One cannot mention famous South Africans without joyfully celebrating Trevor Noah. Arguably one of the finest South African comedians of his era, Trevor is a political satirist, standup comedian, writer and TV host at Comedy Central. He was born and raised in Johannesburg to a Xhosa mother and a Swiss dad. He started his career in 2002 in SABC during which he gained a wealth of experience, and is now continually performing a stack of global-reach stand-up comedy features and shows. He also has an autobiography, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, published in 2016 which got on the New York Bestsellers List within a short period. He has a massive following on social media, for example Instagram followers now over five million. Here's a typical Trevor Noah night: "To say tonight was a dream come true is an understatement. We helped raise over 3 million dollars to help spur education in Africa. We set a world record for the highest attendance for a tennis match and I got to play tennis with two of the greatest players of all time whilst also sharing the court with my friend and one of the greatest minds of all time. And all of this happened in my home country, South Africa. Thank you Roger, Rafa, Bill and every single person who supported this great cause. I have lived one thousand dreams in one night!".
In August 2019, Marnus Labuschagne was the first cricketer to become a concussion substitute in a Test match, replacing Steve Smith. Immediately and remarkably, Labuschagne became the leading run-scorer in Test matches in 2019. He rose to fourth place in the ICC Player Rankings during the year, a rise of 106 places. In January 2020, Labuschagne was named as the Emerging Cricketer of the Year by the International Cricket Council (ICC). Labuschagne was born in Klerksdorp, in South Africa's North West province, to South African parents. His family emigrated to Australia in 2004 when he was 10, after his father gained work in the mining industry, and Labuschagne attended school at Brisbane State High School. He grew up speaking Afrikaans, and only became fluent in English after moving to Australia.
Engineer, business magnate, investor, and philanthropist Elon Musk was born and raised in Pretoria, South Africa, Musk attended Waterkloof House Preparatory School and Bryanston High School before graduating from Pretoria Boys High School. Musk briefly attended the University of Pretoria before moving to Canada when he was 17 to attend Queen's University. Musk is is the founder, CEO and chief engineer/designer of SpaceX; co-founder, CEO and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; founder of The Boring Company; co-founder of Neuralink; and co-founder and initial co-chairman of OpenAI. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2018. In December 2016, he was ranked 21st on the Forbes list of The World's Most Powerful People, and was ranked joint first on the Forbes list of the Most Innovative Leaders of 2019. He has a net worth of $38.2 billion and is listed by Forbes as the 23rd-richest person in the world. He is the longest tenured CEO of any automotive manufacturer globally.
Many have commentated on the disparity between author JM Coetzee and the equally acclaimed Zakes Mda — The New York Times’ Rob Nixon writes that they ‘could be writing about different countries’. Mda’s style revolves chiefly around exterior influences and is panoramic and Dickensian in its descriptions of society. A global nomad, he was born in South Africa, grew up in Lesotho, has lived in America and returned to his homeland. His work discusses the postcolonial concern of fractured identity and the notion of the outsider. He has been praised for his comedic flourishes that give life and energy to difficult subject matters.
Continuing the exasperating tradition of high quality South African cricketers having stellar careers playing for other countries, Neil Wagner has bobbed up as the New Zealand cricket team’s key player. He has an astonishing knack of picking up wickets when nothing else is going, and in recent seasons has been arguably more valuable to the Black Caps’ team cause than more fashionable thoroughbreds like Tim Southee and Trent Boult. He’s currently ranked ninth best bowler in the world, just behind Boult in fact. In late 2019 he became the second-fastest New Zealander to take 200 Test wickets, behind only Black Caps legend Sir Richard Hadlee. Wagner fittingly claimed the wicket of Steve Smith to reach the milestone, which came in his 46th Test (86th innings), putting him in the top 20 fastest worldwide.
Laduma Ngxokolo is a South African textile and knitwear designer, best known for his men's knitwear range inspired by traditional Xhosa beadwork. Born in Port Elizabeth in 1986, Laduma Ngxokolo had his first hands-on experience of textile designing in 2003 when he studied at Lawson Brown High School.
Ngxokolo’s flair for knitwear design earned him a bursary from both Cape Wools South Africa and Mohair South Africa during his Btech studies at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in 2010. The same year Ngxokolo won the South African national leg of the South African Society of Dyers and Colourists (SDC) Design Competition, which earned him a trip to London where he was awarded first prize internationally for the competition. The title of his competition entry was “The Colourful World of the Xhosa Culture” that consisted of men’s knitwear that is inspired by traditional Xhosa beadwork. Ngxokolo has received numerous achievements and captured the hearts of many fashion lovers and media from South Africa, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Oslo, Berlin and New York. Ngxokolo won the 2015 Vogue Italia Scouting for Africa prize to showcase his collections at the Palazzo Morando Show in Milan, Italy. His project Safer Xhosa Circumcision is a hygienic and safe medical kit, designed to confront health concerns of the traditional rituals around male circumcision.
The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP) was created in 2007 by Theron, who the following year was named a UN Messenger of Peace, in an effort to support African youth in the fight against HIV/AIDS. CTAOP's mission is to help keep African youth safe from HIV/AIDS. The project is committed to supporting community-engaged organizations that address the key drivers of the disease. Although the geographic scope of CTAOP is Sub-Saharan Africa, the primary concentration has mostly been Charlize's home country of South Africa. CTAOP's approach is based on the belief that community-based organizations on the ground understand the social and structural relationships of their communities better than anyone. By supporting these organizations through grant giving, networking, and spotlighting their work, CTAOP enables communities to mobilize and empower themselves to prevent HIV. By November 2017, CTAOP had raised more than $6.3 million to support African organizations working on the ground. In 2008, Theron was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace. In his citation, Ban Ki-Moon said of Theron "You have consistently dedicated yourself to improving the lives of women and children in South Africa, and to preventing and stopping violence against women and girls". She recorded a public service announcement in 2014 as part of their Stop Rape Now program.
Porky Hefer spent 16 years in advertising, during which time he worked as a Creative Director in Cape Town and New York agencies, and became one of South Africa’s most awarded creatives. Realising the higher he climbed, the less he personally created, in 2007 he left advertising to start up a creative consultancy, Animal Farm. Four years later he founded Porky Hefer Design. Hefer focuses on conceptual precepts, which manifest in three dimensional forms in a variety of executions, from public sculpture to product and furniture design. Intrigued by the reactions and energy a piece can generate, he embraces Africa and the skills that are readily available indigenously, rather than trying to emulate foreign processes. Hefer sees beauty in the functional, the ordinary and discarded. He regularly challenges our relationships with everyday objects, inspiring us to look again.
Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen
South African chefs are highly talented in culinary skills and hold their own among global talent. South Africa's first Michelin-star chef, published author, artist and passionate photographer, Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen's understanding of the world was forged in the kitchens of his mother and grandmothers. From kneading dough in the farmhouse kitchen of his childhood in Mpumalanga, South Africa to running his own restaurant in Nice, France, Jan-Hendrik's journey has taken many unexpected turns. Chef Jan offers the French his take on favourite foods from South Africa, including biltong, mos bolletjies and other traditional South African dishes. Today, Jan-Hendrik spends his time between the South of France and South Africa, plying his trade as a chef, creative and photographer. His main focus, however, is Jan, his restaurant in Nice, which received a highly coveted Michelin star in both 2016 and 2017.