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Dr Riccardo Sarra (Italy)

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

Dr Riccardo Sarra (Italy) Awarded for:
His consistent contribution to the fight for the liberation of the people of South Africa and the Southern African region. He has nurtured and encouraged cooperation between Italian and South African institutions over a long period.
Dr Riccardo Sarra has been South African Honorary Consul in Florence, Italy, for 26 years. He has earned three doctorates – in Engineering, Economics and Law.

He has been President of the Italian Budget Control Commission, a very important public position which controls company accounts. He was a member of the auditing commission and an official auditor.

His company is the largest wholesale jewellery firm in the North of Italy. He has been President of the Lions Club in Florence and for several years a city councillor of one of the cultural capitals of Europe.

He was made Honorary Consul in 1991 and has been unstinting and unfailing in his support, help and promotion of South Africa for the past 27 years.

In 1992 he was part of the initiative to fund a competition for young Italian and South African jewellery designers called Gioie Novelle and served as judge in the panel where scholarships in jewellery design were awarded to winners from both countries.

He was the go-between for the appointment of Prof Giovanni Sartori, possibly Italy’s most prominent constitutional author, constitutional philosopher and a profound influence on participatory democracy.

Sarra persuaded Sartori to join the Technical Committee in South Africa for the establishment of the Interim Constitution. Throughout this period of 27 years, Sarra has received and introduced several South African Ministers and personalities to the authorities in Florence and the Tuscany region.

In 2000 the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) invited Sarra to South Africa to write an official report on the manufacture and marketing of jewellery made in South Africa. He visited all the jewellery design studios and plants to study the methods and the marketing of the South African products. His report for the dti proposed a way forward and made recommendations as to what the nascent industry in South Africa should concentrate on for future success.

Sarra has been a full participant in the Nelson Mandela Forum initiatives. The forum’s priority is to liaise with similar peace foundations and maintain a strong link with South Africa.

He was the go-between for the painting of the entrance of the Nelson Mandela Forum on 17 November 2010 by the Ndebele artist, Mama Esther Mahlangu, creating a mural with traditional Ndebele colours.

Florence also hosted two international rugby matches Italy-Springboks in 2009 and 2017, at which Sarra hosted lunches to introduce South African dignitaries to the President of the Region, the Mayor and Tuscan dignitaries. In 2014 he presided over the naming of a school in honour of Nelson Mandela in Pisa.