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25% of SA Icons to date have been Jewish




The late Prof Phillip Tobias was yesterday named as the sixteenth Icon to have his poster published in the Sunday Times and a short film on him shown on TV as part of a series of 21 Icons South Africa. He joins Nadine Gordimer, Johnny Clegg and William Kentridge – making it four out of 16, or 25 percent, of those named so far, as Jewish.

The series has kept the names of the 21 locked away tightly until publication dates. This means that there could still be more Jews among the five still to be named.

Tobias et al join other esteemed Icons such as Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk, Desmond Tutu, Sophia Williams De Bruyn, Kumi Naidoo, Lillian Cingo, Ahmed Kathrada, George Bizos, Hugh Masekela, Helen Sebidi, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Gary Player who have been named to date.

The 21 Icons Project is “based on the belief that, in each of us, lies the potential to act as catalysts for profoundly positive changes to our world,” they say on their website.

“Through sharing the remarkable stories of people who have devoted their lives to struggle for the greater good of mankind, it is hoped that new generations can be inspired to follow in the proud footsteps of these iconic men and women.”

“We all have the potential to be a Nelson Mandela, a Desmond Tutu.” It is this simple yet powerful vision that has driven photographer and filmmaker Adrian Steirn to create the 21 Icons South Africa project. Through a series of short films and black-and-white photographic portraits, we are taken on a remarkable journey that explores the goodness of the human spirit. It shows how ordinary people have, quite simply, become extraordinary.

The project was inspired by the many people who have contributed to the success story that is South Africa today – people like Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and FW de Klerk. However it doesn’t stop there. There are many other remarkable men and women who have contributed significantly to turning South Africa into the ‘Rainbow Nation.’

These include statesmen, artists, academics, musicians, human rights activists, lawyers, businessmen and athletes. They come from all walks of life and it is their inspiring stories that Adrian Steirn and the 21 Icons team has captured through photography, film and narrative. By sharing these stories with the world the 21 Icons team hopes to achieve its vision – to inspire the leaders of tomorrow.

21 Icons South Africa celebrates the lives of 21 extraordinary South Africans who have captured the global imagination with their dignity, humanity, hard work and selfless struggle for a better world.

“The list of 21 Icons is neither definitive nor ranked in any order,” says their website, “they are people who have reached the pinnacle of achievement in their fields of endeavour.”


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