James Kitching: fossil hunter of the Karoo

Not only did James Kitching find thousands of important pre-dinosaur fossils from more than 250-million years ago, but he also helped prove the theory of continental drift: that southern Africa was once part of a much larger land mass that included Antarctica, parts of the Americas and Australia. more

Shaun Tomson

Surfer Shaun Tomson is one of South Africa's finest sporting heroes. After winning the IPS World Championship in 1977 he went on to become one of the most influential surfers of his time. He is also an environmentalist and successful businessman as well as an author and sought-after motivational speaker. more

Yvonne Chaka Chaka

Yvonne Chaka Chaka is an acclaimed singer-songwriter whose music has found favour across the African continent. Using her position in society as a platform for change, Chaka Chaka is also a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and United Nations Children’s Fund Goodwill Ambassador for malaria in Africa. more

Godfrey Mokoena, Olympic long-jumper

Known as Africa’s most famous jumper, Godfrey Khotso Mokoena has been taking the athletics world by storm in the past decade, culminating with a silver medal for the long jump at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But the Mokoena Magic still continues, and Godfrey has his sights set on new records all the time. more

Thomas Bain

The multi-talented Thomas Bain was one of the shining stars of Victorian-era South Africa. Not only did he supervise the building of a score of Cape mountain passes, but his passions spread to botany, archaeology, art, water research, administering the law and raising a large, happy family. more

Esther Mahlangu

When BMW asked Esther Mahlangu to decorate a so called BMW "art car" in traditional Ndebele design in 1999, she stepped into the league of Andy Warhol and David Hockney (world-renowned artists who created previous art cars for the company). She was the first woman artist to have been honoured as such. more

Dick King

Riding on horseback for 10 days through hostile territory from Port Natal to British forces in Grahamstown to bring word of pending Boer attacks on his home garrison, Dick King’s epic journey through hostile territory nearly killed the frontiersman and his Zulu companion, who rode with him for part of the way. more

Icons of the Arts

South Africa has produced icons of the arts from an array of disciplines. Celebrated at home and abroad, these visual artists, writers, dancers, musicians and performers represent the country's diversity as well as its creative potential. They are all heroes of the arts. more

Topsi Venter

Topsi Venter, like Alice in Wonderland tumbling down the rabbit hole, just 'fell' into food. Her culinary adventures are equally fantastical: a creative mélange of cooking, teaching, food art and, finally, a quirky bistro in Franschhoek - and modern South African cuisine is all the richer for it. more

Lucas Ndlovu

Chef Lucas Ndlovu’s innate talent and outgoing personality allowed him to break the mould in professional South African kitchens at a time when black staff were largely relegated to cleaning up after their white counterparts. In so doing, he has become a role model for young, aspirant chefs. more

Sydney Brenner

Sydney Brenner has produced some of the world’s most pioneering medical research. With a keen interest in genetics, Brenner was responsible for developing a new DNA sequencing technique and demonstrated the cause and effects of genetic mutations, research which contributed to him being awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize for Medicine. more

George Pemba

George Pemba (1912-2001), teacher, clerk and shopkeeper, and throughout a revolutionary South African art hero. When he died in 2001, he was revered for his exceptional contribution to South African art.  more

Mark Shuttleworth

Mark Shuttleworth is as renowned for his entrepreneurial vision and IT innovations as he is for his social efforts, most notably to uplift South African education on a big scale. His unwavering determination to travel into space also saw him become the world’s second self-funded private citizen to travel into orbit. more

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Humanitarian hero Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his continued struggle against the apartheid regime. After the abolition of apartheid, Nelson Mandela appointed the Archbishop as Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. more

JRR Tolkien

Writer JRR Tolkien might have only spent three years in Bloemfontein, but South Africa is proud that the author of 'The Lord of the Rings' was born in the capital city of what is now the Free State province. His father's grave can be found in Bloemfontein’s cemetery. more