I was doing a little research, looking for the top 10 most famous South Africans & found it quite difficult to choose a top 10, especially out of the many amazing (and not so amazing) South Africans out there.
Then there’s the question, what is famous & is the person famous (or infamous) from a South African point of view or an international point of view.
Thuli Madonsela was crowned as the most influential South African for 2013 by Time magazine but most of the international world have no clue who she is, Malema is always all over our news stream but is it the same from an international point of view & then we have good old Oscar, do we even want him on our list?
So here’s a top 10… according to the internet… so it must be true.
1. Jan Van Riebeeck (1619-1667) – OK, so this guy is Dutch, not South African, but he makes the list as he was the founder of Cape Town, which makes him pretty famous. Van Riebeeck was an explorer and originally ‘discovered’ South Africa in 1652. It was the foundation of Cape Town that started an influx of Dutch settlers to South Africa. I guess you could say he founded the Dutch South Africa.
2. Sid James (1913-1976) – Sid James was one of those old school comedians/actors/jack of all trades. He made his name as Tony Hancock’s co-star in ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ but will always be remembered for his work on Carry On films. He was known for his ‘dirty laugh’. He was also known for being a dirty man too.
3. Nelson Mandela (1918- 2013) – You don’t get more famous than Mandiba (that’s what we call him here). Nelson Mandela is the Father of the Nation, a real leader. Mandela was the first black president and the first democratically elected president of South Africa in 1994. Words can’t praise him enough. Absolute hero…
4. Desmond Tutu (1931-) – Desmond Tutu rose to fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. He became the first black South African Archbishop of Cape Town and is one of the most recognised figures in religion worldwide. Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 and the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2005. He has done loads to promote world peace, hence the mention.
5. Francois Pienaar (1967-) – Pienaar was a distinctly average rugby player who did amazing things for his country. He became the first South African captain to lift the Rugby World Cup in 1995. It was hosted in South Africa, so people were pretty pleased that they won.
6. Dave Matthews (1967-) – He is in a good band . A very good band. They call themselves ‘The Dave Matthews Band’, which isn’t a very original name. They are their own particular brand of ‘travel rock’ and definitely worth a listen.
7. Ernie Els (1969-) – Ernie Els is a professional golfer who has been at the top of his game since the 1990s. He used to be number one in the world long before Tiger Woods could even hold a club (probably). He is a pretty chilled character, and big too, hence his nickname ‘The Big Easy’. He is in the ‘World Golf Hall of Fame’.
8. Johnty Rhodes (1969-) – A cricket who literally sprang up everywhere. Wasn’t particularly good at batting or bowling (which is predominately what you should be good at in cricket), but he was amazing at fielding. Regarded as the greatest fielder in the history of the sport. Watch his run-out of Inzamam ul Huq – absolute classic.
9. Charlize Theron (1975-) – A Hollywood starlet. She’s famous for ‘The Devil’s Advocate’ and ‘The Cider House Rules’, and won critical acclaim and countless awards for her wacky portrayal of a serial killer in ‘Monster’, becoming the first South African to win an Academy Award. Good looking too…
10. The Big-Bang Club (1990-1994) – A group of four photographers who tried to change people’s perceptions of South Africa and to raise awareness of the horrors of the apartheid through photography. The four photographers were Kevin Carter, Greg Marinovich, Ken Oosterbroek, and Joao Silva, two of whom won the Pulitzer Prize. A film is now being made about them – keep an eye-out.
So there we have it, the 10 most famous South Africans… according to the internet. Do you have anyone else who you think needs to be on this list?