Who are the top 100 Greatest South African to ever live?


Next year marks 10yrs since the last vote for South Africa’s greatest South Africans. Isn’t it time we updated our list?  In September 2004, thousands of South Africans took part in an informal nationwide poll to determine the “100 Greatest South Africans” of all time. South Africa’s list was obviously topped by Nelson Mandela, if votes had to done again, that might stay stay the same, but I’m certain the other 99 would definitely be a whole new story.

Votes were cast by telephone, SMS, and the website of the state-run South African Broadcasting Corporation television channel, SABC3, which aired a series of profiles and documentaries in the weeks leading up to the announcement of the top 100. Today we have Twitter and Facebook in addition to that. How votes were cast actually kind of contributes to the controversy around the 100 list.  Hendrick Verwwoerd, the “Architect of Apartheid”, ranked higher on the list than Albert Luthuli, South Africa’s first Nobel Peace laureate, or Chris Hani, a famous anti-apartheid activist. Also present on the list was Eugene Terre’blanche, the head of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging. The obviously became a huge problem with South African, but the definition of the “greatest South African” allowed this.

This is how the list for Greatest South Africans looked 9 years ago (as provided by wikipedia), how much more different do you think it would look if votes had to be cast again?

1. Nelson Mandela, first president of post-Apartheid South Africa and joint Nobel Peace Prize winner (1918 – )
2. Christiaan Barnard, pioneering heart transplant surgeon (1922–2001)
3. F. W. de Klerk, former president and joint Nobel Peace Prize winner (1936 – )
4. Mahatma Gandhi, political activist (1869–1948)
5. Nkosi Johnson, child who died of AIDS (1989–2001)
6. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, politician and 2nd wife of Nelson Mandela (1936 – )
7. Thabo Mbeki, second president of post-Apartheid South Africa (1942 – )
8. Gary Player, golfer (1936 – )
9. Jan Smuts, statesman (1870–1950)
10. Desmond Tutu, cleric and Nobel Peace Prize winner (1931 – )
11. Hansie Cronje, cricketer (1969–2002)
12. Charlize Theron, actress and Academy Award winner (1975 – )
13. Steve Biko, nonviolent political activist (1946–1977)
14. Shaka, founder of the Zulu nation (1787–1828)
15. Mangosuthu Buthelezi, politician and a Zulu prince (1928 – )
16. Tony Leon, politician (1956 – )
17. Brenda Fassie, singer (1964–2004)
18. Mark Shuttleworth, Web entrepreneur, founder of Thawte, distributor of Ubuntu Linux and second fee paying space tourist (1973 – )
19. Hendrik Verwoerd, former prime minister and primary architect of Apartheid (1901–1966)
20. Chris Hani, political activist who was Secretary General of the SACP when he was assassinated (1942–1993)
21. Bonginkosi Dlamini, also known as “Zola”, poet, actor and musician (1977 – )
22. Patricia de Lille, politician (1951 – )
23. Johnny Clegg, also known as “The White Zulu”, musician (1953 – )
24. Helen Suzman, stateswoman (1917–2009)
25. Eugène Terre’Blanche founder of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (1941–2010)
26. Pieter-Dirk Uys political satirist and entertainer (1945 – )
27. Paul Kruger, four times president of South African Republic (1825–1904)
28. Anton Rupert, businessman and environmentalist (1916–2006)
29. Jonty Rhodes, cricketer (1969 – )
30. Leon Schuster, filmmaker, comedian, actor and prankster (entertainer)
31. Oliver Tambo, political activist who spent 30 years in exile (1917–1993)
32. Steve Hofmeyr, musician and actor
33. Walter Sisulu, political activist (1912–2003)
34. Cyril Ramaphosa, politician and businessman
35. J. R. R. Tolkien, author (wrote Lord of the Rings) (1892–1973)
36. Beyers Naude, cleric and anti-apartheid activist (1915–2004)
37. Ernie Els, golfer (1969 – )
38. Miriam Makeba, musician (1932–2008)
39. Patrice Motsepe, businessman
40. Trevor Manuel, civil engineer, minister of finance and politician
41. Albert Luthuli, cleric, politician and 1960 Nobel Peace Prize winner († 1967)
42. Robert Sobukwe, former political activist and founder of the PAC (1924–1978)
43. Tokyo Sexwale, politician and businessman
44. Danny Jordaan, politician and soccer administrator
45. Fatima Meer, scientist and political activist
46. Ahmed Kathrada, political activist
47. Joe Slovo, communist politician (1926–1995)
48. Natalie du Toit, disabled olympic swimmer
49. Jomo Sono, soccer coach
50. Francois Pienaar, captain of the Springboks, the winning team in the 1995 Rugby World Cup
51. John Kani, actor, entertainer and writer
52. Penny Heyns, olympic swimmer
53. Jeremy Mansfield, radio and TV personality
54. Lucas Radebe, former Bafana Bafana and Leeds United soccer captain
55. Mamphela Ramphele, political activist, academic, businesswoman and mother to the son of Steve Biko
56. Cecil Rhodes, businessman (1853–1902)
57. Albertina Sisulu, political activist and wife of Walter Sisulu (1919–2011 )
58. Aggrey Klaaste, journalist and editor who advocated Nation Building during the struggle years
59. Alan Paton, author (1903–1988)
60. Harry Oppenheimer, businessman (1908–2000)
61. Zackie Achmat, HIV positive AIDS activist and critic of government AIDS policies
62. Doctor Khumalo, soccer player
63. Jan van Riebeeck, first colonial administrator (1619–1677)
64. Bruce Fordyce, ultra-marathon runner
65. Enoch Sontonga, teacher, lay-preacher and composer wrote “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika”
66. Zola Budd, athlete (1966 – )
67. Sol Plaatje, journalist and political activist (1877–1932)
68. Danie Craven, rugby player and administrator (1910–1994)
69. Alan Boesak, cleric and politician
70. Felicia Mabuza-Suttle, talk show host, public speaker and businesswoman
71. Yvonne Chaka Chaka, musician
72. “Baby” Jakes Matlala, boxer and junior flyweight champion
73. Kaizer Motaung, founder of Kaizer Chiefs Football Club
74. Basetsana Kumalo, former Miss South Africa, presenter and businesswoman
75. Antjie Krog, poet, novelist and playwright
76. Dullah Omar, politician
77. Mandoza, musician
78. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, politician and former wife of Jacob Zuma
79. Raymond Ackerman, businessman
80. Nadine Gordimer, 1991 Nobel Prize-winning author (1923 – )
81. Daniel François Malan, former Prime Minister responsible for laying the groundwork for Apartheid (1874–1959)
82. Frederik van Zyl Slabbert, politician (1940–2010)
83. James Barry Munnik Hertzog, former Prime Minister (1866–1942)
84. Hector Pieterson, a young boy whose death has become the symbol of the Soweto uprisings of June 1976
85. Sewsunker “Papwa” Sewgolum, golfer
86. William Smith, TV teacher and presenter
87. Pieter Willem Botha, former prime minister and state president (1916–2006)
88. Hugh Masekela, musician
89. Bulelani Ngcuka, politician
90. Jody Scheckter, Formula One world champion (1950 – )
91. George Bizos, lawyer
92. Mbongeni Ngema, playwright, actor, choreographer and director
93. PJ Powers, musician
94. Mimi Coertse, musician
95. Mrs Ples, the oldest hominid skull found at Sterkfontein cave
96. Abdullah Ibrahim, aka “Dollar Brand”, musician
97. Govan Mbeki, political activist and father of Thabo Mbeki
98. Jamie Uys, Film Director (1921–1996)
99. Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef, artist
100. Athol Fugard, playwright (1932 – )


I know Felicia and Mandoza wouldn’t make the list anymore.


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