Entrepreneur, engineer and industrial designer, Elon Musk, is famous as founder of the electronic payment firm PayPal, and the SpaceX spacecraft company. He is also the CEO of Tesla Motors. Elon Musk has plans to revolutionize transportation on earth as well as to space through futuristic technology.
Trevor Noah is a writer, political commentator, comedian and television host and hosts the American satirical news programme, The Daily Show. He has also hosted several other shows, including the late-night talk show, Tonight with Trevor Noah. He is an actor too. He has written an autobiographical book, Born A Crime, and has received numerous accolades and awards, including the Emmy Award.
AB de Villiers, also known as “Mr. 360” and “Superman,” has captained the South African cricket team in Tests, ODIs, and T20s. Named the ICC ODI Player of the Year thrice, the Wisden "cricketer of the decade" is a devout Christian, has written an autobiography, and released a pop album.
From being an infant whose both legs were amputated below knee, Oscar Pistorius went on to become a top athlete with wins in Paralympic Games and other sporting events. The South African sprinter also became the first amputee runner to compete at the Olympics Games. However, later, he was convicted for the murder of his girlfriend and is currently imprisoned.
Cyril Ramaphosa is a politician and the current president of South Africa. Also the president of South Africa's popular political party African National Congress (ANC), Ramaphosa played a key role during the nation's transition to democracy during which he served as ANC's chief negotiator. He also played a crucial role in ending apartheid and was considered Nelson Mandela's political heir.
Widely regarded as one of the most influential and important monarchs of the Zulu Kingdom, Shaka reigned as the king of the Zulu Kingdom from 1816 to 1828. Through a series of influential and wide-reaching reforms, Shaka was able to re-organize the Zulu military into a formidable force. His life and work inspired the 1986 South African TV series, Shaka Zulu.
Civil rights activist Steve Biko, or the Father of Black Consciousness, is remembered for his work against apartheid in South Africa. He founded the Black Consciousness Movement while still a medical school student. He was banned by the pro-apartheid regime in 1973. He was beaten to death in custody.
Sharlto Copley is a South African actor best known for playing important roles in science fiction films, such as District 9, Elysium, Europa Report, Chappie, and Hardcore Henry. His portrayal of Wikus van der Merwe in District 9 earned him several accolades including a couple of IGN Movie Awards.
Kevin Carter was a South African photojournalist whose photograph titled the vulture and the little girl, which depicted the 1993 famine in Sudan, earned him the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 1994. Carter committed suicide in 1994 after suffering from depression. A book titled The Bang Bang Club, which was later made into a film, depicts his story.
Born to stage-actor parents in South Africa, Arnold Vosloo is best known as Imhotep from The Mummy franchise. He is also often mistaken for Billy Zane from Titanic for his uncanny resemblance to the actor. The Dalro Award-winning actor has also appeared in series such as 24 and Bosch.
One of the best ODI bastmen in the world, South African cricketer Hashim Amla has made many records, from being the fastest to reach 20 ODI centuries to being the fourth player to score centuries against all Test-playing nations. He was also the Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2013.
Ernie Els is a South African golfer renowned for his fluid golf swing and imposing physical stature, which has earned him the nickname, The Big Easy. A former World No. 1, Els has four major championships under his belt. Ernie Els is only one of six golfers to twice win the Open Championship as well as the U.S. Open.
The first six-time CSA award winner, South African cricketer Kagiso Rabada also became the eighth Proteas bowler to take 200 Test wickets, beating the likes of Allan Donald. He has, however, often been seen breaking ICC rules on the field and was also in trouble once for shouldering Steven Smith.
One of the best all-rounders the world has ever seen, South African cricketer Jacques Kallis was known for his signature cover drive throughout his career. He remains the only cricketer to score over 10,000 runs and take more than 250 wickets in both ODI and Test cricket.
Watkin Tudor Jones, better known as Ninja, is a South African rapper, songwriter, record producer, and director. He is a member of the rap-rave group Die Antwoord. He has been active in the hip hop scene since he was 13 and has played with numerous bands in his career. He is also an occasional actor.
John Kani is a South African actor, playwright, director, and author. He is best known for playing T'Chaka in American superhero films, such as Black Panther and Captain America: Civil War. One of the few South African actors to achieve international recognition, John Kani was included in the Top 100 Great South Africans list, which was published in 2004.
The son of a mine worker, South African fast bowler Dale Steyn is known for his mercurial on-field persona and for his swing and speed. He has many accolades to his credit, such as the Wisden Cricketer of the Year. He also topped the ICC Test rankings for 263 weeks.
Kevin Anderson is a South African tennis player who became the fifth-ranked player in the world in 2018. He is the first South African player to be ranked in the top five since 1985 when Kevin Curren was ranked fifth in the world. Anderson has reached two Grand Slam finals; US Open (2017) and Wimbledon (2018).
Born in South Africa, Neill Blomkamp later moved to Canada. He began his career as a 3-D and special effects artist and later turned to direction. He is known for his documentary-style filmmaking that uses the cinéma vérité technique. Two of his best-known sci-fi films are District 9 and Elysium.
Sid James was an actor best remembered for playing multiple characters in the popular Carry On series. James has been the subject of many tribute shows including BBC's 2013 show The Many Faces of Sid James. In 1998, actor Geoffrey Hutchings played Sid James in a play titled Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle and Dick which was premiered at the National Theatre.
Faf du Plessis is a South African cricketer who captained the national team in the ODI format from 2013 to 2019. He has also captained the national team in the other two formats of the game. He became the first South African player to score centuries in ODI, T20, and Test cricket after he scored his first T20I century in 2015.
Jan Smuts was a South African military leader, statesman, and philosopher. He played a key role in the formation of the Union of South Africa and helped shape its constitution. From 1919 to 1924 and again from 1939 to 1948, he served as the Union of South Africa's prime minister. He played a major role in establishing the United Nations.
Thabo Mbeki is a South African politician who is currently serving as the chancellor of the University of South Africa. From 1999 to 2008, he served as the president of South Africa. During his tenure as the president, the South African economy grew, creating employment opportunities. Over the years, he has received several awards, including the prestigious Good Governance Award.
Hansie Cronje was a South African international cricketer. He captained the South African national cricket team in the 1990s. In 2000, he was implicated in a cricket match-fixing scandal and banned from the sport for life. He died in a plane crash in 2002. It was rumored that he was murdered on the orders of a cricket betting syndicate.
Jacob Zuma is a South African politician and fourth president of South Africa. During his presidency, which lasted from 2009 to 2018, Zuma was accused of racketeering and corruption which ultimately led to his resignation. Apart from being a politician, Zuma also runs the Jacob Zuma Foundation, which aims at building houses for the poor and sending children to school.
David Bale was an English entrepreneur and animal rights activist. He worked closely with The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, which aims at protecting endangered mountain gorillas, and served as one of its board members. Apart from his work as an activist for animal rights and environmental causes, David Bale is also known as the father of actor Christian Bale.
Wayde van Niekerk is a South African athlete who competes as a sprinter in the 200 and 400 metres. He is the current Olympic and world record holder in the 400 metres. Wayde van Niekerk holds the world record in the 300 metres as well. He won the gold medal in the 400 metres event at the 2016 Olympic Games.
British-South African social-media sensation and YouTuber Caspar Lee soared to fame with his comedy videos. He later also stepped into acting with films such as Spud 3. A budding entrepreneur, he co-owns the student housing company Proper Living and has been featured on Forbes 30 Under 30.
Louis Oosthuizen is a South African golfer best known as the winner of the 2010 Open Championship which was held in Scotland. In addition to winning the 2010 Open Championship, Oosthuizen has also finished runner-up in the other three major championships. In 2013, he became the fourth-ranked golfer in the world according to the Official World Golf Ranking.
South African former footballer Benni McCarthy had played for a number of European clubs, such as Ajax Amsterdam, before moving on to the South African club Orlando Pirates. He also represented Bafana Bafana, the South African national team, in the 1998 World Cup and African Cup of Nations.
Ahmed Deedat was a South African public speaker and writer of Indian descent. A popular Muslim missionary, Deedat is remembered for his inter-religious public debates with Christians. He is credited with establishing an Islamic missionary organization called IPCI. In 1986, he was honored for his missionary work with the prestigious King Faisal International Prize.
Paul Kruger was a South African politician who served as the last State President of the South African Republic. Revered by his admirers as a tragic folk hero, Kruger was one of the most influential military and political personalities in 19th-century South Africa. His life inspired the 1941 German film Ohm Krüger, in which Kruger was played by Emil Jannings.
Justin Gabriel is a South African wrestler best known for his achievements in WWE; he is a three-time WWE Tag Team Champion with Heath Slater. He also won two Slammy Awards during his time in WWE. In 2011, he was ranked 61st in the PWI 500 list.
Known widely as the father of Osama bin Laden, Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was a Saudi business tycoon. He established the Jeddah-headquartered construction conglomerate Saudi Binladin Group and earned contracts from the Saudi royal family. He was also one of the richest non-royal Saudi and had 22 wives.
A pioneer of South African jazz, instrumentalist Hugh Masekela excelled in the trumpet and introduced South African music to countries such as the U.S. He was also a vocal anti-apartheid activist, played for the Jazz Epistles, and was known for his iconic albums such as Hope and Johannesburg.
Nobel Prize- and two-time Booker Prize-winning author J. M. Coetzee had started his career as a Fulbright scholar. After teaching English in the U.S. and South Africa, he now lives and teaches in Australia. He is best known for his colonial settings in novels such as Waiting for the Barbarians.
Olympic gold medalist South African swimmer Chad le Clos, who plays for the club Energy Standard, also holds records in the 50- and 100-m butterfly categories in the Commonwealth Games. He is one of his nation’s most-decorated Olympians but failed to get a medal in the 2020 Olympics.
South African novelist, Wilbur A. Smith, specializes in historical fiction and writes extensively about the international involvement in Southern Africa over the past few centuries. An accountant by profession, he started writing professionally when he was in his 30s. Many of his novels became best-sellers, and he has sold more than 120 million copies of his 35 published novels.
Oliver Tambo was a South African revolutionary and politician who played an important role in the anti-apartheid movement alongside Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu. In 1943, he helped found the ANC Youth League and later served as the African National Congress' president. He is also remembered for organizing several guerilla units that facilitated attacks against the apartheid state.
Born to a South African father and an English mother, former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen still holds the record for being the fastest to make 2,000 ODI runs. Named a Wisden Cricketer of the Year, he was also nicknamed “shining” once, for his phenomenal contribution to the England team.
The first black African to be featured on the Forbes billionaires’ list, African Rainbow Minerals founder Patrice Motsepe also owns a football club. In 2021, he took over as the president of the Confederation of African Football. The mining tycoon has also signed The Giving Pledge.
Johann Rupert is a South African-born businessman best known as the son of famous business magnate Anton Rupert. Johann is currently serving as the chairman of a luxury goods company called Richemont. In 2019, he was named the second-wealthiest person in South Africa when he was featured in Forbes magazine's The World's Billionaires list.