French knighthood for Indian-origin art enthusiast in S Africa

Press Trust of India  |  Johannesburg 

An Indian-origin art lover and playwright in has been knighted by the French government for his lifelong devotion to the promotion of arts.

Ismail Mahomed was bestowed with 'The Chevalier de l'Ordredes Arts etLettres'(Knight of the Order of Arts and Literature) by French Ambassador ElisabetBarbier.

Expressing his delight at the recognition, Mahomed said he had "an immense love for Paris."

"I am alwaysovercome with emotion when I stop at the Dulcie September Boulevard. Paris was a home to many of our exiles," Mahomed said.

"I remain grateful to France because it still is a home to many South African artists - RobynOrlin, Steven Cohen, VincentMantsoeand many more. France celebrates the South African artists who live there and it memorialises those who died there," he said.

Established in 1957, theknighthoodis bestowedon people fortheirsignificant contributions to French culture through arts and literature.

OtherSouth Africans who have received this distinction include artists GerardSekotoand WilliamKentridge, musician Johnny Clegg, and filmmaker RamadanSuleman.

Mahomed has a long standing relationship with France and has brokered several collaborations between South African and French artists.

Acknowledging his work, Barbiermade special mention of hisleadership during the bilateral French-South African Seasons in 2014 and 2015.

Currently the Artistic Director of the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, Mahomed has received numerous other awards in his 30-year career, including a MeritHonourAward from the US State Department's Bureau for consistent high cultural programming.

In 1999, he received thePremier's Awardfor developing and promoting the arts and culture sector as an economic enterprise inthe South African province of Mpumalanga.

First Published: Tue, February 23 2016. 13:13 IST