KIGALI, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Saturday awarded nine people the inaugural National Order of Outstanding Friendship, locally known as Igihango, for their contribution to Rwanda.
The recipients received the medals at a ceremony in the Rwandan capital Kigali.
Igihango is awarded to distinguished individuals who performed specific outstanding acts in promoting friendship and cooperation between Rwanda and other countries, as well as acts that promoted the dignity and honor of the Rwandan people and the country, on the international scene, according to Rwandan Minister of Culture Julienne Uwacu.
The recipients of the award include Israeli businessman Hezi Bezalel, American businessman and philanthropist Howard G. Buffett, Nigerian businessman and philanthropist Gilbert Chagoury, Canadian scientist John Dick, American anthropologist and physician Paul Farmer, Alain and Dafroza Gauthier who jointly have committed to bringing to justice those responsible for 1994's Rwandan genocide, British investigative journalist Linda Melvern and Joseph Ritchie, American businessman and founding CEO of Rwanda Development Board.
Kagame said at the event that Igihango is one of Rwanda's highest decoration of honour, adding that the recipients are most definitely an outstanding friend to Rwanda.
The purpose of awarding Igihango is to honour extraordinary contributions to Rwanda's national life, which serves to inspire young people to conduct their lives with the highest principles and ambitions, according to the president.
In Rwandan tradition, Igihango was the most solemn bond, that could unite two people, or two families. It was a freely chosen pact, based on truth and mutual sacrifice, which was unbreakable and lifelong, he said.
The ceremony will be a regular occurrence, the president said.