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Dina Forti

The Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo in

Dina Forti Awarded for:
Her dedication and excellent contribution to the field of science and medicine, locally and internationally; and for her contribution to the building of democracy in South Africa. She is an academic and a pioneer of transformation in democracy.

Profile of Dina Forti

Dina Forti was born to Italian parents in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1915. As a young woman, she worked in the International Relations Department of the Italian Communist Party, devoting herself to the struggle against fascism and colonialism. During the Second World War, she played a special role in the radio communication between the Italian Resistance Movement and the British troop command of the Allied Forces based in Jerusalem. After the war, Forti played a crucial part in the international relations office of the Italian Communist Party, responsible for developing and maintaining relations with African and Asian liberation movements.

Forti continuously exchanged information – in particular with the ANC, Frelimo, the MPLA, Partido Africano da Independência de Cabo Verde and Frente Revolucionária de Timor-Leste Independente – galvanising support for these organisations. Her contributions were instrumental in developing the anti-apartheid movement in Italy, involving democratic forces, political parties, trade unions and institutions such as the Italian Parliament, the different Italian governments and regional and local authorities. As a friend of the liberation movements in southern Africa, she visited Frelimo training camps in Tanzania in the late 1960s and also visited the liberated areas established by Frelimo in Cabo Delgado in Northern Mozambique.

Due to Forti’s professional and personal support to Italian and international liberation organisations, and her appreciated status as important interlocutor in South Africa’s liberation struggle, she regularly participated at special meetings with former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki and other prominent authorities during their visits to Italy before and after the end of the apartheid regime.

Forti spent four years (1977 to 1981) in Mozambique, officially assisting President Samora Machel in his relations with the United Nations and other international institutions. During her stay in Maputo, she strengthened her friendship with Ruth First, Joe Slovo and other ANC representatives in exile. Forti has maintained her relationships with many ANC leaders, as well as the former representatives of the organisation in Italy such as Anthony Mongalo, who also served as post-apartheid ambassador to Italy.

In 2005, Forti was awarded the honorary title of Grande Ufficiale Della Republica by the President of Italy in recognition of her role in the liberation struggle against the fascist regime.

Now wheelchair-bound and living in Rome, Forti’s support for and special friendship with South Africa remains as strong as ever.