21 remarkable South African icons

21 Icons is an annual collection of unique narrative portraits and short films by Adrian Steirn, who is one of Africa’s pre-eminent photographers and filmmakers.

21 Icons project is a visual celebration of the lives of men and women who have shaped the world around them for the better. Inspired by the life of Nelson Mandela, it tells the stories of people who have continued his legacy!

Nelson Mandela: Adrian Steirn's 21 Icons South Africa Series

This project is a unique concept since it combines fine-art portraits, short films, behind the scene photography, written narrative and a feature length documentary. The hope was to capture in an immersive manner the lives of the people it features. This meant striving for intimacy during the portrait shoots and interviews, to ensure that the charm, humility and sincerity of these amazing people came through. The intention is to inspire ordinary citizens to learn from the lives of these remarkable South Africans.

Nadine Gordimer

Steirn comments, “I’ve met many people whose stories are incredibly powerful – it’s a true privilege to discover more about the human spirit and share these individuals personal accounts, their positive character traits and their propensity to influence and shape perceptions and transform societal norms for the better, impacting the communities around them.”

conversation with Hugh Masekela

21 Icon season one began with Nelson Mandela’s portrait. Then it presented 20 great women and men such as Nadine Gordimer (the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature), Sophia Williams de Bruyn, Phillips Tobias, Desmond Tutu (1984 Nobel Peace Prize) …. And many other! The portraits from season one will be auctioned off later this year, and all revenue generated will be donated to charity of each icon’s choice. This tangible aspect of helping to provide financial aid to important causes is an important part of 21 ICONS South Africa’s quest to give back to the country.

albie sachs

On Sunday 3 August, 21 Icons South Africa has launched its season two, which debuts with Albert Sachs (lawyer engage against the Apartheid), celebrating one of the nation’s iconic individuals. Albie Sachs wrote Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter and won the Alan Platon Award, which is certainly one of the most prestigious literary awards in South Africa!

21 icons book

You should definitely buy the book or visit 21 Icons Website (21icons.com) to watch the amazing pictures and movies about these South African’s icons! This is a proudly South African project with a profoundly global message that celebrates the goodness in people!

So…Find out who is your icon!


By Capucine Motte

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