Professor Benjamin Hendrickx of the Department of Greek and Latin Studies at the University of Johannesburg was recently awarded a knighthood in the Belgian Order of the Crown.
King Albert ll of Belgium conferred the title of Kommandeur in de Kroonorde on Prof Hendrickx for his outstanding research and achievements in the field of Byzantine Studies and African history. His research has extended the boundaries of knowledge that opened up new areas of research for post-graduate students internationally.
Professor Hendrickx was honoured by Greece in 2008 with the title of Commander in the Legion of Honour for his contribution to research on Greek culture and history. This is the highest distinction, that the Greek State bestows on intellectuals.
Professor Benjamin Hendrickx told the Johannesburg Star that when he moved to South Africa in 1971 he began examining the continent’s medieval history: “When I came here I didn’t know much about ancient Africa except for Egypt and Ethiopia. When I started looking I found a lot of work on African countries such as Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and right down to Mozambique. After that I started writing about Europe and Africa.”
Hendrickx’s research, which includes nearly four hundred books, articles and book reviews, focusses on the the similarities between south-east Europe and north-east Africa, such as the establishment of Christianity in regions like Egypt and Ethiopia.
He adds, “Africa should be proud of its history. If the continent understands the influence it had and the role it played that would positively influence the relations it has with the rest of the world.”