Founded by legendary musician Nile Rodgers, the non-profit organization highlights, honors and mentors young leaders of tomorrow through programs like Three Dot Dash and TEDxTeen, while also paying homage to high-profile movers-and-shakers who have made a change in the world through the power of their art and charitable efforts.
“I look for honesty, integrity, commitment to a cause,” Rodgers told Billboard of some of the characteristics he admires in the foundation’s award recipients year after year, later adding “consistency, longevity and bravery.”
Among Friday night’s (Apr. 28) honorees were NBA Hall-of-Famer Dikembe Mutombo, who was given the Humanitarian Award, and a posthumous honor rewarded to Nelson Mandela (accepted by his grandson Ndaba) for the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Peacemaker Award.
“If it wasn’t for the support of family and friends from different walks of life,” said the “gentle giant” Mutombo during his acceptance speech, “I would not have accomplished what you have seen.” Some of the retired baller’s charitable efforts include work with UNICEF, the Special Olympics and the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation. He also opened a hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, named in honor of his mother, Biamba Marie Mutombo.
Ndaba Mandela is not only following in his grandfather’s footsteps by working to promote peace, he is also hoping that he can help groom the “next generation of Nelson Mandelas” and keep his grandfather’s legacy alive through the Africa Rising Foundation.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s in our hands to create a better Earth. It is in our hands,” he confidently stated.
Hip-hop supergroup A Tribe Called Quest was honored with the Unity Award, which “honors those in the public eye who have made tremendous efforts and inroads into making the human condition better around the world through their work as artists.”
“We put this up for Phife Dawg,” said ATCQ-member Q-Tip in front of the ample crowd while accepting their award. “It’s a great acknowledgement and one that we don’t take lightly.”